Gov. Pat Quinn failed to rein in patronage abuses at the state transportation agency after replacing now-imprisoned Rod Blagojevich, and Quinn’s directors repeatedly hired politically connected workers in violation of the rules, the state’s top ethics investigator found.
But read down…
The report stopped well short of accusing the governor’s office of the blatantly illegal hiring practices under Blagojevich, Quinn’s two-time running mate. Meza found no evidence that Quinn’s office knew about the abuses and further noted that investigators could not demonstrate “any clear intent” by transportation officials to circumvent the so-called Rutan hiring rules that ban political considerations in most personnel matters.
* Indeed, if you read the actual report, the OIEG pretty much blames the whole thing on a handful of IDOT staffers. And those IDOT employees, the report repeatedly emphasizes, violated Quinn’s administrative order which prohibited the hiring.
And the two Transportation Secretaries in question were mainly faulted for lax oversight. Regarding Secretary Ann Schneider, the OEIG wrote…
…she delegated her personnel program responsibilities such that she could no longer be an effective overseer of the Bureau of Personnel Management
Instead, most of the fault is pinned on a couple of employees, and only one of those was recommended for termination.
* But check out this chart…
Sure looks like a whole lot of hiring while the governor was ramping up his campaign and passing a tax hike.
The inspector general’s report said dozens of the staff assistants had ties to Democrats including the top leaders of the legislature, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton, both of Chicago. The husband of Sen. Kim Lightford, D-Maywood, was also listed among the “staff assistant” category, although the lawmaker said she’s always known him as a project manager.
…Adding… I meant to put this in earlier, but the OEIG even documents how these people get hired…
According to Mr. Croke, if the agency has already identified a candidate that it wishes to hire into a Rutan-exempt position:
· the agency submits an ePAR to the Office of the Governor for approval;
· the ePAR is approved by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget;
· the ePAR is approved by both the Deputy Chief of Staff and the Chief of Staff; and
· the agency fills the vacancy with the desired candidate.
Yet there is no blame assigned to anyone in the governor’s office in the report. So, I suppose the “finds no direct link to Quinn” headline was a bit off. There is a link to Quinn’s top guys, just no blame assigned. So, I changed the hed.
Also, I found it odd that former chief of staff Jack Lavin and his (and still current) deputy chief of staff over IDOT weren’t interviewed by the OEIG. Seems like a missed opportunity there.
Again, however, the OIEG found nothing resembling a Pat Quinn smoking gun.
* Quinn bears overall responsibility as governor, of course, but he escaped much more blame that I figured he’d get, and he got out in front of the story yesterday…
Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration, stung by a federal lawsuit alleging illegal hiring amid a tough re-election campaign, announced Thursday it will eliminate 58 transportation agency jobs at the center of the dispute.
Erica Borggren, acting secretary of the Illinois Department of Transportation, announced the move along with other actions she said were necessary to restore public trust in the sprawling agency. But a spokesman for Bruce Rauner, the Republican businessman trying to unseat Quinn in November’s election, criticized the moves and questioned Quinn’s portrayal of himself as a reformer.