* Fox Chicago took a look at legislative staffers who also go off payroll to work on political campaigns. They focus solely on the House Democratic staff, whom they refer to as “Madigoons“…
“What they really are, are political workers with side jobs in the off season,” Means said. “They keep them employed so they’ll be around for the next political season. And that really does seem to me to be the tail wagging the dog.”
FOX Chicago News examined three years of legislative payroll records, and then compared them with political campaign expenditures. We found 34 Democratic House employees under the control of Speaker Madigan taking off from their jobs for weeks, sometimes months at a time.
From what I was told a couple of weeks ago by Fox, they could only find four or so House Republican staffers who dropped off state payroll. I thought that number seemed quite small, since they’re staffing most of the same campaigns as the Democrats. The HGOP number isn’t in the story, however. Maybe a follow-up is planned. I dunno.
…Adding… Dane Placko just called. He said they’re planning a story on the Republicans tonight. He eventually found a total of 13 HGOP staffers who also worked on campaigns. More than originally, but still not a lot by comparison. I’m looking forward to the piece.
But Decremer took off seven months in 2007, four months in 2008 and another four months in 2009. He has made more than $40,000 from political campaigns.
His specialty? Challenging the petitions of candidates Madigan wants off the ballot.
And with Illinois facing a $13 billion deficit, with all these people bouncing on and off the payroll, it begs the question–
“Is that a job we need in state government?”
Former Federal Prosecutor Patrick Collins chaired the Illinois Reform Commission, which lost its battle to curb the clout of the legislative leaders.
“Is that a job we need in state government? Because if it can go unfilled for four or five or six months at a crack, I can guarantee you there’s a cheaper way to provide that service to the people of the State of Illinois,” Collins said.
That’s certainly one way of looking at it, and I won’t dispute its validity. But when the GA isn’t in session, all of its staff just isn’t needed. Then again…
But that’s not what our investigation found. When the legislature was battling Gov. Rod Blagojevich over a budget stalemate in 2008, with plenty of work to do, nearly half of Madigan’s staff was off the state payroll doing political work.
Analysts, program specialists, legal assistants and even the house photographer bounced on and off the state payroll. His specialty is campaign mailings.
While on leave, those state workers collect paychecks from political campaigns. We counted a total of $728,000 in political pay the past three years.
“We’ve had so much in Illinois where politics drives our government. I think it would be a good time for government to essentially take the priority role,” said former prosecutor Collins.
Actually, nobody was doing much during that stalemate, but I see the point.
The only thing anyone should take away from this article regarding Shaw Decremer is that he doesn’t get paid nearly enough. A guy that works so hard and selflessly doesn’t deserve this type of negative attention. Not cool, Fox.
- Dog the Bounty Hunter - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 9:46 am:
Good call, Obamarama. They don’t mention that these guys work 12-14 hour days when the legislature is in session, and even more when they go off state payroll, for not a lot of money. The state is getting a bargain as far as I’m concerned.
And it’s nice they could get comments about the Speaker’s operation from an objective 3rd party like Patrick Collins.
@Niles have you watched FOX lately? Good Day Chicago has become a local version of FOX & FRIENDS. Yesterday they ran a piece on “another major newspaper” that called out Obama’s Chicago connections. The other major newspaper? The Times of London. Think about it, FOX Chicago is going overseas for back-up in bashing the president. Oh boy.
Sadly, FOX Chicago is becoming a local version of the cable news network.
- Still Gettin Twisted - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 9:47 am:
I don’t think the problem is Shaw Decremer, the problem is the extent that Madigan takes people on and off the payroll. Both parties are guilty. I don’t want to hear about how we can’t cut anymore from State Government..
No, Shaw Decremer got exactly what he deserved. The guy wasn’t even smart enough to say, “no comment.” Instead, he stood there looking like a fool. He got caught taking advantage of the system, and has nothing to say for it.
Secondly, these folks are worked like rented mules for far less compensation than they would if they were in the “private sector.” Beating up on the staffers is tasteless and pointless. Who do you think does all of the real work in Springfield? Midnight caucus anyone?
Niles T: i generally agree, but this piece fits their corporate culture. it’s not news, it’s an attack piece. i have no great love for madigan’s staffers, but i certainly wouldn’t slam them for following the law when working on campaigns. that isn’t the problem…
==The real issue is that Madigan makes sure they can keep their benefits paid for by the state while they are out working ploitically==
What benefits? Ask these guys and gals about how screwed up their benefits are because they can’t contribute to them six months a year. And frankly, I know some of them, their salaries absolutely suck to begin with for the hours they log.
Dane Placo presented a biased piece. He did not cover the extent of their governance work AT ALL, only the political side off the payroll.
=== Jim - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 9:45 am: The real issue is that Madigan makes sure they can keep their benefits paid for by the state while they are out working ploitically. ===
The State doesn’t pay benefits when a staffer takes a leave of absence. They don’t continue to earn vacation or sick time. They don’t continue to earn pension credit. They have to pay their own health insurance (sometimes near $1,000 a month).
- Anon But Not Anon - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:01 am:
If the US Attorney thinks that the staffers are not essential to government, then maybe the federal government should take away his paralegals for six months and see how his office operates. I’m guessing those paralegals are about as essential to his office as MJM staffers are to the Speaker during the legislative session.
===he guy wasn’t even smart enough to say, “no comment.”===
Did you watch the video? He did say that.
- Will County Woman - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:07 am:
NT, I agree. The Fox News investigative team is certainly a lot better than the ABC-7 I team. I gather that the former actually checks facts, crosses t’s and dots i’s before running with (grossly exaggerated) stories given them by political campaigns—four days before a primary election in which the stakes are high and the candidates are virttually tied. :)
Collins is a joke. You need to staff up during a “stalemate?” Consult your dictionary, White Knight.
