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Reformer criticizes Pritzker for personally funding national DCFS director search

Thursday, May 16, 2019

* Dan Petrella at the Tribune

Before he took the oath of office in January, Gov. J.B. Pritzker was paying out of his own pocket for a national search to find the next head of the long-troubled Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Pritzker’s transition team signed a $50,000 contract in early January with Massachusetts-based Koya Leadership Partners to conduct a nationwide search for a new leader for the child welfare agency, which has churned through 14 previous directors since 2003. “The governor wanted to get the search for key positions in his Cabinet underway as soon as possible so he covered the cost of the search as part of his transition,” spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said.

The move is another example of the first-term Democrat and billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune using his vast personal wealth to help fund functions of state government. Pritzker has also boosted salaries of some members of his administration with his own money. Because those payments aren’t coming from state coffers, they’re not subject to open records laws, raising potential transparency issues.

While the transition committee is not subject to the state Freedom of Information Act, the Pritzker administration provided a copy of the search contract to the Tribune. […]

“The blurring of the public and private spheres and public and private funds for government functions is problematic,” [Alisa Kaplan, policy director for Reform for Illinois, formerly the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform] said. “And the extent to which the governor — this governor — can engage in it is raising all kinds of questions policymakers will have to address at some point.”

Seems a bit harsh.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

26 Comments »
  1. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:01 pm:

    Would love to live on the planet some of these “reformers” do.


  2. - 47th Ward - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:02 pm:

    ===“The blurring of the public and private spheres and public and private funds for government functions is problematic,” [Alisa Kaplan, policy director for Reform for Illinois, formerly the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform] said. “And the extent to which the governor — this governor — can engage in it is raising all kinds of questions policymakers will have to address at some point.”===

    That is a very strange way to say “thank you.”


  3. - NIU Grad - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:03 pm:

    I do worry about this precedent. If the Governor’s office can only run most effectively when a billionaire is funding its operations, it’s a sign of systematic issues that need to be addressed. What happens if the next governor isn’t rich?


  4. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:03 pm:

    Gov. J.B. Pritzker was paying out of his own pocket for a national search to find the next head of the long-troubled Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

    I guess the governor literally and figuratively will own this decision.


  5. - Just Me 2 - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:06 pm:

    Meh, their mission is open government, so they have to call it out whenever government functions are moved outside of government.


  6. - Nova - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    So let me get this straight: They are critical of him of using his own money to find the very best person to turn around the department that has been a systemic failure at protecting our most vulnerable citizens. There are many things you can criticize the Governor for, but that should not be one of them. Weak and whiney.


  7. - TopHatMonocle - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:09 pm:

    It raises all kinds of questions for policymakers, such as, why didn’t anyone think of this before. Have rich people pay for improving government. Brilliant.

    I think they have a point when it comes to the additional private compensation, but spending personal funds on an executive search just seems generous and not problematic at all.


  8. - Juice - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:13 pm:

    I can understand the questioning and the criticism on the salary issue. But transition teams are always financed with private dollars. And quite frankly, I’d much rather see the then Governor-elect cover those expenses out of his own pocket as opposed to asking like Neil Bluhm or ComEd to do so out of the kindness of their hearts. (nothing against the individual/entity specifically. Just an example)


  9. - Honeybear - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    BPIA™ is a terrible precedent.
    My main concern which has
    really
    really
    been born out.
    The aren’t cultivating
    in house capacity or productivity.
    Loyal competent stateworker DEMS
    who survived Rauner.
    Are (from almost everyone I know of)
    Ostracized
    and seemingly not trusted at all.
    The sad thing is that they don’t
    know what they don’t know
    especially in state law or statute
    regarding hiring
    I’ve heard some awful stories
    Pritzker is paying premium
    for crap work
    that has to be redone.
    Destroying loyalty
    in the process


  10. - wordslinger - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    This doesn’t bother me. He was a private citizen still, he can spend his money however he wants.

