* The story referenced below is here. From the ILGOP…
“There’s a reason why J.B. Pritzker is silent on his allies’ use of patronage - Pritzker has been on the receiving end of Blagojevich patronage himself. If elected, J.B. Pritzker would use state government to dole out patronage jobs to his allies and cronies of Madigan’s Chicago Machine. Illinois taxpayers can’t afford J.B. Pritzker’s tacit approval of patronage and corruption.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot
Two weeks ago, ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune published their latest installment in a bombshell report exposing the incompetence and corruption of Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios. The report said Berrios “failed” at his job and allowed political allies like Mike Madigan to profit from faulty assessments.
Now, ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune are out with yet another extensive investigation into Joe Berrios’ office. This time, it’s exposing his use of patronage, favoritism, and nepotism. From the investigation:
Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios has never made any secret of his affinity for old-school politics that put a premium on loyalty and favors.
… The monitors’ reports, reviewed by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois, reveal a persistent pattern in Berrios’ office of improper hiring and firing, arbitrary staffing decisions and resistance to change. The pace of reform has been slow and the assessor’s commitment often tepid, records and interviews show.
Berrios, who is backing J.B. Pritzker for governor, isn’t the only Pritzker supporter who has a problem with patronage. Pritzker supporters Jesse White and Mike Madigan both have been accused of a “pattern of patronage” in their offices and using state agencies to put loyal precinct captains in plum state jobs.
But why is J.B. Pritzker silent on his allies’ use of patronage?
Because he’s dabbled in their same corrupt system himself. Pritzker was on the receiving end of Blagojevich’s patronage, receiving a state appointment and attempting to get another. If elected, J.B. Pritzker would use state government to dole out patronage jobs just like his crooked allies - Blagojevich, Madigan, White, Berrios, and more.
* Kaegi campaign…
Following is a statement from Fritz Kaegi, the progressive Democrat running against embattled incumbent Assessor Joe Berrios in the March 2018 primary election, in response to the latest Chicago Tribune and ProPublica investigative report on nepotism and political patronage in the Cook County Assessor’s Office.
“Reports that Joe Berrios continues to operate in flagrant violation of the Shakman Decree confirms what many have known for years–that the current Assessor is only concerned with lining the pockets of his family and connected political allies while the taxpayers of Cook County continue to pick up the tab.
“When we began our campaign, I committed to fully implementing all Shakman requirements– and going beyond them to give the taxpayers of Cook County the confidence they deserve in a property tax assessment system that is fair, equitable and transparent for all. Cook County’s is the largest assessor’s office in the country, and needs staffers that are qualified and committed to reforming the assessment process. Cook County has the diverse talent needed to fix this problem and we are committed to building a diverse, qualified workforce that reflects our communities and protects our values. Berrios’ corruption, nepotism and patronage places an unbearable economic burden on working families already struggling under the Trump and Rauner administrations’ backward economic policies.”
*** UPDATE *** From the assessor’s office…
The writers of this Tribune story selectively omitted many key facts. These facts were given to one of the writers as part of approximately 27 emails and 11 phone calls over seven weeks.
The important information the Tribune did not present to readers includes that the court-appointed Monitor for Shakman accepting the Assessor’s Office Employment Plan four years ago (11/22/13). A new Monitor later decided to change that acceptance and start virtually from scratch.
The result was another year-and-a-half before implementation of the plan. Clearly, that lengthy delay was not due to the Assessor’s Office being “slow” to comply.
This story also states that the Assessor’s Chief of Staff was “rarely involved” in Shakman compliance efforts but it fails to note we hired a new Chief of Staff nearly three years ago. Three years. This new Chief of Staff has ordered complete compliance with Shakman.
Further, a new human resources chief was hired nearly three years ago. The current HR chief has also been aggressive and thorough with the goal of complete Skakman compliance and we are now at the point of full material compliance; only technical points remain. Most of what the Tribune wrote about is years-old.
Numerous references were made to the firing of the Director of Compliance (DOC), Deborah Ellis, but the Tribune failed to mention that the Shakman Monitor agreed to that change. It would not have happened without Shakman’s consent. A new DOC was hired nearly two years ago.
The Tribune’s choice to include none of these facts made the story extremely unbalanced and, typically, unfair to Assessor Berrios. It is also unfair to the Assessor’s Office HR Director, HR personnel and Shakman-specializing attorney who have brought us to near-completion of our goal of full Shakman compliance.
Tom Shaer, Deputy Assessor for Communications
Cook County Assessor’s Office