#62 Jul 19, 2013
As Speaker of the House .... "it is not ok to use influence and clout to push taxpayer funded jobs for family and friends" Mike Madigan "You should know better."
#63 Jul 20, 2013
It seems he prefers; "his own good" over "the common good".
#64 Jul 29, 2013
Editorial: The Metra scandal and 2014
The pols want to make this go away before the election. Don't let them.
July 29, 2013
The last time an Illinois governor decided to show some leadership about mass transit, we ended up with "Free Rides for Seniors." Remember that? Even the elderly beneficiaries of Rod Blagojevich's folly recognized it as a gratuitous political gesture, but it took more than three years for the next governor and the General Assembly to rescind the perk.
With the Metra rail system in meltdown over the ex-CEO's $718,000 hush-money buyout, Bill Daley — Gov. Pat Quinn's declared opponent in next year's Democratic gubernatorial primary — is suddenly running as a transit reformer.
The Metra board should resign, he says. The Regional Transportation Authority is "an employment agency to politicians." Daley wants to shake up the Metra board, gut the RTA and use the savings to keep fares down.
Daley's not the first person to suggest these things. Everyone knows the transit system is, well, a train wreck. But Quinn's biggest contribution to this discussion lately has been to pronounce House Speaker Michael Madigan, whose fingerprints are all over the Metra scandal, a "man of character."
So be grateful there are elections next year. Candidates for statewide and legislative offices are going to be all over this. And that means the Metra fiasco won't fade from memory, despite the best efforts of the perpetrators and their patrons.
Their plan was for Metra CEO Alex Clifford to take his money — your money — and go away quietly, silenced by the mutual confidentiality clause in his separation agreement.
Metra Chairman Brad O'Halloran insisted the agreement cloaked no wrongdoing, but we learned otherwise when the House Mass Transit Committee demanded to see the eight-page memo that led to Clifford's exit.
In that memo and in later testimony before the RTA, Clifford accused O'Halloran, board member Larry Huggins, Madigan and others of pressuring him to make personnel moves and manipulate contracts to benefit their political allies. When he refused, Clifford says, they decided to oust him.
The pols say they did nothing wrong, but it's clear they knew the public would see things differently. That's why they fought so hard to keep the memo secret.
First, this failed Metra board must go. Second, there must be serious legislative changes to prevent this from happening again.
There's no need to wait for the legislative and executive inspectors general to complete their reviews, no need for Metra to follow through on its plan to hire a former federal prosecutor to investigate, no need for the RTA to finish its audit. We expect they'll all find that no laws were broken, no ethics violations occurred — just a million or so in public money spent to quiet a whistle-blower who wouldn't go along with business as usual.
That much is already known. Yet Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel still wants to "get to the bottom" of things before deciding whether Huggins, who represents Chicago on the Metra board, should keep his job. Other public officials are ignoring calls to dump the board members they appointed, too. Why? To paraphrase Daley: Transit boards are employment agencies for politicians.
Our system has four such boards — one for each of the region's transit agencies plus the RTA to oversee them. There are 47 board members in all, each a proxy for some elected official. It's all about turf and patronage, not about keeping the buses and trains running on time.
The legislative fixes would start, then, with streamlining the governance of the transit system. That means fewer boards, with a merit system for selecting members and a clear process for removing them if necessary.
#65 Jul 29, 2013
Their focus must be on customer service and taxpayer value, not on providing jobs and contracts for people with political connections. The transit agencies must be required to work together — universal fare system, anyone?— and to stop paying lobbyists to compete with each other for funding. And apparently the law needs to spell out that hush-money separation agreements are not acceptable.
None of this will happen because of an ethics investigation or an RTA audit. It will happen because of leadership. Not just sound bites, but solutions.
The politicians who made this mess hope they can outlast the scandal and go back to doing things their way. Don't let them. Put them on notice that you won't vote for anyone who's not mad as hell about the Metra mess — and determined to do something about it.
#66 Jul 31, 2013
When lawmakers sue to get paid for not doing their jobs
Editorials July 30, 2013 6:34PM
We understand why the state’s top legislative leaders filed suit Tuesday to get paid for a job they haven’t done.
Gov. Pat Quinn’s decision to withhold all legislators’ salaries until they reduce pension costs might truly be an unconstitutional threat to “the independence of each branch of government,” as Senate President John Cullerton and House Speaker Mike Madigan contend.
We just don’t care.
Quinn’s excellent intent is to shame the Legislature into doing its job.
“In this case,” Cullerton and Madigan warn,“the governor is seeking changes to the pension system, but next time it could be tax policy, gun control or education reform. The possibilities are endless.”
Then again, anything that grabs the public’s attention about this pension mess and cranks up the outrage is OK by us.
