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It wasn’t cleaned up after all

Thursday, Aug 7, 2014

* From an April 25, 2014 AP report

The Illinois Department of Transportation increased the number of jobs that can be filled based on politics or loyalty by 57 percent in the last decade, documents released Friday show. […]

They deal with the hiring of people for “staff assistant” positions - generally paying about $40,000 a year - that the administration deemed were exempt from rules set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1990 ruling on an Illinois case known as Rutan. The Better Government Association reported last summer that IDOT skirted Rutan prohibitions on hiring based on politics or loyalty by putting people into the staff assistant positions. […]

IDOT said the audit Quinn ordered was of 61 positions - those still classified as staff assistants - and that the state’s personnel agency, the Department of Central Management Services, found that Rutan applied to 50 of them. IDOT said Rutan restrictions would be followed when filling those positions going forward but did not indicate that anyone would lose his job.

Anderson on Friday reported an updated number, saying that 48 of 60 posts were found to be misclassified and should be covered by Rutan rules.

* In May, the Associated press asked IDOT and CMS which specific jobs had been reclassified. The AP’s FOIA request was denied. Why? Read on

But the administration denied the requests, citing an exemption under the law for documents deemed preliminary, “in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions formulated.”

Um, wait. Preliminary? I thought the administration said the classifications had changed. What’s going on?

* It appears that the administration hadn’t actually changed the classifications even though it claimed to have done so

The FOIA denial contradicts the administration’s assertion that it fixed the problem in the spring. […]

Quinn’s office referred questions to the state personnel agency, which handles such reviews. Department of Central Management Services spokeswoman Alka Nayyar acknowledged in an emailed statement that the process had not been completed. […]

Neither Nayyar nor Quinn’s spokesman Grant Klinzman responded to questions about the contradiction in the administration’s statements.

* More

The administration also is refusing to disclose the guidelines the government has used for two decades to decide which jobs must be open to any applicant and which can be given to someone because of his or her political connections.

Sheesh.

Answer the questions, for crying out loud.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


56 Comments
  1. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    =The administration also is refusing to disclose the guidelines the government has used for two decades to decide which jobs must be open to any applicant and which can be given to someone because of his or her political connections.=

    At the start of the Rutan era under Edgar, CMS would issue a list of jobs that were always Rutan covered (janitors, etc.). At some point after Steve Schnorf became Director of Bureau of the Budget, CMS quit issuing the list, implicitly say ALL state jobs might be Rutan exempt.


  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:32 pm:

    The Rutan Settlement Agreement required a public list of all exempt jobs so people would know. Even that tiny part of transparency has been gone for years. The shame is that unlike the Shakman decree the settlement was never embodied in a court order that could be enforced. Maybe Michael Shakman is on to something useful in his new federal pleadings.


  3. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:41 pm:

    None of this is a surprise to anyone who worked at IDOT over the past couple of decades since Rutan became the law. The fact that my old district’s headquarters still has at least 4-5 political animals doing made up “work”( in management level jobs )that they weren’t even qualified to do (let alone having to go through any real hiring testing or interviews) burned us real employees up, and it still ticks me off, even though I have been retired for a couple of years. These are people who not only have direct contact with the governors office, but also make budgeting decisions (poorly, I might add) that affect all of the rest of the actual workers. Clean up this mess, and stop using IDOT as the party in power’s patronage dumping ground !


  4. - Phenomynous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:45 pm:

    Payton Prep vs. IDOT

    What bothers you more?


  5. - Old Timer - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    Every position in every agency is approved by the governor’s office.


  6. - Anon. - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    ==Answer the questions, for crying out loud.==

    a) The pension debt is squeezing the life out of our budget.
    b) OK, but Bruce Rauner is hiding all his money in the Cayman Islands.
    c) The governor is working night and day to resolve this issue.
    d) All of the above


  7. - Demoralized - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:55 pm:

    ==Every position in every agency is approved by the governor’s office.==

    True, but in Rutan covered positions they can’t see who the candidate is.


  8. - Mason born - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 12:59 pm:

    Ewhat does Pat Quinn beome if he loses the Integrity question? Rauner can be accused of Misleading and Obscuring and he has. Now we have Quinn blatantly lying and covering it up.

