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Quinn’s IDOT patronage detailed

Tuesday, Apr 25, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Tribune

A new report issued Monday by a court-appointed watchdog charged with looking into patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation details how top Democrats clouted relatives and friends into positions under former Gov. Pat Quinn, even as many of those hired had little or no experience.

House Speaker Mike Madigan’s office successfully pushed a former bricklayer for a job that included “maintaining relationships” with minority road contractors, though the man eventually resigned after being arrested for allegedly “physically assaulting” a then-state lawmaker. Cicero Rep. Lisa Hernandez sent in the resume of a bank manager who was put on the state payroll to inspect roads. And a daughter of 30th Ward Chicago Ald. Ariel Reboyras ended up in another state job after complaints at a different agency.

The final findings are the result of an inquiry that began in 2014 after a federal judge assigned a lawyer to dig into hiring at the agency — an order that came just two weeks before Election Day, as Quinn went on to lose to Republican Bruce Rauner. The judge’s move followed an earlier report that year by then-state Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza, which found improper hiring began under ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich but accelerated under Quinn.

At issue were hundreds of people hired into “staff assistant” positions after administration officials bypassed strict personnel rules aimed at preventing politics from influencing state hiring. Meza stopped short of placing the blame on Quinn’s office, saying his investigation was “unable to conclude” that top officials in the administration knew of the illegal hiring. Chicago attorney Michael Shakman, who has battled patronage hiring in court for decades, said the state investigation wasn’t enough, and pushed for court oversight.

Pat Quinn loved him some patronage. Click here or the full federal report. It’s quite something

The hire process for [Candidate 6] illustrates the Governor’s Office’s role in pushing candidates at IDOT. (See infra at IX.A.23). On August 26, 2010, the Governor’s Office sent IDOT a copy of [Candidate 6]’s cover letter, resume, and CMS Application. The cover letter states that [Candidate 6] is “applying for the position of ___.” No position is stated. On the same day, internal Governor’s Office emails with Subject Line “[Candidate 6] and [Staff Asst. 47]” (Staff Assistant) state, “Just writing to check on their IDOT epar status.” The Governor’s Office emailed IDOT again on September 7, 2010 asking IDOT to call “ASAP, please. Re: [Candidate 6].” [Candidate 6] was hired at IDOT 13 days later, on September 20, 2010, as a 60- Day Emergency Hire TM II Safety Issues Analyst. (See Chronology at 8/26/10, 9/7/10, 10/1/10). The duties of that position are described as follows:

    This position is responsible for assisting the Director of the Division of Traffic Safety in the promotion of highway safety measures and programs in Illinois through the development of a highway safety advocate network. The incumbent is also accountable for the preparation of division positions on legislative issues, developing responses to legislation inquiries and conducting special studies/projects to support highway safety activities.

[Candidate 6] resume contained no experience, training, or education in traffic safety. Prior to being hired at IDOT, [Candidate 6] worked in the Governor’s Office for two years. In that capacity he performed duties, such as: submitting work repair orders, resolving billing issues, auditing travel vouchers, and working with excel spread sheets, among other duties.

* In other news

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s technology czar has contracted to spend $208,000 in tax dollars for two professional memberships even though the state is without a budget and is billions of dollars in debt, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Hardik Bhatt, the $145,000-a-year secretary of the Department of Innovation and Technology, has had a $50,000 annual membership in the Chief Information Officer Leadership Council of the Virginia-based executive-assistance organization CEB Inc. since 2015. He’s also approved a $29,000 subscription and annual renewal for his agency, known as DoIT, with CEB’s Risk Leadership Council. […]

DoIT spokeswoman Jennifer Schultz said the membership and subscription are “strategic investments” to help the state improve on an “outdated, inefficient” and unsafe system.

“These groups provide guidance and research to states and Fortune 500 companies,” Schultz said in a prepared statement. “The benefit to Illinois is to learn and implement best practices in organization design, cyber-security, IT governance and other areas to help us avoid making the same mistakes the state has made previously in IT.”


  1. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    A 47 word lead?

  2. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 11:48 am:

    $208,000 on professional memberships at a time we’re denying payment to the most destitute organizations in this state? The shame just never ends with these people. Good for Susanna Mendoza for calling this out.

  3. - Lech W - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 11:48 am:

    Boss Madigan at it again. Nothing new here, and as usual he will not face the music. It will be more fodder for Rauner and the GOP in 2018 though

  4. - Jose Abreu's last homer - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    I also noticed the Lou & Brooke wedding gift as CEO of the IL Sports Facilities Authority has come to an end.

  5. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:00 pm:

    From the report’s conclusion:

    “As detailed above in Section II, our
    investigation concluded that certain individuals within the Governor’s Office and a limited number of Elected Officials or their staff members manipulated the Rutan-exempt process to favor politically-connected candidates without regard to actual hiring need or candidates’ qualifications to perform the stated duties of the Rutan-exempt jobs into which they were hired. The manipulation was not just limited to IDOT or the Staff Assistant position.”

