Quinn: Monitor not needed to oversee state hiring

SHARE Quinn: Monitor not needed to oversee state hiring

Gov. Pat Quinn contended in a federal court filing late Monday that a court-appointed monitor is not necessary to ensure compliance with political hiring bans, as suggested by an anti-patronage attorney.

In the filing by the attorney general’s office, Quinn says his response to allegations of political hiring in the Department of Transportation has been “prompt, appropriate and aimed at a long-term solution to preventing any such improprieties in the future.”

Last month, Quinn aides announced the Transportation Department was laying off 58 people at the center of a state investigator’s findings that more than 250 people were improperly hired for political reasons at the agency over the past decade. The report found that the questionable hiring of “staff assistants” accelerated under Quinn, despite his claims to have cleaned up the practices of his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich.

Republican businessman Bruce Rauner, Quinn’s challenger in the November election, seized on the report and said the patronage revelations “are just one more reminder why we need term limits on career politicians like Pat Quinn.”

In Monday’s filing, the governor said his administration, upon receipt of a report by the Office of the Executive Inspector General on allegations of improper political hiring, agreed to implement all of its recommendations.

Quinn said he ordered that all Transportation Department executive-level staff members undergo training on proper hiring practices; that the department employees receive written performance evaluations on an annual basis; the creation of a merit board to “ensure the integrity of all personnel matters” and provide greater accountability and transparency, and a moratorium on the creation of positions that can be filled with political hires until the inspector general’s recommendations are implemented satisfactorily.

“Despite plaintiffs’ contentions, the uncontested facts do not demonstrate a widespread patronage problem,” the filing states.

The issue boiled over in April when Chicago attorney and anti-corruption campaigner Michael Shakman filed a petition asking for the appointment of an independent monitor to oversee IDOT hiring. He was responding to a Better Government Association report in August 2013 that detailed political hiring in the Transportation Department.

Under a court decree known as “Rutan,” most government jobs are supposed to be filled through merit and insulated from political considerations. But the decree allows a governor to hire political loyalists for positions that involve confidential information, policy making or public statements.

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