What hypocrisy. Colllins and crew prosecuted folks for doing political work on state time. Yet now it’s a problem to go off the payroll?
He doesn’t understand business, either. It’s standard practice today to have contract workers so you can staff up during busy times and cut them loose when it’s slow.
Who appointed this guy the Conscience of the State, anyway?
- Former Card Carrying Repub - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:08 am:
Wow. Picking on staffers? There are WAY more state employees who are using the union to get paid WAY more than they should. Ever look at some of these IT guys ISA 1,2, and 3? Working overtime? Making over 100k? Because the state mismanages their employees time?
I agree with the comments about the staffers working long hours. They are underpaid.
It might have helped their claim to be “fair and balanced,” if Dean had mentioned at the top and at the bottom of the piece that it was to be a 2 part series; instead it looks like only the Dems do this when the fact is that both parties do this.
Let’s keep in mind the majority of Madigan staffers are in their 20s and 30s making less than 50K a year but working close to 80 hours a week. Whether or not you think it is ok for them to jump on and off State payroll, how can you think that story is OK? Politicians should expect stories about their private lives and I don’t feel sorry for them when cameras follow them. But State workers should not have to be subjected to harrassment from reporters when they are on private time. So these kids do political work when they’re not on State time. Isn’t that their right? I doubt they’re forced to jump on and off state payroll. they have a 1st Amd right to associate with the party and do political work.
I’m not a fan of Decremer - he kills all of my bills in committees - but I do think this is ridiculous.
I think the real point is being missed here. I too have no love for Fox. The Chicago affiliate has become a minature Fox and Friends. However, in my agency many facilities have barely enough staff to keep the facilities open. I manage three facilities with less than half the maintenance staff I had eight years ago. We are unable to provide the basic upkeep to keep our facilities in a good state of repair. We are consistently told that headcount cannot be increased, do with what you have. And yet here in this one instance are 34 people that are not needed on a full time basis and yet they are full time headcount. Those 34 headcount would make a dramatic change in what my agency could do in half the state. And to top it all we hear from the GA that more cuts are needed. This is the perfect example of why we are in the position we are fiscally. As long as no one disrupts their fifedoms the members of the GA are content to see all other agencies, and the people they provide services for, suffer. This is the attitude we have to eliminate, some how.
I wonder if this story was researched correctly. Were there 34 employees at one time doing political work on the side, or are we talking 34 over the 3 year period of 2008-2010? There’s a big difference.
It is hard to comment on the HGOP side without seeing the story, but if they only have 13 staffer that work on campaigns they are in more trouble than I thought. Either they keep these people on state payroll while they’re doing political work or they don’t have anyone in the field staffing the campaigns.
The Speaker is way too smart to do anything illegal (especially since he’s had an awful lot to do with lawmaking in this state over the last 40 years), but this is a story that absolutely should have been aired. The bottom line is, in this day and age of our deadbeat state’s mounting debt to schools and service providers, the taxpayers have every right to know that our Four Tops run staffers on and off of the state payroll to work campaigns. I suspect those who are offended by this story or don’t see a reason for it to air have a dog in the fight.
- Middle of the Road - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:20 am:
I lean toward Republicans, but that report is a hatchet job on the Dems. Few outside of the Capital City understand how hard legislative staffers on both sides of the aisle.
I can’t wait to see what they come up with about the Republicans. I would guess that Mr. Cross is going to have some ’splaining to do.
It is about how some people believe politics is evil and that it has no place in daily government. This is about a belief that we can have good government if we remove politics from government. This is about a dream that we can have non-partisan bureaucrats making decisions with only our best interests at heart.
These ideas are worth discussing because no matter how many years go by, America is always coughing up these same complaints. Washington railed against political parties, the Pendleton Act wanted to create a non-partisan government. Illinois had laws passed because of Rutan. This is an on-going debate that takes partisan spin and gets very loud when voters get angry. It is an argument offered by those who wish to appear fair, yet blame and fingerpoint at the same time.
The idea that we can have a non-partisan bureaucracy and administration is downright stupid. History demonstrates repeatedly the opposite.
Did you like Dick Cheney? He didn’t care what polls said. He didn’t care what the politics of an issue was. He always decided and led based on his gut beliefs - damn the consequences. He tried to do what was best. He has an impeccable resume. He is an expert. Did you like that approach?
Obama tries this too but uses another language. He is always claims to seek “bipartisanship”. He always presents himself as above politics. Look at the list of presidents and you will find lots of examples of this way of talking.
Well, it is a bunch of hooey. You cannot have a democracy without politics. Governments without politics is called dictatorships.
What we are reading is how this discussion arises when governments get into trouble. It is as nonsensical as the “new” arguments being made that the government is ungovernable in 2010. A look at history indicates that these arguments are generated by spin doctors and newspapers trying to defend their little favorite political arguments during tough economic times where voters are angry and want to throw out incumbants.
It is a bunch of bull.
- Still Gettin Twisted - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:26 am:
Irish has it right..Tough times call for tough measures.. Contract employees should be treated like contract employees in the business world. No full time, no benefits. How many employers will allow a worker to take a 4 month leave with benefits? Maybe I’m living in a different world, but in Corporate America not many 20 and 30 year olds are making $100,000 per year. It’s time to get serious about getting our state out of this horrible financial mess.