    This is a very detailed peek behind the curtain. “Rutan-exempt” means exempt from Rutan. Of course political considerations impacted hiring decisions. As a former Mayor of Chicago answered when asked if he was helping his political friends, “do you expect me to help my enemies?”

    Twas ever thus.

  6. - Responsa - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:00 pm:

    I seem to recall some mention of these Quinn hirings at the time of the last gubernatorial election. That did not help his re-election chances with a public which in general despises insider politics when who you know is seemingly more important than what you know.

  7. - pawn - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:00 pm:

    Gross. Pat Quinn, do not consider running for Governor or any other elected office again. Thank you.

  8. - Skeptic - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:03 pm:

    And there, Raunerbots, is why your guy won. Not the Turnaround Agenda, *this.*

  9. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    –This is a very detailed peek behind the curtain. “Rutan-exempt” means exempt from Rutan. Of course political considerations impacted hiring decisions.–

    Right, but it goes on to say those people hired into exempt positions weren’t qualified, and many ended up doing Rutan-covered job duties. And the Gov’s staff knew it was happening.

  10. - 'Told You So - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:09 pm:

    Harold Washington was right.

  11. - Mrs. Anon (FTTB) - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:09 pm:

    I have one even for amusing. Military Exempt jobs at DMA. Union positions with a qualifier. One has to be retired (from) or in the Guard to apply. Talk about an end run….

  12. - City Zen - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:11 pm:

    Signs you are unfit for office:

    1) You continue any bad practice such as patronage hiring.
    2) You do it more than the previous person.
    3) The previous person was Blagojevich.

  13. - OpenYourEyes - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:14 pm:

    This kind of political hiring has been going on for well over 20 years. It does nothing but rob tax dollars and hurts the state workforce who then have to take on additional responsibilities to cover the work of those hired that are not qualified.

    I have seen a 24 yr old college graduate made into a Warden of a prison because she was the daughter of “someone special”. This person had never even seen a prison before which must have made them qualified.

    How about a 25 yr old “superstar” being made into an agency wide Personnel Manager who had never “managed” a single person in their lives.

    I could go on and on… it is just sickening.

  14. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:15 pm:

    ===And the Gov’s staff knew it was happening.===

    Lol, it said more than they “knew it was happening.”

    This has also been true of every governor’s office in my lifetime. There is nothing wrong with patronage, for the most part. If they hire crooks, thieves, or dangerously incompetent folks, then they should be held accountable. But no one on this blog should be shocked to learn that a governor was shoe-horning folks into Rutan-exempt positions.

    The horror.

  15. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:18 pm:

    I wonder if Munger &Co.can hold a stop sign?

  16. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:28 pm:

    Meh, a lot more money in IT consulting and warehouse leases. Those are real scores.

  17. - Because I Said So.... - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:35 pm:

    Leslie Munger

  18. - blue dog dem - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    These kinds of hires are why I can’t stomach a tax increase until EVERY single, useless patronage job is eliminated. This is why I know K-12 budgets can be reduced. This is why I know LGDF can be reduced. This sort of nonsense is part of the reason we are were we are.

  19. - City Zen - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    My company also has a CEB membership. I will concur it is a great resource. Then again, my company isn’t approaching $200B in debt. Maybe I can share my login.

  20. - Daniel Plainview - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 12:59 pm:

    How much are we paying for the monitor to retread this story every time a new Rauner scandal gets some press?

  21. - Fool On The Hill - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:01 pm:

    Rauner isnt running against Pat Quinn this time as much as he would like to. So, meh, on this report. However, $200K on subscriptions, hiring Munger, millions to IT consultants when the state is bleeding to death, well those ads pretty much write themselves.

  22. - The Punisher - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:03 pm:

    Leases for buildings under suspicious conditions(Harbor Freight on Jefferson, Barneys), hundreds of thousands dollars to IT consulting firms, over and over. Follow the money, it will disclose everything. DOIT has a large budget, little to no oversight. and a number of new executives making nice paychecks that they will never have to show productivity for. My CEB membership will help me get my next position and will not have cost me a dime!

  23. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    –hundreds of thousands dollars to IT consulting firms–

    You wish hundreds of thousands. You’re missing a lot of zeroes on the right-hand side.

  24. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:23 pm:

    Bummer he’s got a cmte hearing today too. I’m sure he’ll be able to explain this and more. Maybe we can have some clients from shuttered service providers pop in and he can tell them how much his memberships are making their lives better.

  25. - Just Me - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:25 pm:

    Before we get all upset over this expenditure, let’s first ask him what new ideas these subscriptions have generated for us, and how much savings those ideas created.

  26. - Slippin' Jimmy - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:25 pm:

    As a 30 year state of Illinois employee, now retired, I am stunned, stunned I tell you that clout is employed in hiring, firing, promotions, and other personnel decisions. -S-

  27. - Gruntled University Employee - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:33 pm:

    The tech czar story made Tim Farley’s show on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. channel this morning, so we got that going for us.

  28. - Fav Hum - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:33 pm:

    One wonders what 1980 Quinn would say about Gov. Quinn…..

  29. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:38 pm:

    Whatever happened to those on the fumigation list of Blago patronage hires who somehow survived well into the Quinn administration? My recollection was that there was a bill to get rid of them at one point.

