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Now it’s the county’s turn

Monday, Aug 21, 2006

This had to happen sooner or later, particularly with the whole Stroger fiasco.

Test scores get changed in Cook County government for the benefit of politically connected job seekers just as they do at Chicago’s City Hall, according to a county Highway Department supervisor.

Eric Petraitis, 41, tells the Chicago Sun-Times he felt coerced by his bosses to change the low scores of clouted candidates for county jobs so they could be hired over qualified people.

Petraitis had just finished marking scores for two candidates he interviewed for equipment operator two years ago. One candidate scored very well. The other, Dwayne Robinson, got the lowest score, records show. Petraitis said he got a call from Gerald Nichols, patronage chief for former Cook County Board President John Stroger.

“The ink wasn’t dry on my paper,” Petraitis said. “The phone rang. It was Gerald Nichols. He said, ‘I would appreciate it if you would recommend Mr. Robinson.’ He wanted me to recommend the guy that’s not qualified. I just sat there, dazed, not knowing what to do. I had already filled it out.”

So Petraitis put away the “oral interview evaluation” form with Robinson’s low scores and wrote up a new one with better ratings for Robinson — who he would later learn was active in Stroger’s 8th Ward Democratic Organization, he said. He saved the first version, which appears with this story.

Read the whole thing.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Snidely Whiplash - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 7:28 am:

    He seems to be someone who:

    1. Feels that a new administration may be coming in and wants to be seen as a “reform” type, so he can keep his job; and,

    2. Figures the feds are coming to Cook County, and doesn’t want to be indicted.

    Now that the proverbial poop has hit the fan, Krystiniak will likely be the fall guy for John Stroger.

  2. - Cassandra - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 7:32 am:

    So….Mr. Petraitis went ahead and did something
    that he apparently knew was a violation of Shakman. Why didn’t he just say no.

    We know that the Daley machine (Daley, Blago, Stroger) believes in patronage. They believe that if the politically connected candidate meets (usually very basic and general) job qualifications, it’s fine to give him/her the job for political reasons. This approach to government hiring is absolutely central to Democratic thinking, regardless of their claims of being more ethical than the Republicans.

    And they are supported by the scores of greedy and unethical lower level government employees, likely political appointees themselves, who go along with them, Mr. Petraitis being one of them. Perhaps we should increase the penalties for anyone who participates in any illegal hiring scheme such as the ones that exist at the state, Chicago city, and county levels in Democrat-controlled Illinois. Fear might help employees like Mr. Petraitis just say no to their Democratic bosses.

  3. - Squideshi - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 8:04 am:

    Typical. This is just another example of why I can not support the Democratic Party.

  4. - Wumpus - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 8:38 am:

    I know the dems are in power, but it is not only a dem problem. Given the way things are doen know, I wonder how many people who felt they were ualified, but not connected, will try to file a law suit and how far will it go.

  5. - Lee - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 8:45 am:

    Shocked! I am shocked there is cheating going on in Chicago. Shocked!
    What I am not shocked about is the cheating is being done by the Democrats.

  6. - Loop Lady - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 8:46 am:

    Yawn…this is news? Welcome to the reality that is the 8th ward patronage machine…

  7. - Bluefish - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 9:04 am:

    If Todd Stroger says: “No, I’m not concerned” then Cook County voters should be very concerned.

  8. - Lovie's Leather - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 9:28 am:

    Sweet… way to go Suntimes, proving you are Chicago’s real newspaper!

  9. - Anon - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 9:48 am:

    Squideshi -

    Since the Republicans did the same thing at the State level for years, which party DO you support?

  10. - Tom - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 9:54 am:

    Chicago machine politicians engaging in self-serving patronage is no shock. What is shocking is that Mr. Petraitis voluntarily provided this information. By coming forward he has more than atoned for his wrongs in going along with the schemes.