“And Decremer, he’s a research analyst for the state earning $40,000 when he’s working in Springfield. But Decremer took off seven months in 2007, four months in 2008 and another four months in 2009. He has made more than $40,000 from political campaigns.”
allow me to summarize some of the justifications, so far
it’s not illegal
he works lots of overtime
it’s not a lot of money
feast/famine is the way of the legislative aid
the reporter/his network’s motivations are suspect
With specific regards to the ballot-challenge process, there have been documented incidents where Democratic staffers currently on the payroll (no leave) have spent their days at the State Board of Elections going line by line to knock primary challengers, independents, Greens, and Repbulicans off the ballot.
Illinois has way more than a 90% incumbency rate. It’s a lot more than incumbents out-fundraising and out-campaigning their challengers. Being able to essentially have full-time campaign staff whenever you need it is huge. Otherwise building a campaign team requires paying someone enough for them to leave their current job or having them staff your campaign part-time. FOX should also talk about how many of them send out de facto campaign literature using the Legislative Printing Office.
And for those arguing that these people could make more in the private sector, I would ask: doing what? Have you tried getting a job in the private sector lately? I know half a dozen unemployed or underemployed lawyers (ie not working as lawyers). Find me a private sector job with as much job security as being a loyal Madigan staffer.
if you go to work for a powerful guy like Mike Madigan, you definitely get certain privileges - networked, meet all the right people, etc. You also should know that there is some risk that some of his powerful actions - some (e.g., timewasting petition challenges) taken against fellow democrats - won’t look good and that if you choose to be involved, you too might be personally scrutinized.
One of the bigger quibbles I have with the story is the claim that the term “Madigoons” is used with “respect.”
Um, no. It’s an epithet. Always has been. I think the first time I heard it was during rep. Maureen Murphy’s 1994 or 1996 campaign. The Republican incumbent didn’t use it as a term of endearment by any means.
Also, BTW, they call themselves “minions.”
- Bring Back Boone's - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:44 am:
Wow for once I actually agree with VanillaMan. Extremely well put.
As partisan a Republican as I am, even I have to say this is a complete BS story. This kid is not doing anything wrong and the story is character assasination on him and the other staffers who are trying to do the right thing and go off payroll during a campaign. If this is the “hard-hitting” expose’s that FOX prides itself on…what a joke they are.
At some point, doesn’t this become a perpetual motion maching funded by the taxpayers? Leave aside the issue if, occasionally, tax dollars are used to subsidize an employee whose government work and political work overlap for a period of time. What about the fact that the petition challenges filed by Madigan’s staff — many of which are filed in bad faith solely to harass candidates without a realistic prospect of actually disqualifying them from the ballot — end up burning up the time, budget and resources of not only the challengers, but of the State Board of Elections, the county clerks and the election commissioners. If the case is appealed, then court resources are expended too.
There really needs to be a mechanism to impose penalties if a petition challenge is not reasonably well founded as opposed to simple harassment.
One might say that when comparing abuses by Madigan and Cross, Madigan’s abuse is more efficient. At least when his employees leave to work on campaigns, they have wins to show for it. lol
But seriously, Placko should follow up to confirm whether staff really cut ALL state paid strings when they go over to the political side. Are they really not still getting medical coverage for example?
- Will County Woman - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 11:03 am:
You people claiming to be republican are exactly why I wish there was a viable and good alternative to Brady and Quinn in the form of someone like Paul Vallas. Based on the comments here so far, the IL GOP is really no better than the il/chicago dems, and certainly not much brighter. I cannot believe that y’all are claiming the story has no merits. you’ve got to be kidding!
God help this state…ship of fools or something like that.
Last Oct., I filed petitions to run for state rep., as a Republican. About an hour later, Kevin Artl, an aide to State Rep. Cross, copied my petitions. He did campaign work while he should have been working for the state government. I read that is illegal.
As a former minion myself many years ago, as well as the current legislative staff, I was overworked and way underpaid which made it one of the many reasons I left that job after nearly 7 years of being on legislative/political staff. As this Fox report surfaces I look back at those years and realize:
a) This practice has been going on in the General Assembly for decades
b) There is more political posturing and make believe work legislative activity in the General Assembly than real work for the people of Illinois
c) Most (thank God not all) GA members spend more time into figuring how to move up the political chain while others figure the best way to become a fixture in the general assembly thus securing a nice retirement to later complement their tax funded retirement with a lobbying job.
d) A few members have no idea what they are either voting for and/or what bills to introduce, unless a legislative staffer explains to them what to vote for, gives them a bill idea, craft the bill, gets co-sponsors on the bill, gets a Senate/House Sponsor and finally keep an eye on the bill to become law.
And those are few of the reasons we are in the budget whole us and our children will have to pay for one way or another.
State employees should not be allowed to take leaves of absence to do campaign work. If you were a truck driver for IDOT and told your boss I want to take the summer off to work on the Brady Campaign, he would tell you not to bother coming back. (definite double standard for different employees)
The second issue is Madigan. Especially those in the legislative staff office know the power of Magain. He runs the state period. If you cross him, R or a D, you will be challenged by a better funded opponent in your next election.
The problem is many of the legislators are on the payroll of businesses, unions, ect. Tough to tell a staffer making 40k a year not to have a side job when the boss making 70+ does.
I would like to see a list of all of the state legislators with their none governement jobs/pay scale. I think people would freak if they knew who was paying some of our legislators.
It’s interesting to read the ‘insider’ view on the comments.
I think if you went up to 20 people on the street and said “There are people who work for the state who take leaves of absence to work on campaigns, directed by the same folks who are their bosses on their state jobs and then return to their state jobs”
And asked them if they think this is good, I think you might get 1 yes.
Yes, I am sure they all work hard and are good people but that isn’t the issue. Sorry, it isn’t.
