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Reform and renewal

Tuesday, Jun 17, 2014

* A recent news roundup from the Bruce Rauner campaign…

Over the weekend, two stories broke about possible pay-to-play in the Quinn administration. First, Lee’s Springfield Bureau offers a “behind-the-scenes look at the jockeying underway to grab a piece of the newly legalized medical pot business” by politically connected Quinn insiders. Second, the Associated Press reported that a political firm with ties to Governor Quinn was contracted to work directly under the governor on health care implementation in Illinois and has billed the taxpayers at a rate exceeding similar contracts in other states.

On Sunday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration “handed out $800,000 in anti-violence money to a politically influential South Side community group even after the nonprofit filed documents with the state acknowledging it suffered from years of financial missteps.” A review of state records “also raise questions about when top Quinn administration officials learned of problems in the program and how swiftly they responded.” Meanwhile, the group’s leader continues to give money to Illinois Democrats as the Quinn administration holds off on collecting money owed to the state.

And after months of Pat Quinn and his administration denying any wrongdoing in a lawsuit alleging illegal patronage hiring practices at the Illinois Department of Transpiration, the Chicago Sun-Times yesterday reported that the Illinois Transportation Secretary’s own stepdaughter may have a gotten her job at IDOT through patronage hiring.

* The medical marijuana thing probably ain’t pay to play. It’s just a bunch of insiders going for the brass ring. If there weren’t so many harsh regulations on med-mar, the money guys wouldn’t need lobbyists to give them a hand. But it is an impressive roster of insiders. Go check out the story.

We discussed the second point yesterday.

The Tribune story was about The Woodlawn Organization, which used to be a highly respected South Side group. But years of mismanagement questions have combined to put it on the outs with the state. After putting TWO in charge of some programs, the governor’s office kicked it out of the anti-violence initiative. Still, you can clearly make the case that the governor’s office should’ve known that it was taking a big risk with TWO.

* And that brings us to the IDOT story. I really find this explanation hard to swallow

[Schneider’s stepdaughter Ashley Carpenter] said she was at her IDOT job when, one day, generic personnel paperwork arrived on her desk, which she filled out and turned in. Shortly after, Carpenter said, she learned she had been promoted to a staff assistant. She said she never applied or interviewed for the job or discussed it with Schneider.

“Honestly, I have no idea how I became full-time,” Carpenter said. “I have no idea who put that stack of papers on my desk.”

Carpenter was hired as a staff assistant using the “Rutan-exempt” process, in which politics and other subjective factors are allowed to be used as a basis for hiring, according to IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell and documents obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

An IDOT spokesman said Schneider did not help Carpenter get either job. Schneider would not agree to an interview request.

So, you’re telling me that the stepdaughter of IDOT’s then-director of finance and administration was promoted out of the blue and without her even knowing it and the director wasn’t at all involved?

Right.

As the old saying goes, I was born at night, but not last night.

* Chicago was just released from nearly fifty years of judicial oversight on patronage hiring. While Mayor Emanuel was cleaning up the hiring process, Quinn was apparently going the opposite direction. Yes, Quinn stopped the questionable hiring practices after he was called out on it, but IDOT obviously is long overdue for a top to bottom house cleaning. That place has been a patronage dumping ground forever.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


36 Comments
  1. - Wumpus - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 10:31 am:

    I don’t think the IDOT move was political, just good ole fashion nepotism.


  2. - William j Kelly - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 10:33 am:

    Thank God for double standards because if it wasn’t for double standards Rahm and shackman wouldn’t have any standards at all.


  3. - OneMan - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    Ahhh the magical paperwork farie….


  4. - veritas - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    Hey - she was at a desk and she filled out a form. If that doesn’t qualify for advancement at IDOT what does?? Plenty more have been rewarded for doing a lot less.


  5. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    A couple thoughts-

    -Let’s get Detective Rich Miller out to IDOT to investigate the paperwork fairy, because the truth is elusive so far.

