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Quinn replies to Shakman’s lawsuit

Monday, Jun 9, 2014

* From the Associated Press

Gov. Pat Quinn has asked a federal court to reject Michael Shakman’s challenge to state hiring, saying the Chicago anti-patronage attorney has no authority to raise questions and seeks resolution that would unnecessarily disrupt government and undermine gubernatorial authority.

The Democratic governor’s request, which blames the now-imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich for any misconduct in hiring, was filed late Friday in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

Shakman, author of a landmark 1972 court decree prohibiting political hiring in Cook County government, renewed his suit against Quinn in April. It claims the administration violated the Shakman decree and another that regulates state hiring by improperly considering politics in employment and promotion at the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Shakman wants an investigation completed and a “special master” appointed to monitor and ensure proper hiring at all agencies under the governor’s control, a move Quinn’s lawyers reject as superfluous and threatening to duties — in this case, hiring — entrusted to government officials.

* The filing is here. One of the objections made by the Quinn administration is that some of this stuff is really old

The allegations pertaining to the Blagojevich administration are based primarily on a Chicago Sun-Times article from October 16 and 17, 2009 which detailed violations from 2003-2005. As Blagojevich was removed from office on January 29, 2009, any claims pertaining to violations under his administration would have needed to have been brought by July 29, 2009 at the very latest.

* Timeliness is also an issue with the current administration

Plaintiffs allege that the violations pertaining to the Quinn administration arise out conduct that ended in “early 2012.” … To timely recover for such conduct, Plaintiffs would have had to bring a claim by June 29, 2013 at the very latest. Plaintiffs did not file their motion until April 22, 2014. Even assuming Plaintiffs were unaware of such conduct until the BGA report came out on August 14, 2013, Plaintiffs had until February 10, 2014 to seek relief for such claims. Plaintiffs did not contact Defendant until March 13, 2014 and did not file the most recent motion until April 22, 2014. Thus, their request for relief as to the current administration is untimely and is barred.

* The Quinn response also claims that “Plaintiffs’ request for relief with respect to those allegations in the 2009 motion has been abandoned by Plaintiffs“…

Plaintiffs filed a strikingly similar motion in 2009 to which the Governor’s Office filed a response requesting the court dismiss such request for relief. Despite the Governor’s Office filing a response requesting dismissal, Plaintiffs failed to respond, either before or after the parties’ settlement discussions, but rather let the Governor’s response linger on the docket for more than four years without taking any action. Plaintiffs now attempt to resurrect those same claims. Because Plaintiffs never responded to the Office of the Governor’s response, to the extent Plaintiffs now seek relief based on the allegations contained in their 2009 motion, such relief must be denied.

* The plaintiffs don’t have the right to pursue relief concerning hiring practices, Quinn believes

Plaintiffs have never secured a judgment against any Governor with respect to hiring practices… because no previous Governor was a signatory to any of the other Shakman decrees, Governor Quinn is not bound by any of their terms… In sum, Plaintiffs are not seeking to enforce an existing judgment between themselves and the Governor in their plea for injunctive relief with respect to allegations about hiring practices. Instead, they attempt to avoid ever litigating this issue by bootstrapping their claim to the terms of the 1972 Consent Decree via the Court’s decision in Rutan.

* Plaintiffs don’t have standing, Quinn argues

There is no basis to conclude that Plaintiffs are suffering a “continuing, present” harm that is “sufficiently real and immediate” to justify the extraordinary injunctive relief they now seek… As the Supreme Court has made clear, “‘[p]ast exposure to illegal conduct does not in itself show a present case or controversy regarding injunctive relief . . . if unaccompanied by any continuing, present adverse effects.’”

* And there is no need for a special master

Plaintiffs’ allegations, which are based on information and belief derived primarily from media sources, only allege violations pertaining to IDOT. Yet Plaintiffs seek a Special Master to cover all employment under the Governor within the Northern District of Illinois. The Governor oversees the vast majority of the State’s agencies and as a result, state employees. There is no basis for a Special Master to monitor all of the employment under the Governor when the allegations relate only to IDOT.

Further, as Plaintiffs allege, the OEIG commenced an investigation into the alleged wrongful practices. The OEIG has not issued its report and recommendations. To appoint a Special Master is unwarranted and, in advance of the OEIG concluding its investigation and issuing its report and recommendations, is premature.