Dane excuse for not doing a balanced story was that it had become “unwieldly’…..what total nonsense….tonight they will mention the GOPs….BTW benefits are not paid by the state when workers go on a leave
“I am sure they all work hard and are good people but that isn’t the issue.”
As far as the public is concerned, that’s quite true. Lots of people seem to assume that legislators and their staffs work ONLY on session days and do nothing the rest of the year. That’s as absurd as assuming, for instance, that an attorney works only when he or she is in court arguing a case, and that all the time the attorney spends consulting with the client, researching past cases, etc. doesn’t count.
Work that goes on behind the scenes or in preparation for the “public” part of one’s job is still work.
Good. Finally some attention to the sleazy culture of Illinois politics that needs to end now.
First, Illinois shouldn’t even have a private petition challenge cottage industry to begin with. Reform the entire incumbent protection petitioning system that has been ruled illegal and unconstitutional by the courts already. These petition challengers taking time off from state work (which they cry is under-funded and under-staffed) prove that legislative staffs are bloated and are wasting our money and have been for years. And these staffers getting scrutiny serves them right. They should think twice before acting like a bunch Revolutionary Guard Iranian hard-liner trying to keep competition off the ballots. Its easier to get on the ballot in Iran than it is in Illinois, especially as an independent. All you have to do in Iran is lie and get fewer signatures with less scrutiny than in Illinois. How sad is that? Madigoons sounds right to me, if not a little timid.
Not a single independent candidate has been able to get through the Madigoons and onto the ballot in 30 years in Illinois.
And yes, they will find Republicans do this just as much as Democrats. George Ryan used dozens of SoS employees in 1998 to kick the Libertarians off the ballot. Jim Ryan had help from DNR staffers in 2002 trying to kick Skinner of the ballot. Judy Baar Topinka had half of her Chicago Treasurer staff working to kick Skinner off the ballot also. You rarely ever find a Democrat or Republican volunteering to kick people off of ballots, they are all government employees.
The petition challenge process is a cottage industry for Mike Kasper and his minions and it does nothing to make Illinois more democratic or to protect our ballots from clutter and confusion. The petition challenge process is a sleazy political game that should be ended if we ever want this state cleaned up. And shame on those people who participate in such an anti-American, anti-democratic practice. They deserve being called goons. R and D alike.
Americans are better than that. Our children deserve a better democracy than that.
The story is nothing new to politically astute persons, but to many members of the general public who are unfamiliar with the process of objecting to nominating petitions, which probably represents ninety percent of all registered voters, it is valuable.
Twenty-five years ago, the electoral board call lists were considerably shorter. Sometime after 1984, things began to spiral out of control. Now, opposition candidates can expect to be challenged even if their petition signatures are good simply for the sake of exercise. Just the perception that an objection is pending is enough to cripple a challenger candidate’s fundraising abilities and the most politicized electoral boards oftentimes seem to do their best to drag things out.
There is a purpose for petition challenges, but probably three cases out of every ten are legitimate. Many more are designed solely to harass challengers and to waste their time and money. Defending a petition is a costly endeavor.
=== there isn’t a finite number of people in this state who can do that work. Its not like they are the only ones who are capable. ===
Actually, there is a finite number of people who are willing to do these jobs. It is not a cush or glamorous job, and frankly, not everyone could handle the chaos of the legislature. It is essentially a 24/7 job 8 months a year.
You can tell all of the people here are government types. How hard is it for a challenger to find someone who has experience running campaigns? Or to find people at that level with experience checking petitions?
If the Democrat or GOP party need that type of expertise then pay for it! It is not up to the state to act as a temp hiring hall. State rep races are the easiest races to win with MONEY and experienced staff. How much does an average challenger raise? $30,000 maybe $50,000 only the big ones raise more, how much of a head start do the speakers candidates have when he can just get his staffers off the bench and the challenger has to find someone who can run a campaign?
And get off this they don’t make allot of money stuff we all know staffers who move on after they do well in a campaign and run a bigger one or go into business for themselves. This is the advantage of incumbency, it tilts the playing field to the four tops. How much does the Democrat party raise a year? Millions. How mush do the four tops raise and peel off to the races they care about? Millions why should the people of Illinois pay to keep people on the payroll that are there for campaigns? Weather they stop working for the state and then come back on we are still suplementing their income so they can work on the next campaign. Both the GOP and Democrats do this and it is wrong!
If these people had to work on just campaigns they would be looking for work now and most wouldn’t be able to make it to the next campaign, they would have to get another job, has anyone seen the unemployment rate? And what are the chances they will be able to start a company to run campaigns? Very few!
I agree with the sentiment from OneMan. It’s this almost seamless, revolving transition between state work and political work that gives many in the public a bad feeling. It may be entirely legal, but it feels wrong.
Honest Abe: Politically astute or politically inured? Although this on and off the books behavior is legal, it would be more meaningful if the other side of these transactions reported receipt of these benefits as thoroughly as the Speaker reports the expenditure. It’s this kind of cloaked staffing that advantages incumbents who, for the most part, never report it.
So the bottom line is that multiple political “minions” of both political parties are given State legislative jobs funded and paid for by taxpayers to work “in between” campaigns where they are paid out of various campaign funds, to guarantee that they will be around and available to work on future campaigns. They get to take what appears to be unlimited leave of absence for that purpose from their taxpayer funded jobs. They are not “temps” but full time/part time now you see them now you don’t employees of the State who get benefits when they are around and actually on the clock.