    To me Quinn strength has benn his perception of “not a great Governor but an honest guy and gosh he is trying his best kind of governor.” Between this and the NRI Federal investigation can we safely say that image is toast and if so what does he have to run on? Can it really be “ya i’m a jerk politician but that guy is a jerk businessman who is rich?”

    Oh if only both of them could lose.


  9. - Soccertease - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    The Quinn administration didn’t follow through on “fumigating” the Blago administration either. Following through isn’t one of their strong points.


  10. - CircularFiringSquad - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    Yawn..wait til Flip applies his PATCO solution to IDOT…in January! Ever see Shakman and his paymaster HandoutAndy drive snowplows?


  11. - Boone's is Back - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    Between this and NRI it seems like Rauner almost has too much to work with. Kind of a nice problem to have…


  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:05 pm:

    Pat Quinn, job creator, like his ads say.


  13. - OneMan - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:10 pm:

    There is resolved and than there is resolved…..


  14. - I'm reassured - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    There’s nothing that gives a governor credibility like hiring Rod Blagojevich’s old spokesman.


  15. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:18 pm:

    The government claim above mentioned by Demoralized is naïve. I have seen ePar computer screens and indeed those who know how DO see the names on Rutan covered applications. Plus there are a dozen ways to communicate candidate info outside of the ePar program. The Governors (all of them) have controlled this kind of patronage without stop. Rutan just makes them pretend that there are checks and balances.


  16. - Demoralized - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    @Anonomyous:

    I deal in this world and you are simply wrong. The names don’t even go in the system until AFTER the person is hired if it is a Rutan position. You may believe what you want but you would be wrong. I deal in the process everyday and know how it works.


  17. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    They’re stonewalling, which is unacceptable as policy.

    If they’re stonewalling for political reasons, it’s stupid, because it’s going to come out eventually, and it just inflames the issue and allows your opponents to imply the worst and that you’re covering something up.

    Always best to clear the decks and get stuff like this behind you as quickly as possible. The Master Stonewaller himself learned that lesson the hard way 40 years ago this week.


  18. - Demoralized - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:33 pm:

    I thought the Civil Service Commission had to approve all positions classified as exempt. Does anybody know how they got these through that process? Having dealt with the Commission before I know it can be a little difficult so I’m just curious if anybody knows anything.


  19. - Cassiopeia - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    The only logical reason for not revealing the truth is because the truth will hurt.


  20. - Lou Holtz - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:38 pm:

    In fact Mr. O’Connor’s article does not show that the administration contradicted itself. But it does appear that O’Connor is contradicting himself. The AP article from 8/6 fails to reference AP reports from earlier in the year reporting on the release of hundreds of IDOT personnel documents. These were disclosed it seems pursuant to FOIA as a result of discovery to Mr. Shakman and at least one AP article suggests that other such documents and memoranda were leaked somehow. So it appears that there has been a great deal of detailed disclosure regarding the reforms. Further as the AP reported the Governors Office issued a memo in early July banning all political hiring and establishing other reforms. So the claims of 1. Not being transparent and 2. Failing to take steps to address the issues are false. The charges are contradicted by Mr O’Connor’s own reporting.

    There is a transparency issue here however. Why doesn’t O’Connor produce the exact FOIA request he submitted which was apparently denied? What wasn’t disclosed that should have been? How does the non disclosure of these documents prove that the administration hasn’t addressed the situation OR that there is any contradiction.
    As has been demonstrated in past years Mr. O’Connor makes a troubling habit of playing fast and loose with facts - he uses selective quotes and partially truthful reporting to try to prove predetermined hysterical and misleading claims.

    The AP needs to come clean here. What did they specifically request. Show us the actual letter. Show the denial. Explain clearly why all the documents that were reported on before apparently no longer prove that the administration undertook steps to address the issues at DOT.


  21. - dupage dan - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    This makes Quinn look like a hack. If it walks like one, talks like one and smells like one……


  22. - Anonymoiis - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:40 pm:

    ==Answer the questions, for crying out loud==

    To be fair, they did answer questions months ago…of course we know now that those answers were all lies…


  23. - Some Guy - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:44 pm:

    The IDOT paper shredders have been very busy recently.