    -The usual suspects are turning up in the med-mar deals because the State priced the little guys out of the bidness from the git-go and the banks are so nervous about “taking drug money” that they won’t even open a checking account for one potential grower let alone consider extending credit.

    -No truth to the rumor that AWillyWord Medical Cultivation $ervices is open for business.


  6. - Langhorne - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    gee, isnt it the job of the director of budget and admin to keep close track of things like, say, budgeted headcount? vacancies? and permission to fill vacancies?

    someone needs to tell ashley how to play the game. you saw the vacancy on the board, got the paperwork, and applied. just like anyone else. see. not hard.


  7. - NW Illinois Dem - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    Another reason our state is a laughing stock.


  8. - veritas - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    Puzzle for the day:

    What’s yellow and sleeps 6?? An IDOT truck.


  9. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:08 am:

    Rich:

    Yesterday you asked how many niches it takes to build a majority.

    I would say roughly the same as the number of coincidences it takes to make a pattern.


  10. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:10 am:

    My family used their connections to get me jobs in both the public and private sectors when I was young. I don’t think there is a public perception problem there; who wouldn’t want to help their kid get a job. The problem is when connections are used, or perceived, to move someone ahead of the line of other employees. For a public agency, especially a director’s kid, optics is everything, and both the parent and kid should avoid putting each other in an indefensable position that would make a negative story.


  11. - kathryn - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:12 am:

    If you believe Schneider didn’t know how Carpenter got hired and Carpenter didn’t have help getting hired and promoted then you must still believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny. The article didn’t state Carpenter also spent some time at IDOT Traffic Safety.


  12. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:25 am:

    The med-mar article is an eye opener, but even that doesn’t tell the full story. The “pie” was largely cut and distributed a while ago, and coincidentally everybody knows somebody. If you’re a member of the general public or business community who wants a good piece of the pie, or just an equal opportunity to get your foot in the door, then good luck.

    As for the story of Schneider and Carpenter and IDOT, there is an obvious explanation: magic. That explains everything.


  13. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    In a world where well-paid, secure jobs with benefits are getting more and more scarce, the ability to get a govt job through political connections gives the job-seeker a huge advantage, especially if he or she has minimal or average education and qualifications. This is particularly true when the political hire is able to use the Rutan-exempt position as a springboard to a Rutan-protected civil service position, as may have been the case with Carpenter, and, I’m sure, many, many others.

    We citizens do have to wonder how many state employees came into their civil-service jobs, many of them union-protected, through this route-political hire to civil service. And if it’s that easy to evade Rutan, what’s the point? I’m sure neither party cares much for the Rutan rules, and if we residents of one of the country’s most corrupt states are willing to put up with these shenanigans,we can expect political leaders of both parties to ignore Rutan to the extent possible. As the Democrats under Blago and Quinn surely appear to have done, ethics rhetoric
    notwithstanding.


  14. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:56 am:

    - veritas - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    Puzzle for the day:

    What’s yellow and sleeps 6?? An IDOT truck.

    First of all, as a 30+ year veteran of IDOT (now retired) I will go on a short rant on how grossly unfair this dumb “joke” is (and was to my fellow road workers and myself the first time I heard it back in the early 1980’s. We are in the public eye, so of course we are the problem with state employees. I don’t remember anyone telling me that when I was repairing pavement blowups on 95 degrees summer days, nor when I was missing Christmas or some other important day , plowing snow on a 12 hour night shift. Sure, all we do on the other days is sleep in our trucks all day.

    Dope.

    That said- in the white collar level of IDOT, patronage is a sickening problem. It was under Republican governors, and it has only gotten worse with the last two Democrats in office. Unqualified individuals show up at the district headquarters and are put in charge of BS projects , or have job titles invented for them to justify their bloated salaries. By all means go after these stooges and eliminate their fake jobs. Just don’t lump the rest of the overwprked engineering and office staff, and the


  15. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    Mayor Daley famously noted “Good government is good politics.”

    Well, bad government?

    Last time I checked, EPARs are required for every hire in every state agency.

    And every state agency requires the chief financial officer to sign off on every EPAR.