And this practice benefits the taxpayers and not the political parties and leadership that engages in these practices, right? Right? If these guys were so valuable to campaigns and political parties and candidates, they would be kept as full time political workers being paid by campaigns, political parties, etc. and not draw taxpayer funded salaries in between their campaign work.
Fox News Chicago exposed this practice. That makes Fox News bad. The average person on the street would use a four letter word (or two or three of them strung together) to describe this practice. Shoot the messenger or get angry at the practices the messenger exposed?
The consensus here is to shoot the messenger.
And if this cost the tax payers $780,000 odd dollars, so what? Think of how many children could have been innoculated for swine flu for that type of money.
Yup. There is absolutely no waste in State Government. None whatsoever. Can’t cut a thing! Can’t lay anyone off, even full time/part time/now you see them/now you don’t employees who also get paid to run or work on campaigns off the clock. It would be impossible to cut these jobs out of the picture because they are so absolutely “necessary” to the process. (Sarcasm fully intended)
I vote for more exposure of these types of practices. If it looks like nothing is wrong, then the practices so exposed will survive scrutiny.
And if it looks like what was exposed by Fox News in part one of their two parter, then the practices so exposed should not survive scrutiny.
If the staffer was working on a campaign and got sick could they quit and go back on the states payroll and use their insurence? When they win a campaign in the primary does the candidate have to pay them all the way until the campaign begins in earnest after Labor day? Or do they just come back off the staff when needed? If so how fair is that to the challenger? And really what is the difference between working for the state or for the leaders candidate?
I can easily see both sides here, but arguments like this don’t totally hold up…
===If these guys were so valuable to campaigns and political parties and candidates, they would be kept as full time political workers being paid by campaigns, political parties, etc. and not draw taxpayer funded salaries in between their campaign work.===
OK, but that would mean even more campaign fundraising, and more tax dollars for FT, year-round state workers.
There really is a finite number of people who can do it. Handling members is a nightmare, the hours are ridiculous, the pay crappy, and the stress infinite. Finding people who can do that, AND who have some semblance of political acumen is rather difficult.
Two, let’s take the year the staffer was off payroll for four months. Some might say he was only an eight-month state employee. I would posit that if you took the time to add up his hours while he was on payroll (which, of course, a TV reporter would never do), then I believe you’d find he did nearly a year of work in only eight months. In that case, the state gets a full-time equivalent while only paying two-thirds of a yearly salary and benefits.
Third, no benefits while off the state payroll. The party generally will cover insurance, but that’s it, so there’s no financial negative to the state on benefits.
Fourth, what staffers do during session is absolutely necessary. Show me the staffer who’s not putting in 12-15 hours a day (and freaking out about it) and I’ll show you a staffer headed for the exit in short order.
The state workers in this story are legally designated as political partisan jobs, and are in no way protected by Rutan (497 U.S. 62, 1990).
Why did no one scream bloody murder when Tammy Duckworth received her job at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs when it was obvious she received a big resume booster by running in a (gasp) political campaign. The job she was appointed to was also a non-rutan protected job, thus no scandal.
Every party has every right to hire who they want for their partisan staffs.
If these were Rutan protected jobs, I would absolutely see the point.
And no, I do not work for the state, and never have.
Second, why are they ridiculing the employees? They should be putting Madigan, Cullerton, Cross and Radogno on the hotseat, not these individuals.
the difference is a legislative staff member’s job requires them to spend much more time busting their brains than their backs. an IDOT employee has an actual, physical, tangible road to work on. legislative/campaign staff works on turning ideas into laws and regular joes into politicians. both require exhaustive work, you just can’t make a fair comparison between the two for this situation. and by the way, i can’t believe he is “exposing” people for making 40k a year. haha. what a crime. he likes to serve the state when he can and then has a political committee pay him when he’s not on state time. he is following the ethics rules exactly as they are supposed to be followed.
====The State doesn’t pay benefits when a staffer takes a leave of absence. They don’t continue to earn vacation or sick time. They don’t continue to earn pension credit. They have to pay their own health insurance (sometimes near $1,000 a month).
In fact, that’s why you see so many payments to CMS by Political Committees. If you look through the IDP’s filings there are 1 1/2 pages during one six month cycle where the IDP is making payments to CMS for health care coverage and possibly other benefits.
Tell me about the workload in the pointless Blagojevich Special Sessions. It was not a time of frenzied activity — more a matter of study and contemplation leading to the more regular Veto Sessions. Downsizing the State-paid staff at that time was very reasonable. How those staff spent their off-duty time was their choice,not a mandate.
====I can easily see both sides here, but arguments like this don’t totally hold up…
===If these guys were so valuable to campaigns and political parties and candidates, they would be kept as full time political workers being paid by campaigns, political parties, etc. and not draw taxpayer funded salaries in between their campaign work.===
OK, but that would mean even more campaign fundraising, and more tax dollars for FT, year-round state workers.====
Yes it would. If they are so valuable as “minions” then the political party would raise the funds and keep them on one of their full time political payrolls, with benefits, and keep them off taxpayer salaried positions, where they are sorta temps, sorta not, whatever . . .
Then they would be off the payroll of the State and on the payroll of a political organization which would then be required to raise sufficient funds to pay for them.
That’s my point which may not have been too clear the first go-around.
To clarify, and hopeful Steve Brown can extend what I’m saying, on leave people have to pay their own insurance premiums:
Employees who are away from work for reasons
such as approved medical or personal leave of
absence are eligible to continue insurance
coverage in the State of Illinois Group Insurance
Program (Program) for a specified period of time,
subject to premium payment.