* But the most immediate political issue is Shakman’s request for discovery. Quinn wants the court to rule on its objections before allowing discovery to proceed. The implications are obvious here. If Shakman goes nosing around the Quinn administration’s hiring practices, who knows what sort of targeted leaks could result?

- Posted by Rich Miller        


18 Comments
  1. - William j Kelly - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Strange shackman doesn’t have any problem with Rahm’s monkey business, why? Are there two different shackmans? Or two different laws? Or mabe laws apply to some people and not to others? Or maybe the real people of Chicago just deserve an alternative? Williamjkellyforchicago.com


  2. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    If there is nothing to see here governor, prove it by letting him look….


  3. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    Before you feed, take a moment to read…

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakman_Decrees


  4. - Bill - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    Blago is easy target. Quinn wrote book on patronage hiring under Walker.


  5. - Lycurgus - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    If there is no consent decree involving the State (which is what the Gov. appears to be saying), than PQ is absolutely correct and Shakman is moving into showboat territory.


  6. - OneMan - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    Lycurgus, not sure where your thought process is on this.

    if you read the first paragraph of the state’s filing it says the state entered a consent decree on hiring back in 1972.


  7. - Skirmisher - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    Whatever, Shakman’s motives or standing, it is hardly a secret here in Springfield that no governor in memory has practiced patronage hiring more openly and universally than Pat Quinn. And a very frequent complaint is that the hires are frequently a good deal less than well qualified for their jobs in agenies that can no longer bear dead weight. A public airing of all of this would not reflect well on PQ’s carefully crafted public image, and he knows it.


  8. - Jake From Elwood - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:31 pm:

    Point of order. Shouldn’t we retire the screen name “Bill” out of respect for the deceased? Just a thought.


  9. - Demoralized - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:32 pm:

    If the jobs are not union and are not covered by Rutan rules then the Governor can hire whoever he wants to hire. I’m all for investigating the IDOT deal. But to now suggest that there needs to be some massive oversight of all hiring is ridiculous. I also fear that a lot of people’s names are going to get dragged through the mud by the press simply because they are in exempt jobs. This whole situation disturbs me.


  10. - Skeptic - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 1:42 pm:

    “hires are frequently a good deal less than well qualified for their jobs” Got news for you…between the cumbersome Rutan hiring process, CMS, Union rules etc., it happens with non-political hires too. Ask anyone who’s done State hiring how many times they’ve pulled a posting rather than hire the person they would have had to hire.


  11. - logic not emotion - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 2:47 pm:

    Skeptic: Very good and valid point. It is safe to say that the state hiring is a mess in multiple ways. What should be scary to everyone is that the state’s core of competent long term employees at the various agencies is rapidly shrinking.


  12. - MIghty M. Mouse - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 5:36 pm:

    ===What should be scary to everyone is that the state’s core of competent long term employees at the various agencies is rapidly shrinking.===

    True, and as I recall it was the psychiatric case Blagojevich who started that train in rolling. If we elect Rauner he’ll be sure to finish the job.


  13. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 6:35 pm:

    Mouse, I also agree the “core of competency” and institutional knowledge in State government has been withering away since the 2002 ERI and then Blagotime.
    I would like to know why you are so sure that Rauner will “finish the job” or be any worse in this regard than PQ.


  14. - Send In the Clowns - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 6:47 pm:

    Demoralized - they are not in exempt positions. They were hired exempt and a short time later, they were moved to Union coverage. Of course this happened after some got bumped up to higher levels with pay increases.


  15. - quincy - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 6:51 pm:

    It was sure OK when then the Republicans were in the Gov. office 24yrs, and for a price Ryan was in there money could get any job you wanted.


  16. - Leave a Light on George - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 7:46 pm:

    @ quincy

    True but George ended up in prison if you recall.


  17. - Mister M - Monday, Jun 9, 14 @ 9:24 pm:

    All those who hoped that Quinn would “fumigate” as he had promised became disheartened but probably not surprised to see the hacks entrenched during Blago’s time continue to manipulate the personnel processes with impunity under Quinn. So yes, Quinn knew and yes, he continued the abuse. Remember that the Chicago and Cook County pals had to be reckoned with.


  18. - Maxine - Tuesday, Jun 10, 14 @ 4:25 pm:

    Correct Mister M! Now they are union “rutan interview” jobs, where the union and the Dems pick their friends, family, and contributors BEFORE state employees. Not to mention the PSA mess, what a joke. CMS=Can’t Manange S***!


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