A handful of legislators are hard at work on the problem.“Living the dream,” was how Rep. Elaine Nekritz jokingly put it during a day-long pension hearing last month. But the great majority of legislators remains unwilling to make the difficult decisions needed to reduce pension costs.
If it takes withholding their pay to bring them around, so be it.
We don’t know if the governor’s stunt amounts to a constitutional crisis, as Cullerton and Madigan claim.
We do know that Illinois faces a financial crisis .
And the only way out is for every legislator to do his or her job.
#67 Aug 1, 2013
Editorial: Finally, an emergency
Lawmakers scurry to court, demanding their paychecks
July 31, 2013
"The Governor's decision follows my efforts and I understand his frustration. I am hopeful his strategy works."
— Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on Gov. Pat Quinn's decision to veto an appropriation for legislators' pay, July 10, 2013.
"This action was purely political and an unconstitutional attempt to coerce the Legislature to comply with his demands."
— Speaker Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton on their lawsuit challenging Quinn's pay veto, July 30, 2013.
At last we know what constitutes an emergency in this state.
Not dangerously unfunded pension liabilities.
Not businesses moving out of state.
Not the nation's second-highest unemployment rate.
Not the lowest credit rating in the country or the high borrowing costs that come with it.
Not drastic cuts to education, public safety or health care.
Not social service agencies and vendors waiting for Deadbeat Illinois to pay its overdue bills.
Not total debts the state treasurer pegs at some $200 billion-with-a-b.
No. None of the above.
Turns out, to get lawmakers to sense an emergency, you have to suspend ... their ... pay. Quinn pulled out his red veto pen and suddenly Madigan and Cullerton sprang to action, demanding an injunction to force the state to pay the 177 members of the General Assembly. Payday is Thursday. Pony up!
Madigan's and Cullerton's lawsuit against Quinn and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka claims Quinn violated the separation of powers in the Illinois Constitution by stripping lawmakers of their salaries. Quinn, remember, made his move to compel action on pension reform, the single biggest issue strangling this state's finances.
Oh, how the Constitution becomes the beacon of justice for our state's Democratic leaders when it serves their interests. On other matters outlined in the Constitution — fair redistricting (Article 4, Section 3), bill introductions, passage and single subject (Article 4, Sections 7 and 8), special legislation (Article 4, Section 13), state finances (Article 8, Sections 1 and 2) and primary funding of education (Article 10, Section 1)— the General Assembly often takes a more relaxed approach toward constitutional obligations. Yes, when it comes to the document's language on balanced budgets, education funding, compact and contiguous districts — well, they try their best.
But a line item veto of legislators' pay, now that's an alleged violation of the Constitution offensive enough to fight in court. To merit an immediate injunction.
Does it surprise you that, in their lawsuit, the plaintiffs demand not only their pay, but "interest on any amounts that have been withheld."
If only they were as persnickety about your dimes and quarters as they are about their dimes and quarters.
What's more, taxpayers, this legal bill is all on you. You'll be paying for lawyers on both sides of this case. You'll be paying for the courts.
Madigan and Cullerton will press their case in Cook County Circuit Court, where they just happen to have a lot of friends who wear robes. Let's see which judge gets to hear it.
For now, though, much has been revealed. To business owners and vendors in Illinois who have dealt with months of delays getting paid by the state, to taxpayers whom lawmakers have put on the hook for those $200 billion in debts ...
Behold! Now you know what constitutes an emergency worthy of urgent response from your legislators.
This is your state government in action.
#68 Aug 1, 2013
Yeah mikey is all worried about getting his pay check he should be that worried about lowering taxes and cutting spending and our state wouldnt be in the toliet!!!!
#69 Aug 1, 2013
Politicians are concerned about their own wallet, campaign contributions, votes, and power. They are NOT concerned about the taxpayers, public or the well being of the people they were elected to serve. Mike and his loyal followers are responsible for the financial mess they created; "Remember that at the polls on voting day!"
#70 Aug 1, 2013
Thats why a politician should be a non payed job.Everybody should get a turn at bat.A never ending revolving door like jury duty.No pay no never ening term just do your two year part time gig and leave and let the next american get their turn.That way no big companies control congressmen and no special interest.
#71 Aug 2, 2013
Funds have been loosened up so they can be distributed to vendors who typically wait several months to be paid;)
Thanks Gov. Quinn!
#72 Aug 4, 2013
The door is over there >>>
Four board members have resigned. Who's next?
August 4, 2013
Minutes before the Metra rail board approved a generous settlement meant to secure the quiet exit of CEO Alex Clifford, Chairman Brad O'Halloran read a statement explaining why Clifford had to go:
"The board believes it is critical that Metra moves in a different direction — one built on finding a new consensus in Springfield and Washington to develop new resources to serve our passengers and our communities," the June 21 statement said.
