Did you know that patronage hiring is illegal in Illinois? Well, it is.
A 1972 court order prohibits political hiring for non-political state positions.
It's been ignored too often for many of the last 45 years, but it's still in effect, and we now have a governor who wants to abide by it and thinks it should be enforced.
The big problem for Bruce Rauner is that state employee rolls are already riddled with patronage hires and any attempt to identify them and weed them out is going to be resisted by the public employee unions to which they belong.
In 2014, Federal Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier, who is overseeing ongoing proceedings in the case (Shakman) that led to the 1972 court order, appointed Noelle Brennan as a special master to investigate the hiring practices of the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).
On April 24 of this year, Special Master Brennan reported that state officials (including Rep. Jay Hoffman of Belleville and Sen. James Clayborne of East St. Louis) had abused a special hiring exemption to place at least dozens of friends, family, and supporters into so-called “staff assistant” positions at IDOT and other state agencies, in violation of the 1972 court order.
“The governor’s office [in the previous administration] received, reviewed, forwarded, and tracked resumes,” Brennan affirmed; “most of those candidates had a political connection; and many of the politically connected candidates hired … lacked any policy or other relevant experience.”
The following day, Gov. Rauner filed a “motion for clarification” in Chicago federal court, asking for guidance as to whether state employees improperly hired through political connections can use collective bargaining agreements to remain in their positions, transfer to others, or be promoted.
In other words, do the state’s collective bargaining agreements and related labor relations documents trump the court decree prohibiting patronage hiring?
The abuses perpetrated by Pat Quinn, Mike Madigan, and other insubordinate public servants need to stopped.