  24. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    I wonder if the reason they haven’t disclosed the guidelines is that there are none. Better make ‘em up quick.


  25. - Anon. - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:45 pm:

    ==There’s nothing that gives a governor credibility like hiring Rod Blagojevich’s old spokesman.==

    Except hiring Rod himself, but he has a prior engagement.


  26. - Pete - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    Payton Prep vs. IDOT

    What bothers you more?

    IDOT. It’s the backbone of our state’s commerce.


  27. - Skeptic - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 1:51 pm:

    “Payton Prep vs. IDOT” How do you know that PP isn’t the tip of a very large (and perhaps even more illegal and/or unethical) iceberg? Also, considering how “forthcoming” (I say sarcastically) Bruce has been during this campaign, what makes you think he would act any differently, if not stonewall even more vigorously? Is his answer to FOIA going to be “we’ll detail that in a few months” and then issue a glossy four-page memo which doesn’t answer the request? Exactly, we don’t know either.


  28. - Original Rambler - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    My understanding is that when Ernst & Young developed the Rutan exemption criteria several decades ago, it was INTENTIONALLY kept secret so agencies would not tailor job descriptions to meet the criteria for exemption.

    And the Civil Service City Commission has nothing to do with the Rutan exemption process.


  29. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:38 pm:

    Pivot me this, IDOT rolled out its new web site this week. Most are reporting that it doesn’t work (either).


  30. - Roadiepig - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:39 pm:

    Both .

    And that brings us back to the problem most of us have with the two wonderful choices we have come November …


  31. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:40 pm:

    Rambler. you are exactly right. That is why CMS originally wouldn’t release the criteria. But it was only about 25 years ago, not several decades. I don’t know if that’s still the reason or not. And you are right the the Civil Service Commission only approves exemptions from different parts of the Civil Service Act, not from Rutan.


  32. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:46 pm:

    this idot job is bleeping golden


  33. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:50 pm:

    Soccertease -
    =The Quinn administration didn’t follow through on “fumigating” the Blago administration either. Following through isn’t one of their strong points.=

    As Rich has pointed out on more than one occasion, the people to be “fumigated” generally had sponsors still in the General Assembly. And according to Tom Cross there were innocent people on the fumigation list. Blago may be gone, but the sponsor(s) remains.
    http://capitolfax.com/2009/08/27/more-on-the-u-of-i-hynes-and-fumigation/
    https://twitter.com/jimleach/statuses/3581244021


  34. - Anonymous - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:56 pm:

    ==There’s nothing that gives a governor credibility like hiring Rod Blagojevich’s old spokesman.==

    This is an excellent question. Aren’t spokes-people exempt? If so, why has Quinn stuck with Blago mouthpieces?


  35. - walker - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 2:57 pm:

    They’re stonewalling now, or they were misleading then when they said the jobs had been reclassified. Bad either way.

    Peyton Prep vs. IDOT?: IDOT by a mile, if it’s as bad as it seems to be.

    Feds and NRI vs. Cayman Islands?: Caymans by a nose for the average voter, even though both will turn out to have very little of real substance.


  36. - A guy... - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 3:07 pm:

    Walk, can’t agree with you on NRI. That’s big, really big. It’s corruption, vote buying with public funds. And it’s going to blow up huge in October. Nothing is bigger.


  37. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    A Guy, the NRI audit was scorching, but I didn’t see any part about vote buying. How’s about you?

    Is that how street money works? You take a 60-120 day promissory note from a candidate who looks like he’s going down hard and wouldn’t be able to pay off? You put out a big effort in that scenario?


  38. - walker - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 3:26 pm:

    A guy: You might be right.

    As I said, both will turn out not to have much of real substance. Given that there’s really nothing much there (beyond some wasted money), in either case, I just think suspected personal tax advantage hits a bigger nerve than suspected political dealings during an election. The timing, as you say, does favor Rauner.