  30. - Chicagonk - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:47 pm:

    How about the guy who was hired to be the chief property acquisition officer for IDOT district 8 who had no real estate experience and moved from a job as a village clerk making $11,000 a year? Thank goodness we have such qualified people making these decisions.

  31. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    ===Thank goodness we have such qualified people making these decisions.===

    You think any Governor’s office in the past 50 years let the IDOT District 8 chief property acquisition officer make any decisions about acquiring property?


  32. - Ann - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 2:00 pm:

    I opposed creating a new $120,000 position for a connected daughter and was booted off the board I was on before I could even turn around. I voted for Quinn, but it was a mighty lukewarm vote and I’m sure not wishing for his return.

  33. - Nick Name - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 2:08 pm:

    “The tech czar story made Tim Farley’s show on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. channel this morning, so we got that going for us.”

    It also was in the NY Times and the Miami Herald. Not bad for a local AP story written by O’Connor.

    $208,000 for memberships, the sole purpose of which is to help Bhatt develop contacts for when he leaves state government. But yes let’s all have a big nutty over Mendoza’s $32,000 SUV.

  34. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 2:22 pm:

    –One wonders what 1980 Quinn would say about Gov. Quinn…..–

    Looks like everything went according to plan?

  35. - IT Guy - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 2:29 pm:

    CEB is the right resource to use when you’re standing up a brand-new IT Organization with 1700 people in it. You need to give the organization the tools they need.

  36. - NIU Grad - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 2:30 pm:

    Any response from the Quinn campaign?

    As in…any response from Pat Quinn’s home land-line phone?

  37. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    The irony is yuge on ol’ Candidate 6. No freebies. You gotta read the whole thing like I did.

    Whatever happened to that big AG investigation of “endemic hiring fraud?” If this ain’t it, I can’t imagine what it is.

  38. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 2:51 pm:

    CEB: Just $80k/yr for fully synergized holistic solutions so you can #DOYOURJOB. Please what a joke. Newsflash, the State of Illinois isn’t a Fortune 5000 company. They would kick our ‘tails’ right off the DOW.

  39. - Boone's is back - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 3:20 pm:

    Yea that IDOT clout story is really gonna help people believe that our budget can’t be cut anymore…. oy

  40. - Incredulous - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 3:48 pm:

    Just a bit confused …..So we hire a “tech czar” for $145,000 a year, so we have to spend another $200,000 to get results. I have high hopes that in two years when we get a new governor and this guy is replaced, we will be reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in saving from this great investment.

  41. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 4:45 pm:

    Hardik is about Hardik…it gives him contacts for his next gig…where he will tout accomplishments that haven’t actually been achieved…like he is doing now…like he did when at the city.

  42. - scott aster - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 5:04 pm:

    There are so many state systems that need to be upgraded and changes he doesn’t need to be going to CIO councils etc.
    Thanks to the Judge for the IDOT investigation…but this is the Chicago Way…..hello Richie etal.

  43. - City Zen - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 5:25 pm:

    ==The irony is yuge on ol’ Candidate 6. No freebies.==

    “[Candidate 6] was the former owner of Boone’s Tavern in Springfield.”

    Ironic scale implosion.

  44. - Sir Reel - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 5:39 pm:

    I feel so safe driving Illinois highways knowing the caliber of professionals hired over the years.

    Well maybe not.

  45. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 6:39 pm:

    CZ, your bonus for #6 in irony is Staff Assistant 46. Check the sponsor, “qualifications,” and what he/she learned to do on the State dime.

  46. - Moist von Lipwig - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 7:02 pm:

    The premise behind the report is that all political hiring is bad, that anyone who complains about something is speaking the truth, and a person’s worth is only what a lawyer think it to be. The report would condemn Honest Abe as unseemly.

  47. - Leave a Light on George - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 7:22 pm:

    “Whatever happened to those on the fumigation list of Blago patronage hires who somehow survived well into the Quinn administration?”

    Answer- They are in union protected positions now.

  48. - foster brooks - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 7:35 pm:

    most of these cronies are still running the show in district 2

  49. - Kurt Tate - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 9:24 pm:

    This is machine politics. Does anyone really think other governors have done it differently.

    Work in Illinois a long time and you know a lot of people. Who on earth do you think gets hired? If it isn’t their choice, it’s the head of the agency choosing.

    When we have publicly funded elections, people won’t depend on machine politics. Looking forward.

  50. - Ahoy mates - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 9:30 pm:

    I like how politically appointed Rauner-Bhatts buy memberships over $200k, spent millions with consultants and skew purchasing to contractors back in India. And what about the contract positions at DOIT…. $165 per hour with no limits?!

  51. - Norm DaPlume - Tuesday, Apr 25, 17 @ 9:52 pm:

    Achievement unlocked: Irony - God Level

    Staff Asst. 9 was clouted into a position with the office that investigates employee complaints regarding improper patronage practices.

  52. - And They All Thought They Were Sooo Smart... - Wednesday, Apr 26, 17 @ 1:36 pm:

    Quinn’ers proved themselves vastly incompetent after all.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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