    Which means, kids, somewhere there ought to be a piece of paper where the director approved her step-daughter’s hiring.


  16. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    - veritas - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    Puzzle for the day:

    What’s yellow and sleeps 6?? An IDOT truck.

    First of all, as a 30+ year veteran of IDOT (now retired) I will go on a short rant on how grossly unfair this dumb “joke” is (and was to my fellow road workers and myself the first time I heard it back in the early 1980’s. We are in the public eye, so of course we are the problem with state employees. I don’t remember anyone telling me that when I was repairing pavement blowups on 95 degrees summer days, nor when I was missing Christmas or some other important day , plowing snow on a 12 hour night shift. Sure, all we do on the other days is sleep in our trucks all day.

    Dope.

    That said- in the white collar level of IDOT, patronage is a sickening problem. It was under Republican governors, and it has only gotten worse with the last two Democrats in office. Unqualified individuals show up at the district headquarters and are put in charge of BS projects , or have job titles invented for them to justify their bloated salaries. By all means go after these stooges and eliminate their fake jobs. Just don’t lump the rest of the overworked engineering and office staff, and the maintainers who labor on the roads in all weather to keep the roads open and safe with the political animals who are feeding in the slop trough.


  17. - Roadiepig - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 12:03 pm:

    (sorry , anonymous at 11:56 was me. The end of my post also was cut- here it is:)

    Just don’t lump the rest of the overworked engineering and office staff, and the highway maintainers who do their best to keep the roads open and safe for you with the political animals who are feeding from the slop trough.


  18. - Cassiopeia - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 12:29 pm:

    The personnel director at IDOT at the time of the Carpenter hiring was Scott Doubet who reported directly to Schneider.

    Remember the lawsuits against Doubet that led to his dismissal ?

    Connect the dots.


  19. - Doomed in Illinois - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    Roadiepig…Amen.


  20. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    Over the years, the most political job at IDOT was Highway Maintainer, followed so closely it was almost a tie, by Snowbirds and Sunbirds. I have no idea whether that has ended or not. As to the specific hire, remember Rutan outlawed political patronage hiring, so whether this position was Rutan exempt or not, the worst that happened was personal patronage, which is not prohibited by Rutan at all and happens every day in both the private and public sector.


  21. - dreamer - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 1:20 pm:

    I’d like to know how many of the people put into these “exempt” positions are veterans or can the administration ignore veterans preference rules when filling them.


  22. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 1:25 pm:

    @dreamer:

    If a position is double-exempt vets preference doesn’t apply.


  23. - Juvenal - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 2:02 pm:

    Schnorf:

    The term is not patronage, it is nepotism.

    And that is a fine legal distinction for Ms Carpenter’s lawyer, but will not help Quinn in November.

    Quinn needs to take a page from Daley: “Off with her head!”


  24. - Cassandra - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 2:03 pm:

    I would guess that where you see a lot of personal patronage hiring is within the agencies, with promotions out of the bargaining unit going to friends and cronies of agency execs, whether the jobs are Rutan-covered or not. This can cause a lot of resentment in the ranks, of course, given the considerable salary increases that such promotions can bring.

    Government hiring. It’s a swamp. And we complain about “third world” government bureaucracies.


  25. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    @Cassandra:

    Who in their right mind takes a promotion out of the bargaining unit where you have no job security or options for raises? I’ve seen people turn down those jobs more than once.


  26. - Demoralized - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    ==And that is a fine legal distinction for Ms Carpenter’s lawyer,==

    What does a lawyer have to do with anything in her case?


  27. - Black Ivy - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 2:17 pm:

    Governor Quinn would regularly eviscerate Governor Blagojevich on his “corrupt” and “unethical” ways. Now, years, later, the number of investigations of Governor Quinn’s Office is making my head spin. Unsupervised anti-violence program. Contributors clamoring for pot money. IDOT patronage debacle. I am craving an outside in Rauner. #donefinishedkaput #nolongerhonest


  28. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    A lot of times, someone will see a job posted down where they work. They mention it to their family and a cousin, brother, nephew, or other relative applies, and meets the qualifications for the job. The company knows the employee is a good worker. They take his recommendation and hire the person. He goes through the probation period and works out fine. Thirty years later he is still working fine. I fail to see the problem.
    I do see a problem with job applicants being discriminated against because they happen to have a relative working for the same employer.