  39. - A guy... - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 3:35 pm:

    === wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 3:20 pm:

    A Guy, the NRI audit was scorching, but I didn’t see any part about vote buying. How’s about you?===

    Question for you: Did PQ do this so just in case he lost to Brady, this very important initiative would be fulfilled to eliminate gang violence? He dumped millions into neighborhoods where if people went to the polls, there was a remarkable tendency of over 90% that they’d vote for Democrats. Rushed it in a matter of weeks and let the thieves distribute the money.
    Indirect vote buying is still….


  40. - Skeptic - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 3:49 pm:

    A guy: “Vote for me and I’ll cut your taxes” isn’t also “vote buying?”


  41. - Demoralized - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 3:53 pm:

    @A guy:

    It’s completely disingenuous to suggest vote buying unless you want to claim that for every bit of money a politician goes around handing out during his or her term. You are really grasping at straws with that one I think. There is plenty of other things to look at with NRI, but vote buying isn’t one of them.

    Besides, if it was vote buying it was cheap since no money got released before the election.


  42. - wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    A Guy, try to follow. No money went out until two months after the election.

    Can you buy votes on a 60-120 day promissory note? Especially when you look like a loser, no matter what, and wouldn’t be able to come through on the promise?

    Read the audit. There’s plenty there.


  43. - A guy... - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    Fellas, fellas, fellas, I feel you, I read you, I hear you, I understand you. Now, did money change hands or not?

    And Skeptic, ask your mom that question. Is any public money being distributed in your scenario? Take your time, I’ll wait.


  44. - Demoralized - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:07 pm:

    ==I understand you. ==

    No, you don’t. No money changed hands before the election so, as I said, it was vote buying on the cheap. Who wouldn’t buy votes if all it took was a promise to pay tomorrow for a hamburger today?

    You are really going the haywire route with this vote buying nonsense.


  45. - A guy... - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:12 pm:

    ===No money changed hands “before the election” so…====

    Demo, isn’t that somewhat of a curious qualifier? No one’s questioning Pat Quinn’s credit with the people’s money, are they? Just like Wimpy, he was good for it.


  46. - Skeptic - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    “Is any public money being distributed in your scenario?” Yes. Especially by Raunterbot logic. You know, “By not lowering taxes you’re raising taxes.” As I recall a famous Republican once said, “If it walks like a duck…”


  47. - Demoralized - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:19 pm:

    I’m saying if it was a vote buying scheme it was inept. I don’t know what is going to come of this investigation but I can guarantee you that vote buying won’t be part of it. Why you are going down that road I have no idea.

    And did Wimpy ever pay?


  48. - A guy... - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:47 pm:

    ==And did Wimpy ever pay?===

    This ought to be the question of the day. I have no idea.


  49. - A guy... - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:47 pm:

    But I do know Pat did! lol.


  50. - Anon - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 4:50 pm:

    Republicans are starving for state patronage. If Rauner wins, we’ll see how carefully he observes the letter and spirit of Rutan. My guess is that party leaders hope their first GOP governor since 2003 won’t embrace strict constructionism.


  51. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 7:02 pm:

    NRI is not vote buying. But I find it hilarious that Republicans have reduced their attack from accusing Quinn of using government money to pay folks to work on Election Day to this: Quinn promised to fund anti-violence efforts to convince people to vote for him.

    Promising a group of business leaders that you will invest $1 million with them in an effort to persuade them to vote for you might be vote buying. It isn’t clear yet.


  52. - kathryn - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 7:24 pm:

    The Gov’s office and IDOT cant answer the question because nothing has been done. There is nothing new to report. Everyone in question still have their jobs even if obtained illegaly by ignoring Rutan.


  53. - steve schnorf - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 8:03 pm:

    anon 4:50–it ain’t like it used to be, and never will be again. We could argue about whether that’s good or bad, but either way it’s over except for a few thousand jobs


  54. - Ginhouse Tommy - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 8:04 pm:

    When are people going to figure out that things simply will never change no matter what anyone says. It’s all apart how things are done in state govt.


  55. - I-64 - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 9:33 pm:

    Is anyone really surprised?


  56. - Ginhouse Tommy - Thursday, Aug 7, 14 @ 9:55 pm:

    I-64 No.


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