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The gang that couldn’t shoot straight

Thursday, Apr 28, 2005

The Blagojevich administration is caught in another prevarication.

State prison officials backed away from claims that they need $18 million in emergency funds because of a costly union contract Wednesday as lawmakers grilled them about the budget.

Corrections Department officials and the governor’s budget office instead acknowledged they needed the extra money because they miscalculated the number of employees who would be leaving through attrition. […]

Corrections officials first blamed the need for emergency funds on a renegotiated contract with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees. The department said it increased costs by $35 million.

AFSCME disputed that characterization of the contract, saying it gave employees a raise but also required them to pay more into the state pension system. Executive Director Henry Bayer called the department’s budget explanation a “fantasy.”

At a time when the administration desperately needs to be seen as credible so it can back up its claims that it was shafted in the CMS audit, the geniuses pull something like this. Not a good thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 28, 05 @ 7:18 am:

    Is anyone really surprised that AFSCME would dispute the true costs of their contract? Of course they are going to dispute the true impact of their contract because they don’t want everyone to know that the sweet deal that they got is the reason for state agency budget shortfalls. AFSCME is notorious for disputing administration figures and spewing out baseless figures of their own that they are never asked to back-up.

  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 28, 05 @ 7:30 am:

    Ummm…this is the contract that representatives of THE STATE and AFSCME agreed to…notice the words AGREED TO. Unless something has gone awry with the fulfilling of the contract, both parties should be equally prepared to deal with any fallout in the state’s operations or budget as a result of fulfilling said contract.

    And the representatives of the STATE should be held more accountable, since they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for determining what the taxpayers of the state can afford, and negotiating on that basis.

  3. - Roy Slade - Thursday, Apr 28, 05 @ 8:05 am:

    This post has been removed by the author.

  4. - Roy Slade - Thursday, Apr 28, 05 @ 8:07 am:

    The next logical question is to ask if the DOC’s Fiscal year 2005 dollars have been “re-appropriated” for efficiency initiatives by CMS? Reportedly, it was nearly 13 million dollars…

    It simply boggles the mind to think that DOC should “pay” CMS for invisible savings. Only in Springfield and only with Blagos leadership is this appropriate math.

  5. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 28, 05 @ 8:53 am:

    not surprised that AFSCME would dispute the true costs of the contract, but the last graf has GOMB backing up what AFSCME said, not what the DOC said.

    “Bob Greenley of the governor’s budget office agreed the renegotiated contract was not the cause of budget gap. He said the shortfall is because the administration miscalculated the number of people the department would lose to attrition.”

    in any event, DOC’s requesting could have been more effective had DOC not first blamed AFSCME, who was ironically only there to support DOC’s request for a supplemental and wound up explaining the contract for everyone because no one from DOC actually knew its contents.

  6. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 28, 05 @ 9:24 am:

    “Bob Greenley of the governor’s budget office agreed the renegotiated contract was not the cause of budget gap. He said the shortfall is because the administration miscalculated the number of people the department would lose to attrition.”

    I thought that attrition would have saved them money, lower head count, lower personal services cost. Not sure how they do the math. Must have had help from CMS.

  7. - Vanilla World - Thursday, Apr 28, 05 @ 9:47 am:

    What kind of administration blames it’s supporters to cover their mismanagement? This one does!

    It is no wonder why we are seeing so many GOP candidates willing to take on this governor.

    The Blagojevich Amateur Hour continues to insult their 2002 supporters. AFSCME has been showing up at GOP functions to listen. I guess the union is tired of being insulted too.

  8. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 28, 05 @ 10:42 am:

    How does attrition add up to increased costs? Don’t need any more employees and the new hires will have lower salaries than those who retire or just go away. Just another fishy explanation I guess.

  9. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 29, 05 @ 5:50 am:

    “Of course they are going to dispute the true impact of their contract because they don’t want everyone to know that the sweet deal that they got is the reason for state agency budget shortfalls”.

    I agree! AFSCME is not going to tell the general public that part of their “sweet deal” was made on the backs of the families of in-mates, that they negotiated to have prices of commissary goods raised 35%, that vending machine costs were raised 10 - 15 % (a deck of playing cards at EMCC is $4.00!), etc.

    On the other hand, DOC is not going to tell the general public that a percentage of the new generated funds were to be put into an inmate fund for inmate services. If they were to do that, they would have to explain why last summer, when the air conditioning at East Moline Corrections went out of the whole facility, the Administration pilfered that in-mate fund to put air conditioners in the administration building ONLY or why the inmates there were without cable for about six months after the cable company discovered a “privileged” inmate had been pirating cable channels, with the knowledge of the administration.