  29. - Roadiepig - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 2:29 pm:

    - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    Over the years, the most political job at IDOT was Highway Maintainer, followed so closely it was almost a tie, by Snowbirds and Sunbirds.

    Steve- can only tell you my experences working for IDOT downstate, but starting with the large number of new hires at the end of Ryan’s term as governor(after a almost decade long hiring freeze), maintainers hired only had veteran’s preference. More people who identified as either non-political or as Dems were hired at my storage then Repubs at that time (we received 8 or 9 new guys, as our head count had fallen to almost single digits from a high of 31.) Even with a Republican in the governor’s office, Republicans were not getting hired.

    Yes, when I was hired it was hard to get on without someone saying a word for you. That was pre-Ratan (1990? I think?).

    And no, I didn’t get my job 32 years ago due to either nepotism nor because I was a politically active person. Not sure how I (and many of my other pre-Ratan coworkers) slipped in along with the others who had someone helping get them hired. All I can tell you is the IDOT maintainers are now as politically connected as the people working at your local WalMart.


  30. - Budget Watcher - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 2:42 pm:

    So many of you are quick to demonize all government hiring practices as patronage schemes. The unfortunate truth is that most state agencies are currently operating with significant staffing shortages, and they’re tied up by limited candidate pools and restrictive rules.


  31. - Anon. - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 3:01 pm:

    ==The unfortunate truth is that most state agencies are currently operating with significant staffing shortages, and they’re tied up by limited candidate pools and restrictive rules.==

    Which just makes it easier to demonize the administrationi when the patronage positions always seem to be filled.


  32. - Budget Watcher - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 4:11 pm:

    What I was trying to say is that when IDOT skirts the rules for 25 positions out of 50,000 statewide, you shouldn’t infer that all agencies are routinely playing fast and loose with the process. In fact, most departments are struggling to hire due to budget restrictions and union provisions that limit the candidate pools. Sure there are still some patronage and nepotism occurrences, and you can condemn that if you want, but by and large agencies are playing it straight and they’re still losing ground.


  33. - steve schnorf - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 4:44 pm:

    J, I know what nepotism is, and in spite of it’s inclusion in today’s J-R article (by the BGA) it’s not a Rutan violation unless Rutan has changed. Neither is hiring or promoting because you’ve been recommended by another employee, nor because you were recommended by a minister or a labor union, etc.


  34. - Old Timer - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 5:35 pm:

    Ms. Carpenter should have said “no comment”. She sounded like an idiot in the article. For someone whose college education costs were reimbursed by IDOT, she should have known better.


  35. - Anon - Tuesday, Jun 17, 14 @ 8:50 pm:

    I wonder if Schneider remembers getting her other step daughter a job at IDOT?


  36. - Mister M - Wednesday, Jun 18, 14 @ 9:08 am:

    Anonymous/Roadpig has is mostly right, I believe and Budget Watcher misses it. Highway Maintainers, Snowbirds & Sunbirds have also been subject to connected hiring. The staff shortages are there throughout because the Gov’s office wants them to be. (”reducing headcount”) At IDOT over the Blago and Quinn years, patronage and avoidance of Rutan has been the rule. Invented positins filled by hacks. Real Union positions left vacant while the union covers political appointees. Phoney headcount reductions supplemented by in-house no-bid contracts to consultants at higher rates (with the corresponding reduction in current employees paying to the pension system), etc. etc. The political bozos took complete control of the personnel processes and when that happens what do you think you get? It’s not just a few positions - it’s hundreds and hundreds overall. Then there is all is the extra work, fear, intimidation and ultimate subjugation of the non-political staff left behind. Worst of all, this has caused a big loss in experienced professional capability. Does the public deserve better than political hacks making decisions on real public safety issues?


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