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Trib slams Monken detractors

Monday, Mar 30, 2009

* The Chicago Tribune editorial board is all-in for Gov. Pat Quinn’s choice to run the Illinois State Police. They’ve run an editorial that literally oozes hostility towards the young man’s detractors…

Last weekend, Gov. Pat Quinn chose 29-year-old Army combat veteran Jonathon Monken to head the Illinois State Police. The selection of a young man with no conventional policing experience provoked anonymous online complaints (evidently from veteran troopers) and on-the-record harrumphing from state senators who’ll decide whether to confirm the appointment.

It was more than just anonymous online complaining, as I told you last week, but whatever.

* The paper apparently sat down with Monken and came away impressed…

Quinn isn’t backing down. And, after hearing Monken handle probing questions about his qualifications during a Friday meeting with the Tribune editorial board, we understand why. We urge the Senate to thoroughly vet Monken and—barring some unexpected surprise—to confirm him. If the choice of Monken upsets some troopers or legislators, tough. They aren’t answerable for Monken’s performance of his duties. Quinn is.

Tough? Wow. And is there no awareness of the constitutional principle of “advise and consent”? Senators are, indeed, “answerable” for Monken’s performance because they will have to vote to confirm him.

* More…

This page often has argued that chief executives are entitled to have their own appointees in such sensitive posts, provided the appointees aren’t kooks or crooks.

Ha! Wrong. Remember how the Tribune flatly and loudly opposed Marty Cohen’s nomination to chair the Illinois Commerce Commission? Here’s a little taste

State Sen. Rickey Hendon has a message for Gov. Rod Blagojevich: Yank your controversial nomination of consumer watchdog Martin Cohen to chair the Illinois Commerce Commission or risk an embarrassing defeat in the Senate.

Blunt advice like that is a rare commodity in Springfield, especially when it comes from a key member of the governor’s own party. And in this case, it’s good advice.

Cohen was neither a “kook” nor a “crook,” but that didn’t stop the Trib from blasting the guy.

* More…

But the criticism of Monken’s résumé strikes us as exaggerated: The director’s job is to administer and inspire a big agency—less to make urgent decisions about an unfolding emergency than to have on the ground the best ISP rank officers to make those decisions. Monken wears a business suit rather than the state police uniform that he respects as symbolic of what troopers have struggled and sacrificed to earn.

State Police troopers undergo a rigorous vetting and training program and have to prove that they’re still up to the task on a regular basis. They are some of the best trained cops in the bidness, and rightfully proud of that uniform. That also understandably leads them to distrust outsiders brought in to run the show. But it’s also a cop thing. Just look at how the Chicago coppers have reacted so negatively to Mayor Daley’s pick of a former FBI guy to run that shop.

There are exaggerations on both sides. Unfortunately, the Tribune decided to exaggerate on behalf of the governor’s ISP pick instead of taking a reasonable approach to the subject. This is fast becoming the MO at that paper, and it’s a very disturbing development.

* Related…

* Quinn defends state police director pick

* New State Police chief says he’s up to challenge : “God willing, I will never face as dire a security situation as I did in Kosovo or Iraq,” Monken said. “Frankly, I have leadership experience in security and police operations as challenging as anywhere on the planet.”

* Illinois police lab delays hamper cases, report says

* Quinn may remove Box from Illinois Commerce Commission

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - How Ironic - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:16 am:

    This is a tough nut for Quinn to crack.

    While I am not convinced that the head of the ISP needs to be either a former officer, or have law enforcement experience; I do understand the pushback.

    Simply because he hasn’t been in Law Enforcement shouldn’t preclude his consideration for the post. He has been in leadership positions before, and maybe the ISP would benefit from an outside perspective. In all respects, the head of ISP IS NOT a law enforcement position. He will not be splitting his desk time with going out on patrols.

    He will be managing the organization. While he may not appreciate the day-to-day struggles of an officer, having been an officer prior to assuming the top job wouldn’t make that “better”.

  2. - Hank - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:19 am:

    “God willing, I will never face as dire a security situation as I did in Kosovo or Iraq,” Monken said.
    Poor God is being dragged into Illinois politics again. Quinn, Blago and now this guy. I can’t understand why Illinois is still so screwed up with all the input from God lately! LOL

  3. - Mr. Know-it-All - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:22 am:

    Nice smackdown on the Trib, Rich.

    I don’t know enough about Monken to comment intelligently about his qualifications - but at first glance, I’m with his detractors.

  4. - ILPundit - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:25 am:

    Here is the question no one has answered:

    “Why is Jon Monken uniquely qualified to lead the State Police at the young age of 29?”

    Being a veteran of war is a laudable thing, but it does not serve as a blanket qualification for any job.

    It is extremely rare for someone with less than 6 years of experience out of college to hold this level of job responsibility.

    In those rare cases where it does happen, it is even more rare that the individual was simply handed the role, as has been done in this case.

    Jon Monken may be great, but the odds are heavily against him having any sort of meaningful impact.

    And most importantly, the fact that the Governor made no apparent attempt to open up a search for the best qualified individual for a post this complex and important is disturbing.

  5. - Carl Nyberg - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:26 am:

    Is corruption in police forces a problem in Illinois?

    Is one of the Illinois State Police duties to investigate and prosecute corruption in other police departments?

    How well has the Illinois State Police performed this duty?

    Is it legitimate to have an outsider by the supervisor?