  11. - Garp - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 11:03 am:

    Gee what a surprise, I thought everyone from the 8th ward got the jobs because they were smarter than everyone else and tested better. Now it appears there might be some shananigans going on.

  12. - Bubs - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 11:26 am:

    Can Peraica capitalize???

  13. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 12:13 pm:

    Anyone notice the reference to alleged involvement of Al Pritchett, who is now serving as chief of staff for Bobbie Steele?

  14. - Ashur Odishoo - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 12:18 pm:

    Shakman also covers the county. Nichols and Krystiniak are the counties Reyes and Sorich. These guys did the exact same thing.

    Only time will tell if they used the US Mail for anything.

    Any sane individual, especially homeowners in Cook County have to go with Peraica on this one. This is just too much corruption and nepotism.

    Many of my Democrat friends are all over the Peraica/Claypool break the machine bandwagon.

    Ashur Odishoo
    State Representative 11th District

  15. - Anonymous Democrat - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 12:47 pm:

    Saw Stroger and Peraica at a recent event.

    Stroger talked and looked like he was running for high school student government.

    Peraica seemed earnest and competent; certainly less goofy than some of the posts here had led me to expect. Definitely emotes anger at the blossoming hiring scandals. Part of his message was that, if elected, he will stay away from the divisive social issues: will not seek to end abortions at County Hospital; not out to reverse progress on homosexual issues. Some of this stuck in his mouth before getting out and was rough enough around the edges that the activist Dems can get some ground. But he is genuinely working at it. Credible enough candidate that this annoyed Dem will cross over.

  16. - Anon-mouse - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 1:00 pm:

    I saw the two at IVI-IPO endorsement session on Saturday and agree with Annoyed Democrat (young Todd told the group that he is moving forward with technology, “you know, Microsoft and stuff” - yes, that’s an exact quote).

    The room was packed with 8th Ward County employees who shamed a once proud organization by endorsing Stroger. Turns out Stroger’s patronage chief was at the IVI-IPO endorsement session, too - taking notes on who was there and who was saying what.

    Sad part now is: Tom Dart’s endorsement by the IVI-IPO now means NOTHING.

  17. - JimBob - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 1:30 pm:

    Okay, folks- Having been in a supervisor-management role in State government for nearly 30 years, I saw all sorts of shifty ways of getting political referrals hired. The Thompson administration was the most straight-forward. They would send a list of vets for you to interview and also one other name, with verbal instructions that this was the guy (or gal) to be interviewed and hired. To Thompson’s credit, the people he referred were always excellently qualified. However, the veterans interviews were a sham. Then along came the Rutan Decision and under so-called “Mr. Clean” Jim Edgar things got more creative. We would conduct an interview and score a candidate based on objective questions. Also in the room and also scoring the candidate would be the agency’s political commissar from the personnel office. This person would then collect the interviewer’s score sheet and “average” the results, in private. The political guy always got high score. On occasion, the “results” were so outragious that managers would howl in protest to the agency director and sometimes that would get the governor’s people to back off, especially if it was obvious to everyone that the political candidate was too stupid to tie his or her shoelaces. A similar process was in place under Ryan. With all of the political micromanagement we got from Blago’s minions, we expected things to get worse. However, I must admit that the two hires I was allowed to do under the present administration were absolutely above-board and honest. Cynics that we had become over the years, we resoned that the Governor allowed us free rein to make these hires for technical jobs because there were none of his supporters with adequate credentials to understand or perform the work.

  18. - Chick McGann - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 1:40 pm:


    In answer to your question, “can Peraica capitalize?”, the answer is: no.

    In response to Anon-mouse: Why would Tom Dart care if the IVI-IPO endorsed him or not? He already won the post, just like Todd did when the Committeemen selected him to replace his father on the ballot.