    Just one of many examples of Blago’s “ethical” administration.

  10. - |_a5a||e - Friday, Apr 29, 05 @ 8:11 am:

    I hink what they meant was they would have more people take the wonderful early retirement deal of a weeks pay for years served and of course no pension.

  11. - Roy Slade - Friday, Apr 29, 05 @ 8:13 am:

    Ohhh my God…cry me a river! They are inmates- if they want creature comforts as you or I- then DON’T COMMIT A CRIME! Most people think the inmates in our Illinois state facilities have it too easy- libraries, gyms, three square meals a day, TV, etc.

    The sheriff in Arizona that erected the “tent city” has it right. I would model our system after his- inmates wearing pink jumpsuits, make them go to school or work inside the prison (for NO PAY), dig ditches, etc., whatever it took to make them NOT want to come back.

    Now, if you are indicating a desire that our current Governor may be a potential inmate real soon….well, I happen to agree with you. Hopefully, he will share a jail cell with our previous Governor.

  12. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 29, 05 @ 3:56 pm:

    Human services needs money because of those uncontrollable unions, too?

    Rep. Rosemary Mulligan, R-Des Plaines, criticized the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget for authorizing a pay raise last year for in-home caretakers when Aging’s budget was already off track. She acknowledged the pay increase from $6.10 to $6.96 for this fiscal year was well-deserved but questioned the funding stream for it.

    “What was the discussion when this raise was decided to be given in December?” Mulligan said. “How did you think you were going to pay for it when their budget was already inadequate? What in God’s name were you thinking about when this went on?” […]

    A spokeswoman for the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget said the wage negotiations were unpredictable.

    “Those are circumstances we have no control over whatsoever,” said Becky Carroll of the governor’s budget office.

    Maybe an audit of the union negotiating squad is needed if they have no control whatsoever over the negotiating process?

  13. - Anonymous - Saturday, Apr 30, 05 @ 5:06 am:

    YO, Roy! I was giving an example of tolerated, even sanctioned, unethical behaviors by members of this administration and DOC.

    The Administration at EMCC KNEW the inmate was pirating cable channels and turned their heads. When they were BUSTED, all of the men were punished. When Blago’s office was informed of the issue, they also turned their heads!

    THEN, the EMCC Administration goes on to pilfer monies specifically set aside for inmate services! Again, when contacted, the gov’s office ignored that issue also, as did the powers that be at DOC headquarters in Springfield! That is ok with you? YES, those men are inmates; however, they are also human beings!

    That said, I certainly do hope Blago and the previous gov can be cellmates in the future! This administration is just as crooked in its own way, as was Ryans.

  14. - Tessa - Sunday, May 1, 05 @ 8:30 am:

    To put in bluntly, the contract between AFSCME and the state, which was negotiated in good faith and had a heck of a team from management, was negotiated and agreed to before the budget was finalized. The fiscal yera 05 budget went into overtime and the Gov and legislature didn’t figure in any of the costs involved in the contract that was done. Is that the regular employee of the state’s fault? No. Don’t think you could say that.

    And don’t blame AFSCME for actually trying to help get the supplemental passed for DOC, DHS, etc..

    Cuts were made at DOC that don’t make sense, and now they are laying off guards, making prisons more unsafe. You that criticize want to go spend a few days there guarding the inmates? You, some pepper spray, a radio and 100+ inmates together. The inmates are unhappy because the food they’re getting is not of the same quality (money gets cut it affects everyone), and commissary is affected.

    I’m just saying before you point fingers it helps to see the whole picture. Negotiations got done in May. The budget wasn’t set until July. Somebody didn’t share information or didn’t bother to make sure changes were covered. Don’t blame the people doing the work, especially when they are most likely doing the work of two or more people.

  15. - ChicagoDog - Sunday, May 1, 05 @ 4:36 pm:

    Amen Tessa, the Governor came into office attacking State employees as lazy and worthless. In an entirely calculated fashion Blago created a culture of viciousness directed at anyone who had been a State employee prior to January 2003. He imported thugs from Chicago to run the agencies into the ground. You students of 20th century history may note the incredible parallels between Blago and a well know leader from China. I believe Blago’s real inspiration for his approach to governmnet is Mao Tse Tung’s Cultural Revolution which nearly destroyed that country from the inside. Like the Chinese it may take decades to dig the State out of the hole Chairman Rod has dug for us. Oh by the way…Mao also got an 18 on his ACT’s.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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