    Who is going to complain the loudest about having an independent set of eyes to supervise a police force? The by-the-book cops? Or the ones that have been cheating the system?

    Until the Illinois State Police does a much better job catching and prosecuting crooked cops, count me as favoring outsiders being hired.

  6. - SpfldJimbo - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:38 am:

    IL Pundit….I’m with you on this one.

    As for the Chicago Tribunes’ Editorial Board endorsement….I guess one would have to go back…check their “endorsed” winners over the years…and see how they’ve performed. My sense is, that if someone were brought in to run a major component of their operation without “journalism” experience, that they’d howl long and loud.

  7. - wordslinger - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:38 am:

    Glad there aren’t any other issues facing the state right now so a lot of time and effort can be devoted to this.

    Weiss was brought in to:

    1. Tamp down media criticism over Burge and the cop beatings.

    2. Whack a bunch of district commanders.

    3. Take the heat for an acrimonious contract negotiation.

    4. Take the fall for the next big scandal, hopefully after #3 is completed.

    What’s Moncken supposed to do?

  8. - Rich Miller - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:44 am:

    === My sense is, that if someone were brought in to run a major component of their operation without “journalism” experience, that they’d howl long and loud.===

    Two words: Sam Zell.

  9. - Macbeth - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:49 am:

    Two words: Sam Zell.

    And folks did, indeed, howl long and loud, no?

  10. - VanillaMan - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:50 am:

    Gee Carl,
    To justify Quinn’s choice, you claim that the ISP is corrupted? Talk about poor policing skills, rumor and slander. Confirming Monken couldn’t begin to satisfy the level of illegality you are claiming.

    The Tribune’s “tough” remark is also extreme. It isn’t advisable to shove a political decision down the throats of an organization with the recognized level of professionalism and culture we see in the ISP. There isn’t any public outrage over an issue that justifies the Tribune’s stand against those who question Monken’s lack of qualifications. Even Monken has been up-front in acknowledging these shortcomings, so why is it wrong for those who will be lead by Monken, to also acknowledge them?

    Monken’s appointment is a political decision. It is appropriate to question political decisions. That is why there are confirmations through political bodies like the Illinois Senate for political appointments. Is the Tribune now against this tradition? Why?

    In my opinion, it is fine for the Chicago Tribune to support Monken’s appointment. On the other hand, the paper’s attack on those who question Monken’s appointment isn’t fine. The Paper’s staffers who wrote this comment needed to have questioned their lack of balance, and perhaps could have used a little of Rich Miller’s editing overview before allowing this stinker to be published under their banner.

  11. - Justice - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:51 am:

    Experience in a particular field of endeavor is a valuable asset. I would be much more comfortable with someone from the ranks who is experienced, a good leader, and who is trusted. No complaints about Monken and I think he can make a contribution in a lessor position. We honor his service and his determination, but let him earn his way and prove his metal for holding that position in the future.

  12. - Amy - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 10:55 am:

    the question is, what is policing? is it policing only if it is done in a municipality? or, can soldiers who act in many ways, including a policing capacity, and FBI agents who work cases on the street be considered as doing policing activities.

    these same objections were leveled against Weis when Daley appointed him to be top cop in Chicago. and these objections sound more like union objections. as a person not in law
    enforcement, i’m concerned about experience and leadership.

    and when there is an institution in need of systemic change, you promote from the outside and change the culture. sometimes the culture change includes a leader who comes at the work from a different angle.

  13. - Ghost - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:07 am:

    Police experience is a red herring. Cop culture protectionism.

    Experience managing a large operation with x number of employees anda budget of Y is critical. Hoe many years of experience does this guy have running an operation where he is managing people, a budget and the attendant political process attached o the operation of whatever. That is the key issue.

  14. - Speaking at Will - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 11:42 am:

    All this complaining about Monken.

    He isn’t the perfect candidate.

    Anyone care to suggest someone else?

  15. - Niles Township - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 12:38 pm:

    With all the complaining about Monken coming from the particular legislators and “others” that it is, I am beginning to think Monken is the perfect candidate for the job.

  16. - Captain America - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 2:06 pm:

    Nothing against Monken, but law enforcement education and experience seems like a fundamental prerequisite for ISP Director simply based upon common sense. I think Quinn is wrong on this executive decision. But I have no doubt that Monken has leadership ability as a result of hs West Point education and military command experience.

  17. - JerryB - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 5:33 pm:

    The last ISP chief was Cellini’s pick and he stunk up the place. The new governor, who has tangled with Cellini corruption in the past, wants somebody who will answer to him as he cleans up a dirty agency. A good soldier with an honorable record would be preferable to any veteran of ISP politics.

  18. - Patty Kine - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 5:55 pm:

    The ISP has always thought that they were special. Who cares about rank and file with a Director coming from the department. Blago proved in corrections that it wasn’t required when he hired dozens of people from the street to run DOC. Back off people and let Quinn manage his departments. The new guy cannot do any more damage than we witnesses with Blago’s people in corrections.

  19. - North of I-80 - Monday, Mar 30, 09 @ 8:49 pm:

    Sam Zell has demonstrated repeatedly that he can build, manage and run organizations of various sizes & complexities.
    Is anyone here comparing Sam Zell’s management and administrative capabilities & accomplishments with Monken? Sam Zell would be a better ISP Director than a 29 year old who has never written or managed a budget.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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