Clifford, in other words, did not play nicely with politicians.
Taxpayers should be grateful for that, now that they know what Clifford and the pols were butting heads over. He had rejected House Speaker Michael Madigan's requests to hire, promote or give raises to Democratic foot soldiers. He rebuffed state Rep. Luis Arroyo's attempt to meddle in the selection of a key Metra deputy. He refused to sign a $50,000 check to an organization named by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush to provide a vaguely described service never discussed by the Metra board. And more.
That $50,000 side deal was supposedly meant to ensure that jobs on a $93 million Englewood Flyover contract went to African-Americans who lived nearby. Larry Huggins, who at the time was acting board chairman, had delayed a vote on the contract because of protests launched by Rush and community leaders. Though the contractor, Elgin-based IHC Construction Cos., met federal guidelines for minority participation, the protesters demanded assurances that jobs would go to blacks living in and around Englewood.
An ad hoc committee eventually negotiated a memorandum of understanding with the contractor, who agreed to let black-owned construction companies bid for work beyond the 25 percent already included in the proposal. And that was supposed to be that, the committee members told the Tribune. They never talked about Metra paying anyone to monitor compliance with the memorandum.
But in testimony before the Regional Transportation Authority board, Clifford said Huggins told him to cut a $50,000 check to the group named by Rush. When Clifford insisted on board approval, he said, Huggins dropped the request.
All of this might have been avoided, Clifford told the RTA board, if Target Group — a consulting firm owned by a business associate of Huggins — had fulfilled the terms of a $200,000 no-bid contract it got from Metra, with help from Huggins and Rush, in 2010. Target was supposed to recruit and pre-qualify minority bidders, Clifford said, but he terminated its contract because it was over budget and far from finished with its work.
It's safe to say the whole Englewood Flyover episode did not earn Clifford any points for consensus-building, at least not in the eyes of O'Halloran and Huggins.
Convinced that they were conspiring to oust him, Clifford threatened to file a whistle-blower lawsuit.
That led to the infamous $718,000 separation agreement with its mutual confidentiality clause, but the scandal couldn't be contained.
Four board members — including Huggins and O'Halloran — have since followed Clifford out the door. Who's next?
#73 Aug 4, 2013
Editorial: Metra controversy shows need for ethics law with teeth
The continuing furor over the Metra commuter rail agency board shows the need for a stronger ethics law in Illinois.
An offshoot of the ongoing controversy involving Metra and its $718,000 buyout of its former CEO is the highlight it is putting on the state's Legislative Ethics Commission and the decades-old law under which it operates.
In reporting on the issue, The Associated Press provided a comical quote from one of the state's leading Democratic spokesmen: "I think some people may be chasing problems that don't exist," said Steve Brown, powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan's spokesman. "The (ethical) problems that we see in Illinois largely focus at the executive branch."
Hmmm. The ethical and criminal issues with our former governors certainly have been the focal point in recent years in Illinois. But ethical transgressions for politicians in Illinois are all too commonplace, no matter where on the political rung they sit. Ethical lapses large and small have been proven for congressmen, legislators, judges and local officials, whether city, suburban or downstate.
That's why a federal judge sentencing a building contractor caught up in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's ethical reign of terror had this to say this week: "We live in a state that unfortunately is afflicted by political corruption.... It's been that way as long as most of us can remember," said 84-year-old U.S. District Judge John F. Grady. "We keep hoping things are going to change."
Indeed, change is needed at all levels. Many reforms have been put in place in the last few years, but we disagree with anyone who thinks more can't be done.
Tom Homer, the state's legislative inspector general, told The Associated Press in another story this week that the ethics law passed in 1967 is a "toothless tiger" that needs to be strengthened. "Actions that may be considered unethical often fall through the cracks," the former Democratic legislator and judge said. "There's really no punishment specified."
He would like the law to allow lawmakers to get censured and suspended for ethical violations and to have investigations publicized. He also wants legislators barred from voting on bills that would financially benefit them or their families and to require extensive public disclosure of legislators' financial activity and relationships.
We strongly support any tightening of such rules and the added transparency Homer is suggesting. His pleas have fallen on deaf ears with the Democratic majority, including Madigan, who now faces an investigation by Homer and the Legislative Ethics Commission as to whether the speaker violated any rules when he asked Metra officials to give a raise to an associate and that he sought a job for another associate. Madigan says he did nothing wrong.
That may well prove to be true. But we'd feel more confident with that finding if there were a stronger ethics law dictating that outcome.
#74 Aug 5, 2013
No more secret severance
One lesson: Forbid confidentiality clauses
August 4, 2013
Fallout from the serious allegations at Metra has so far included the resignations of four board members, including Chairman Brad O'Halloran. More must go.
