* From the Hickey report…
The Speaker’s Office cannot address workers’ fear of retaliation by changing a policy. Trust must be earned, and for workers who have lost trust, it will be hard to regain. Fortunately, many of the people who expressed fear of retaliation said that the workplace was headed in the right direction. Many of the people who believed that Mr. Mapes would retaliate against them felt better with Ms. Basham as Chief of Staff. We recommend that the Speaker’s Office use the momentum it has created to continue building workers’ trust in its leadership.
Notably, most people did not believe that Speaker Madigan would retaliate against them. Instead, the fear was that Speaker Madigan did not know who they were and, thus, would not know to defend them if they were punished or terminated. Initially, we were concerned that people spoke positively about Speaker Madigan because he had authority and they feared retaliation. It became clear to us, however, that many people who work in the Speaker’s Office joined because of their respect and admiration for Speaker Madigan or the Illinois legislature overall. Moreover, many of the people we interviewed who no longer worked in the Speaker’s Office at the time of their interview—and therefore did not have the same reason for concern—expressed the same sentiment. It is not surprising then that most workers believed in and trusted the Speaker.
We believe that this trust in the Speaker is a unique asset for the Speaker’s Office, which can be used to address its unique challenges. Workers appeared to want to be seen and valued by Speaker Madigan. This was evidenced by the overall positive feedback we heard regarding the Speaker’s listening sessions, which was the first time the Speaker made rounds to hear from all levels of the Speaker’s Office.
Many of the challenges we learned about were caused by the fact that power was centralized in the former Chief of Staff, Clerk of the House, and Executive Director of DPI, Timothy Mapes. We recommend that Speaker Madigan not delegate such power in one person again. To some extent, the Chief of Staff position will always have great actual and perceived authority, and the person who fills that position will have a large influence on the entire office. The Speaker’s Office has already recognized the benefits of decentralizing this power by, for example, having a separate Chief of Staff and Clerk of the House. This separation should remain in place. […]
The Speaker must be more visible and accessible to all workers in the Speaker’s Office. To have a more visible and pronounced role, the Speaker can, for example, continue to hold listening sessions throughout the year, open to all workers. We also suggest that these listening sessions occur shortly after legislative sessions. Since legislative sessions are stressful for all workers, we believe this could go a long way to show appreciation for workers and identify issues and solutions while they are still fresh in people’s minds.
Likewise, having a separate ethics officer and general counsel may make people more comfortable approaching the ethics officer with questions or issues. As it is, workers may not feel as comfortable approaching the same person for confidential advice that is also the attorney for the Speaker. Separating these positions will also allow the ethics officer to act in a more ombudsman-like role.
The idea of separating the ethics office from the general counsel’s office is a good one.