While an Employee is on a leave of absence, and/
or off payroll on the first work day of a pay period,
premiums are directly billed by the Department of
Central Management Services (Department) and
not deducted through payroll. Refer to the
Premium Payment section in this chapter for
information regarding premium payments
I am having a hard time grasping an underlying current here. First of all I want to preface my comment with the statement that I have nothing against the “minions” My issue is with those that have set up this “special” situation.
I am reading the many comments about how can anyone begrudge these folks these positions when they are working hard and only making $40,000.00/yr. Do you realize that there are a lot of other State Employees out there who are also not making any more than $40,000.00/yr? Yet I wonder if the thread was different and we were talking about pensions and benefits for regular state employees being reduced how many would be jumping on the side of those state employees and commenting how they are only making $40,000.00/yr. and we should give them a break.
Also, I as a manager CANNOT hire an employee contractually or as a temp worker for more than 6 months in a year. Even if I can prove that I need that individual it cannot be done.
So this boils down to a very sweet situation for the Four Tops and any other legislator that participates in this system. They get employees who are experienced, they get the same employees year after year, they can be used “at will”, simply going off the payroll and having their benefits and salary picked up by an outside entity until they are no longer needed by that entity, then being brought back into the State fold. And I am sorry heet101 but we are not talking about apples and oranges we are talking about state employees. This WOULD be the same as if a worker at IDOT worked for IDOT for four months and then went to work for a trucking firm and the trucking firm paid into his pension and benefits until they no longer needed him and then he goes back to IDOT. I am willing to bet that if a bill was placed before the GA asking if that IDOT worker could be allowed to do that it would fail miserably. Why? Because the GA members know that the situation is wrong and the taxpayers would never allow it.
“Under your logic, if I am lazy and I round table these signatures, I should be allowed on the ballot…..”
Under my logic, Illinois would be like the other 48 states and the rest of the democratic world that do NOT have a private partisan petition challenge process and we would require an equal number of signatures for all candidates with that number not being overly large. There is no logic to defend our current system when we have better examples from just about everywhere in the democratic world.
Under your logic, we’ve kept independent candidates off the ballot for 30 years, while under my logic, the rest of this country without a petition challenge system like ours does NOT have problems with idiots on ballots. When the rest of the world has figured out how to hold elections without this insane private petition challenge process we have in Illinois, is does say our process is a sleazy game. A sleazy game that the rest of the democratic world without petition challenges shows us is not necessary.
Louis G. Atsaves - You hit the bigger picture dead on. It certainly smells bad doesn’t it. Both parties are doing it and that is why they aren’t doing anything to stop it. The two wrongs excuse for this stupidity isn’t going to fly with the public forever.
Would all of those slots be filled by the state if some times they can take 4 or 5 months off? Tax money is forced but political funds are raised and given by people who choose to give to that party. I think most people wouldn’t care about having to raise more political cash over using tax dollars to have a political bench.
None of the reported issues are illegal.Perhaps they don’t serve the public and serve a political party[both are involved],but it’s not against the law.Until there’s a commitment to serve the public in Illinois instead of a party,such legal practices will accepted.Utopian wish.
I can see the point, but the clear implication, for me, of that story, is to at least hint that all these employees are ghost payrollers. They’re not really doing anything, or much of anything, while they work for the state. They’re just cooling their heels and collecting state cash and benefits until the time comes to put them out in the field again. That’s what FOX seems to be insinuating.
The problem is FOX doesn’t produce any actual shred of evidence to prove there is a single ghost payrollee on Madigan’s staff, or that anyone on staff isn’t working hard, and for the public, while they’re collecting a government check, or that Springfield would run smoothly if loads of them were laid off.
But of course public opinion being what it is, FOX just needs to set out the lure, the insinuation, and lots of folks will happily jump on the bandwagon. Polls regularly find that the public is adverse to the idea of staff in general: a lot of people think the legislator should just somehow go up to the capitol and vote, and answer all the phones, and write all the letters, and somehow become informed about and write all the legislation simultaneously. But just because the cynical public thinks it, doesn’t make it true. And until someone shows me actual evidence that the minions aren’t working hard while they’re on the government payroll (and I’ve known quite a few of them - I don’t know if they’re -under-worked, Rich, but they’re not kicking back their heels), then I fail to see the problem here.
Dane can make his point-but the gotcha journalism style of stalking shaw is a way over the top. Maybe rachel maddow should hunt down dane and make him explain the issues she has with fox national? If dane really wants answers-take it up with the speaker–not staff.
=The petition challenge process is a sleazy political game that should be ended if we ever want this state cleaned up.=
So TaxMeMore, your saying that anyone who files petitons should be allowed on the ballot? I challlenged a candidate this past fall based soley on the fact that 2 years ago that same candidate filed 18,000 signatures and the Board of Elections determined that 16,000 of them were fraudulent.
“So TaxMeMore, your saying that anyone who files petitons should be allowed on the ballot?”
That isn’t what I’m saying. The rest of the democratic world has figured out how to check petition signatures, or count money, without a sleazy private petition challenge process that creates the problem of round tabling or fraud in the first place. There is sleaze all over the process as your example shows perfectly well. Marsallis Brown ran for Governor with one signature as I recall, so its not like this system even achieves what you say it does. When signatures are automatically checked no matter what, like the rest of the world does, round tabling is not even considered as a way to cheat. Pick any state except New York and tell me why their system for checking signatures or counting money for ballot access is worse than Illinois’.
- Pot calling kettle - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 3:08 pm:
If anything, this saves the state some money. We need more staffers during session and fewer during campaign season. Instead of keeping those staffers on the payroll in the Fall, or laying them off (and potentially losing them), they move into seasonal campaign work. The other potential benefit is that these staffers, who typically write legislation at the behest of elected office holders, have a much better idea of what is actually expected after spending time in the hinterlands working on campaigns.