  19. - anon - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 2:02 pm:

    In the article is the following:
    “Petraitis is something of an anomaly in county government. He had no political involvement when he graduated with an engineering degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1987. He was hired anyway and worked his way up to Highway Engineer V, which pays $85,000 a year.”
    $85 k per year?? I left the UofI in 1982 and some of the engineering grads that I knew were making that then. If he is only making $85k 19 years later he obviously didn’t want to be an engineer or he wasn’t very good at it. Don’t get me wrong, $85k is a lot of dough (more than I make) but still not much as a UofI engineering grad.

  20. - There are Civil Engineers and the rest are Barbarians - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 3:02 pm:

    Anon @ 2:02 said “…If he is only making $85k 19 years later he obviously didn’t want to be an engineer or he wasn’t very good at it. …”

    You would have to look at the pay brackets for an engineer 5. I have 15 years in and only make $60k. It all depends on the pay bracket and how long the person has been in a particular pay scale.

    Also saying that someone didn’t want to be an engineer or isn’t very good engineer when they are making only $85k is insulting and demeaning. Government employees make significantly less that our peers in private practice - up to 1/3 less.

    There are many good engineers working for governmental agencies. We do so by choice. For what ever reason, we feel that we are trying to improve the quality of life in our society.

  21. - Bubs - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 4:16 pm:

    “Chick”-en Little:

    Why “no”? Just saying that, without explanation, doesn’t impress much.

    I still continue to hear time and again, either directly from Democrats I know, or in reports of conversations from other Peraica workers, roughly the same line: “I’ve always voted Democratic, but not this time - I’m voting for your guy.”

    It is material like this that is turning the tide to Peraica. I believe that the tide will only grow stronger through November.

  22. - Ashur Odishoo - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 7:21 pm:

    Can you hear the Danny Davis drumbeat sounding. If you listen closely you can hear the crescendo of voices yelling “I have had enough”

    I hope the voters are wise enough to stop this coronation.

    Ashur Odishoo
    State Representative 11th District

  23. - Silas - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 9:18 pm:


    I’m not defending stroger in any way, but shouldnt you be in the precincts instead of caring what is going on in the headlines? I think I live in your district and no one from your camp has talked to me. By the way, who are you?

  24. - Anonymous - Monday, Aug 21, 06 @ 10:10 pm:

    Not who he claims to be.

  25. - Schiznitz - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 1:37 am:

    Do you have an issue?

    Vote Odishoo!

  26. - Cook county worker - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 4:15 am:

    IVI or no IVI endorsement. Stroger will not enjoy my nor my family’s vote on election day. It’s too bad that IVI’s process yielded this clown. Dependent is what Toddie Stroger and to cheapen the endorsement of all who are truly independents is sad. As a member of IVI, I will cancel my membership in light of this fiasco.

    I am sure before the election, the dirty laundry will be sufficiently aired in county government. Here’s to hoping that should the voters fail in electing a reformer that the next four years will go by quickly.

  27. - Anon - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 9:21 am:

    Peraica can’t capitalize because he’s a complete phony.

    He got his own son a County job for one thing. A son by the way that’s had some trouble with the law.

    And we’ll see how Peraica’s support for the concealed carry of handguns plays. He said that a few weeks ago on a conservative radio show.

  28. - Tom - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 1:03 pm:

    Peraica’s son getting a $26K job pales to the patronage perpetuated by Stroger and Nichols. I don’t recall Peraica having a patronage chief larding the payroll with favored applicants who weren’t the most qualified.

  29. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 1:18 pm:

    Peraica’s never been in a position to have a patronage chief. He can only do a little patronage in his current post. He WANTS the position with the patronage chief.


  30. - Tom - Tuesday, Aug 22, 06 @ 2:48 pm:

    To anon @ 1:18. Do you think ol’ Todd is going to do anything to clean up patronage? I don’t think so. It’s the culture he was raised in, and he won’t try to clean it up because it would reflect poorly on his father.

    One measly 26K job vs. years of entrenched Stroger patronage. I’ll roll the dice with Peraica. Cook County employment should be run efficiently instead of being a jobs program for underqualified Stroger hacks.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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