    Private compensation for state employees on the job remains a concern, and I think that should be outlawed.

    The next private LLC funding state employees won’t be bankrolled by Smiling JB Pritzker. We won’t know who’s funding it and what they’re after.


  11. - frustrated GOP - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:20 pm:

    We have a long history of private businessmen stepping in to help when government needs help. The secret six helped fund Elliot Ness and his effort to stop Al Capone. No one knew their names for a long time. This is much more transparent. sometimes we go too far thinking all non-tax money is bad. We need to adjust to the idea that sometimes people just want to do the right thing and our system is broken.


  12. - Suzzz - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:23 pm:

    Alternative headline: Governor saves broke state $50,000 and people complain


  13. - IT guy - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:34 pm:

    How much did it cost to hire someone from Joliet? I’m not necessarily in agreement this is good practice but considering the number of directors at the agency in the last few years, the selection process could use some changes.


  14. - Another Dem Survivor - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:35 pm:

    Honeybear—your words resonate so much, and make me feel (somewhat) better to know that we aren’t alone. Thank you.


  15. - MG85 - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    Honeybear - Don’t worry, I’m hearing The Governor’s administration doing a terrible job at cultivating relationships in the legislature as well. Just as recent as last night I spoke with several lawmakers who also feel ostracized.

    So, I guess you can take solace in not being part of the only group of allies who feel cloistered.


  16. - The Captain - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:44 pm:

    RFI exists to complain. Call them up any two days in a row, each describing opposite scenarios, and they’ll give you a complaint for each that you can print in your story. You could replace them with a complaint-bot and no one would notice the difference.


  17. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    ===What happens if the next governor isn’t rich?===

    Then we’ll have the Brokest Team in America.


  18. - Honeybear - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    You aren’t alone
    At
    All
    So many have been jilted.
    Made to feel soiled
    As if all were incompetent and ewww……
    At the same time
    Preferring the Raunerite holdover.
    As if to say
    “at least they were once private sector”
    They may still have some worth in them.
    And so
    Those who oppressed
    Those who hid the damage
    Those who arrogantly blustered their way
    The Raunerite

    are the preferiti

    If you can’t be trusted
    You can’t expect support


  19. - Annonin' - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    We love it when the “reformers” shoot their mouths off and make no sense. TeamJB picked an Illinoisan from a NFP. What’s the beef?


  20. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 2:00 pm:

    This has nothing to do with the ongoing supplemental pay. Here you have someone who desperately wants to fix our broken child welfare agency willing to put up his own cash to launch a national search. I agree with 47. The words folks are looking for is “thank you.”


  21. - Anon, Anon, Anon... - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 2:09 pm:

    So, public/private partnership, no?


  22. - Bourbon Street - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 2:51 pm:

    I would agree with the “reformers” if the Pritzker administration was using the expenditure of private funds as a reason to avoid the FOIA, but it appears that this is not the case as it produced a copy of the search contract to the Tribune. The complaint (at this point) seems like a solution in search of a problem. Perhaps these “reformers” could find a real issue. Right now their complaint falls into the “no good deed goes unpunished” category.


  23. - Charlie Brown - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 3:00 pm:

    I agree with IT.

    I am less troubled with JB funding the search…not troubled at all really.

    And more troubled with the fact that we spent $50,000 on a nationwide search and ended up with a mid-level manager of a small nonprofit here in Illinois.

    I would like to know more about how many people applied from both inside Illinois and outside, their backgrounds, and ditto for candidates in the final round.


  24. - Centennial - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 3:08 pm:

    Did they ever release the private salary info for the golden ones? I thought that was supposed to be public.


  25. - truthteller - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 3:28 pm:

    how petty is this criticism?? JB footing the cost to HELP Illionis govt find the best people


  26. - Bruce( no not him) - Thursday, May 16, 19 @ 3:40 pm:

    What I wonder, would this groups reaction would have been if Bruce Rauner had done the same thing?


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