I do have a problem with political hires who don’t do the work of the office to which they have been appointed. For example, a campaign worker who is given an office job in DNR (or some other agency) so they will be around in three years to help with the next run for governor. These people are a burden if they are not doing the work of the agency in those interim 3 years.
It is possible to take issue with this practice and at the same time take issue with the reporting in this instance. Stalking down Shaw and showing a goofy picture of Chusid made them, the young staffers, the face of the story. They didn’t create this practice. Heck, they weren’t even born when it began.
Don’t like how MJM runs his office(s), Fox? Fine. Report on that and make HIM the story. Stalk him down on camera. This is an example of Fox going after the low-hanging fruit. Frankly it is lazy and irresponsible.
“Validation Procedures and the Burden of Ballot Access Regulations”
“Courts should ensure that states do not unduly burden minor-party and independent candidates by coupling seemingly reasonable ballot access laws
with a strict validation process. When candidates litigate the constitutionality of ballot access laws, they should consider directly assailing the legality of validation procedures. Systems that encourage private challenges to candidate filings are particularly problematic because they allow partisan actors to target disfavored adversaries without appreciably advancing the state’s legitimate interest in regulating the electoral process.”
To be precise, I am not opposed to petition objections per se. Sometimes, objections are completely valid as a method to prevent fraud or forgeries, but when a candidate files thousands of presumptively valid signatures why permit frivolous objections to proceed without a random sampling of the petitions rather than a full blown examination?
ne of my real concerns is that Madigan has been raising the bar on candidate filing minimums: it used to be that a representative candidate needed only 300 signatures and a state senate candidate needed 600
signatures for established parties; now it is a minimum of 600 for representative and 1,000 for a senator; in Cook County, judicial candidates need to file close to 7,500 signatures to avoid being challenged while elsewhere 500 valid signatures is the minimum.
With growing apathy, which the Machine endorses and supports, it is more difficult to collect sufficient valid signatures from voters than it is to collect the raw number of signatures. Thousands of eligible persons are simply no longer registering to vote.
This is another good excerpt from that article. Judge Posner admits that not all signatures thrown out using Illinois’ private challenge system are fraudulent.
As Judge Posner acknowledged, strict enforcement of Illinois’s address requirement is likely to invalidate legitimate signatures as well as fraudulent ones, “since a discrepancy . . . is likely to be pretty common even without fraud.”
Its funny to read all your comments!!! One bad story about Madigan and you all go banana’s. I heard that tonight Fox is going to expose the republicans. I will pop some popcorn and clean my glasses because tomorrow comments will be even funnier.
== This is an example of Fox going after the low-hanging fruit. ==
Ouch! Decremer isn’t exactly low hanging fruit.
- Too Silly for ME - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 4:59 pm:
Now that Duckworth has said NO to Quinn and MJM wanting to get rid of this office in January, 2015, who is going to jump up and say I want this office that will probably disappear in January, 2015? I understand Mayor Daley is saying the Lt. Governor office is needed so why don’t LM roll over into the Lt. Governor office for January, 2011 and that way roll into the Governor Office when MJM feel like bouncing Quinn out of the way!
It is a badge of honor to be cited as a “Minion”, or a “Madigoon” if that badge fits my work and association with the only person who has for many years provided strong, reputable political Leadership in Illinois.
Robert Yablon wrote an article for the Yale Law Journal titled “Validation Procedures and the Burden of Ballot Access Regulations” that has some great points about Illinois’ petition challenge process. (Google it if you want evidence supporting my opinion) Yablon is a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and previously clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Our current private petition challenge system is not something Yablon seems to endorse, and he seems to think it might even be unconstitutional.
Placko demands an ethical government and puts out shady smut pieces like this? Paparazzi photographers have better ethics than this.
Shaw may not be just any staffer, but he’s not the head of any department. He’s not a policy maker. He’s not elected. He’s not related to a lawmaker. Since when are $40K per year routine staffers fair game? Then again, I question whether Placko could handle taking on somebody in a position of authority after watching this. It’s always easier when you know they have to say “no comment”, isn’t it?
And, what’s with the $278,000 over THREE years figure? Placko specifies 34 House Democratic Staff state employees who took varying leaves of absence that claimed part of this amount. Umm… Maybe because that only averages out to a mere $2725.49 per staffer per year? This doesn’t even get into the fact that most of FOX’s viewers won’t understand there is a difference between political and taxpayers’ monies from the way this “report” was done. A little over a quarter million sure sounds like a lot, and to the average uninformed viewer (and even more uninformed thanks to garbage like this), it’s an outrage.
Placko, if you want to attack MJM’s policies, fine. If you want to attack MJM personally, fine. But, don’t attack the people that have no power or authority to fire back and call you out for being the coward you are.
Maybe you can go after the unpaid intern pages on the House floor next time - you know, for the amount of tip money they make as a whole over three years. They might prove to be even easier targets.
Jeez, how hard can these people be working while employed by the State? The GA sessions are a joke, and the leaders decide what will be right at the end….what ever happened to ‘fumigation’, ‘reform’, and all the other things that were so hotly debated last year. Squat. MJM, with some input (I assume) from Cullerton decided exactly what would be for this year. How much staff work did it take to give the governor 2 BB of discretionary spending to keep his little mind busy? It’s not like any real problems even got addressed. I’m sure that most of these staffers could be very efficient and helpful in a functional government. But all these ‘long hour, low pay’ claims just don’t compute right now.
Park, how does 10-14 hour days, several weekends a year, and a few holidays sound to you for a work schedule? Oh, and you do NOT get overtime pay. You’d last all of about a week in a legislative staffer’s shoes. These people work very hard for not much money.
