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Pay raises and pajamas

Thursday, Apr 26, 2007

The Statehouse was abuzz yesterday with word that Senate President Emil Jones had been seen walking into House Speaker Michael Madigan’s office. What could the two antagonists be discussing, people wondered.

It turns out, Jones wanted to see Madigan about the supplemental appropriations bill that Madigan had been holding up for weeks. The Pantagraph has more…

Illinois lawmakers approved billions in new spending Wednesday, including cash for their own pay raises and a windfall for hospitals.

Last year, lawmakers decided not to block a measure that awarded themselves and some state executives about 15 percent in pay raises. But the cash to pay them had never been approved.

A House panel voted 4-2 Wednesday to pay about $1.5 million for those raises and billions more for other programs.

The spending measure included a key provision that gives about $2.4 billion to the state’s hospitals in order to leverage billions of federal money. The state has to pay for the federal government to give its full amount.

Meanwhile, in another budget-related matter, DHS is stonewalling reporters who want the agency to back up its claims about the “Pajama Scandal.”

The state Department of Human Services refuses to turn over records to back up its claim that two highly paid aides had other duties besides chauffeuring their bosses.

Department officials said the decision to keep the documents secret was supported by the state’s top lawyer, Attorney General Lisa Madigan. But Madigan’s office disputed that Wednesday, calling the claim “completely inaccurate.”

Human Services Secretary Carol Adams has told lawmakers that Carlos Estes and Eugene Davis were not mere drivers. Their job descriptions also say they wrote articles to educate the public, delivered speeches and press briefings, conducted special studies and research, and handled agency correspondence.

But in response to a Freedom of Information Act request for such records from The Associated Press, DHS said the documents could be kept secret under the law because they were “drafts” meant for internal decision-making.

I spoke to an organization yesterday that gets much of its funding through DHS. I told them that lawmakers may be unwilling to give a lot more money to an agency when they don’t trust the director. This story won’t help matters much.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - So Ill - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 9:12 am:

    Rich, a couple of questions regarding the pay raises. The move was attached to a bill that would fund the Franklin County Juvenile Center.

    When that bill passed the Senate, Gary Forby was the sponsor. If the added pay passes the House, can’t Forby simply refuse to call the bill? I apologize if I’m wrong…my parliamentary procedure knowledge is next to nil.

    And I notice that Rep. John Bradley pulled his name off the bill after the proceedings in committee yesterday. Are those things related?

  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 9:45 am:

    What’s it gonna take to get FOIA law rewritten to achieve it’s intended goal, and penalize those who impede it?

  3. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 10:07 am:

    “So Ill” thanks for pointing that out. Hilarious.

  4. - So Ill - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 10:22 am:

    Might be more than funny, Rich. From November ‘06 (Bloomington Pantagraph):

    State Sen. Gary Forby, a Benton Democrat, opposed the increase and said he may donate the added money to charity if the House doesn’t vote to block ComEd and Ameren from raising their rates.

    “I am going to wait and see what happens with the rate freeze issue. I just don’t think we ought to be taking a pay raise if people are going to see 50 percent increases in their electric bills,” Forby said.

    So how can Forby possibly call the bill in the Senate? And then doesn’t the FCJDU just get screwed?

  5. - Cassandra - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 10:37 am:

    Pajamagate may be emblematic of matters over at DHS under Adams, but the focus should be on Howe Developmental Center and its apparent deteroration under Adams’ tenure, as demonstrated by the feds’ decision to hold up federal monies until needed changes are made. Since the Center’s director, who just departed, was appointed in September 2003, this is not a state of affairs Adams or Blago can blame on George Ryan.

    Pajamgate is an entertaining story of cronyism, patronage and bad jugment, at best. But the failure to meet pretty minimal standards for some of the most vulnerable ciitzens of Illinois is an outrage and Adams and Blago should be held fully accountable.

  6. - So Ill - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 10:46 am:

    Revised thought: It’s a trade. Pay Raises for Com Ed.

    House passes an electric bill including Com Ed today. House also passes bill including pay raises.

    Forby holds pay raise bill until Senate passes Com Ed provision. Then, Forby calls pay raise bill.

    Everyone wins.

  7. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 11:36 am:

    When I first read this headline, I thought Emil Jones had worn pajamas to his meeting with MJM. I would assume they would be footy pajamas with a nice white belly (hat tip to “Family Guy”).

    Seriously, though, this DHS issue is terrible. Why do we even have FOIA in this state? When does anything actually get answered? It’s nice that Carol Adams doesn’t think enough of the people she’s paid (handsomely) to serve to at least release some of the info. Shame shame.

  8. - Tessa - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 4:21 pm:

    Have any of you ever seen Carol Adams in person? She’s a pretty intimidating sight. And she talks a good game too, saying she’ll do things and not following through. I thought highly of her when she first took over, but learned otherwise very quickly. Nothing gets done and nothing changes for the better for the people who need services.

    I tell you, the person who was temporarily assigned in the past to run Howe did a good job. Too bad they didn’t assign him again and instead hired a new person to come in. Yet again, hire a new person to come in and waste more money instead of using someone already on board.

    They need to do a thorough cleaning in DHS and get some truly good people in place. People who care about the people we’re supposed to serve and about the bottom line.

  9. - In the Sticks - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 6:59 pm:

    Not only DHS operations are stretched and strained, the physical facilities are simply deteriorating to the point that they will be inhabitable. There has been very little maintenance project capital spending since the 3rd year of Ryan’s administration. This administration has cut all spending on physical facilities, both bond funded and grf.

    The 24 hour a day facilities don’t have enough in their own maintenance budgets to make it through the year. By this time - they wonder how they are going to buy lightbulbs.

  10. - Disgusted - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 7:57 pm:

    Let’s see what we have here.

    Agencies run by incompetents; overpaid minor workers; legislators who vote themselves a big raise while front-line workers have waited for 5 years; a governor who sells state business to the highest campaign contributors and who has increased the state debt instead of decreasing it; a state divided by attitudes - city vs. country; unaccountable legislators who consider it their right to have their government jobs and do almost anything to keep them; a state government that does not listen to its employer - the taxpayers - run by people who are shameless in their lack of concern and hubris. Is that about right?

    The federal government, led by Fitz’s investigators, should clean house and find some people who really know how to operate the business that is state government and who are held personally responsible for resulting problems. We are the laughing stock of the country.

  11. - bluedog demo - Thursday, Apr 26, 07 @ 8:38 pm:

    Dr. Carol Adams like her boss Blago is a show horse not a work horse. They don’t have the day to day operational savy to lead an agency or the State of Illinois. Can’t help but think about one of the 2003 inargural balls when the hangers on were all over the Blago couple for pictures and autographs. Indeed there were some ” seedy ” looking characters in those photo-ops and many have probably wound up in state government !

  12. - anon A - Friday, Apr 27, 07 @ 5:54 am:

    We are officially in a ‘State of Disgrace’. It looks like a big game that the politicians are playing with the citizens of Illinois. What is the status of (all) the federal investigations?

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