Sure, but doing what? What’s happened over the last year? What in God’s name were they doing 10-14 hours per day? No effective budget, no major revenue initiatives, all the talking points from the last two sessions gone by the wayside.
Not dissing their work ethic, but this is a poor time to argue staff productivity.
Come now, we know from watching Speaker Madigan’s videotaped comments that none of the desired reforms passed in the General Assembly solely due to the Republican minority obstructing every bill and refusing to cooperate with the Democratic supermajority.
You’ve apparently never heard that the legislature holds committee hearings. And, despite your view of progress, they are doing what the boss tells them to do which is why they were hired. I don’t know of too many jobs where you can openly question the boss and still have a job. This is far from busy work as you’re characterizing it. Legislative staff should have titles like “whipping boy” and “cat herder”.
An effective staff is not responsible for the decisions of their bosses. They’re responsible for carrying out orders, and they’ve done that time and again.
Honest Abe, the House doesn’t have a super-majority, so sorry if that debunks your theory. And last I checked, the GOP voted handily for 3 of the last 5 budgets when their input was required during overtime session. Please enlighten us all how those budgets were fiscally responsible or had no bearing on the current financial woes facing the state.
- I'm With "No Comment" - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:07 pm:
I completely agree with everything No Comment wrote. The fact that Placko went after a bunch of staffers is ridiculous.
I just watched tonight’s story, which was apparently going to be about the House Republican staff’s practice, but it was just another hatchet job. Here’s what I don’t understand — last night Placko called out 5 or 6 democratic staffers by name with photos, yet tonight he talked about several “unidentified staffers.” No names. No photos. And in the midst of it all, he goes back to a democrat and shows a photo of Tom Wogan.
I am all for educating the public on practices, but the fact that Placko has insinuated that several of the democratic staffers did something wrong, but attempts to shield the republican staffers is ABSOLUTELY WRONG.
So much for fair and balanced.
- I'm With "No Comment" - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:09 pm:
I meant to write that tonight he talked about several “unidentified House Republican staffers”
I know about 25 former campaign staffers looking for work RIGHT NOW! They would kill for a garunteed 40k and benies plus a 10 to 12 G bonus a year for working campaigns, Please! $40,00 in Springfield is different than $40,000 in Chicago and they would take it in the city now with the economy the way it is. The bonus I mentioned is they said he made $40,000 more in three years?
I been there in august and when the assembly is out, 10 to 14 hour days for a few months and times when there is zero to do.
I know it is all of the leaders doing this BUT all of the leaders are not the head of their parties! Madigan is.
He is so powerfull he refuses to talk? What the hell is that? Steve brown pretends this is on the up and up when we know in no other job would they allow you to jump back and fourth to do differnent jobs and still be vested in your insurance. How much is that worth a year? This is not the worst that happens but it is not fair and one of the reasons the reelection rate is so high. What candidate could pay the bill for someone to just check petitions? Who would want someone on the payroll who does just that?
This should be stopped and you would see a huge turnover rate in the GA. half the people can’t name the Vice President of the United States how many know their State Rep? Less than half of that i would wager. So it is easier to have a huge impact in State rep races with Cash and experience. The funny thing is that it is the General Assembly that controlls the purse strings spends the money and has put this state into the dumper and still King madigan won’t talk to reporters. Unbelievable
- Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:24 pm:
Much ado about nothing. Many a minion (and their) repub counterparts) have gone on to serve the State “full-time” in positions of honor or in distinguished private careers, in no small part because these folks are smart and know how to work hard.
- CircularFiringSquad - Tuesday, Feb 23, 10 @ 10:48 pm:
StatewideTom had staffers in the Outsider Andy gov debacle, Hastert’s congressional and a bunch of houses races and only 13 bodies off the state tab….guess that means the Tristano model is still is use……hmmmmm
I still feel bad for Chusid. Where did they get that picture last night?
- City Slicker - Wednesday, Feb 24, 10 @ 12:23 am:
What a BS story tonight. Yesterday they beat up the House Dems and tonight they beat up . . . the House Dems again. Instead of focusing on the House GOP they decided to show the Speaker and discuss more House Dem staffers?
Why did Fox show clips of the Senate? The story did not make reference to any issue with Senate staffers.
Also, when will Pat Collins go away? He is the media’s golden boy yet all he did was introduce some half-baked reform proposals that were opposed by the ISBA and even some judges because they were more problematic than the current system.
On the bright side, maybe this “news” story will help launch Shaw’s acting career!
Nice try at distorting the subject of my post. I was not referring to budgets. The video clips of Madigan that were posted at the Capitol Fax Blog a short while ago related to the stalled ethics bills that were under consideration during the previous session. Had the Speaker wanted the ethics legislation passed, it could have been done without a single GOP vote, but his alibi for not passing the bill was that Tom Cross stymied the effort.
That was a poor word choice. I have all the respect in the world for him (call me a partisan hack if you wish). What I meant was that Fox irresponsibly targeted him for operating within a system he had nothing to do with the creation or perpetuating of.
I wonder if Vannie is going to scold me for ending a sentence with a preposition.
This “expose” is so totally not news. The House Dem staffers work hard at both their state jobs when they are on that clock and their campaign jobs when they are on that clock. Both jobs are seasonal. There are some times of the year when one needs a lot of effort in researching and drafting legislation, and other times (during the heat of the campaigns) when actual legislation slows down.
The digging that I would like to see is how many HGOP staffers do campaign work while remaining on the state payroll. Would be good if the Trib or Sun-Times looked into that.