But before we dust off our palms and bank on leadership changes alone to deliver A New Era of Transparency, the transit agency — and all public bodies in Illinois — should undergo a serious cultural and policy transformation: No more confidentiality clauses in personnel severance agreements.
When Metra ousted CEO Alex Clifford under questionable circumstances and with an unusually generous severance package, most of the juicy detail was supposed to remain secret. Clifford's severance contract outlines the hush-hush terms of his departure. In summary: Talk publicly about Metra or the terms of your removal, and risk losing the money promised to you.
Metra officials including O'Halloran repeatedly described the confidentiality language as "standard." When an employee, public or private sector, leaves under embarrassing or complicated circumstances, both sides often agree not to talk about it. Nothing to see here folks. Move along.
But there's a problem when those circumstances involve public sector workers: Taxpayers have a right to know their money isn't being spent to hide wrongdoing. Confidentiality clauses should be prohibited, or severely limited, for any severance package that spends the public's money. Why? Because secrecy almost always works against the public's interest.
Imagine how differently Clifford's ouster would have played out (perhaps not at all) if state law (hint, hint, lawmakers) restricted Metra's board from muzzling him. He might still be on the job.
The only reason we know the contents of Clifford's controversial eight-page memo, which helped explain his $718,000 severance package, was because public pressure eventually forced its release.
The memo lifted the curtain on Metra's operations, including instances where House Speaker Michael Madigan, state Rep. Luis Arroyo and others interfered in personnel decisions. Board member Larry Huggins, who resigned Friday, and U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush also meddled in agency contracts.
Oops. What a blow to Metra's board of directors who believed the memo would remain confidential. Clearly, they miscalculated the public relations disaster they created by trying to quietly oust their executive director.
Not so quiet, eh?
Clifford testified at a July 17 Regional Transportation Authority hearing only with assurances from Metra that it would not consider his appearance a violation of the confidentiality clause. Several times during the hearing, he turned to Metra's attorneys seated in the hearing room for permission to speak: Mother May I?
Even now, if Clifford goes too far or talks to the media, he risks losing the compensation promised to him in his separation agreement.
Supporters of confidentiality clauses point to the few scenarios in which they make sense. Protecting company trade secrets is one example, and part of Clifford's separation agreement addressed that. Fine. Any change to Illinois law can permit a very narrowly drawn clause to protect a government's genuinely proprietary information.
But what drives most of these clauses isn't concern about trade secrets. The more common concern is about political secrets and humiliations. Gagging Clifford and Metra board members from telling the truth about his departure fits the norm. And the norm flies in the face of good governance.
The state's Freedom of Information Act already allows public bodies to prevent certain personnel matters from becoming public. Metra's leaders and board went far beyond that by codifying their gag order in Clifford's separation agreement. And why?
To protect themselves from embarrassment.
That's atrocious, indefensible public policy.
Confidentiality has a place and time — but never to cover up allegations of public corruption.
#75 Aug 9, 2013
Editorial: The Madigan family feud
What to make of the father-daughter dust-up
August 8, 2013
"Do I recognize that he's important and powerful? Yes. But he has always been an amazing and responsible and loving father. That is his role in my life." — Lisa Madigan, February 2002
For more than a decade, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, have maintained an amiable public relationship that revealed little to the public. They have been united in their expressions of affection ... and in their code of silence about family matters.
Things have shifted.
Lisa Madigan made the surprise announcement last month she would not run for governor. She could have put out a benign news release, explaining her love for the attorney general's job. Lots of people would have been surprised, but everybody would have moved on.
Instead, she poked a stick in her father's eye. She violated the Madigan privacy canon. She rested her own decision on a decision by her father.
"I feel strongly that the state would not be well served by having a governor and speaker of the House from the same family and have never planned to run for governor if that would be the case. With Speaker Madigan planning to continue in office, I will not run for governor," she said in a statement.
That seemed like a jab — his ambitions were coming before hers. Dad's needs came first.
But it was nothing compared to what her father did to her this week.
"Lisa and I had spoken about that on several occasions, and she knew very well that I did not plan to retire," he told reporters. "She knew what my position was. She knew."
So when she was raising tons of money and telling supporters and contributors that she was oh-so-close to taking on Gov. Pat Quinn ... she knew that nothing of the sort was going to happen?
You can't escape the implication. Michael Madigan was saying his daughter knew all along that he was going nowhere. And if she really did "feel strongly that the state would not be well served" by Madigans as governor and speaker, then she knew all along that she was going nowhere.
People in politics have been buzzing about Michael Madigan's comments. Were they a calculated public admonishment of his daughter? Or did the famously disciplined Madigan lose his discipline and give us all a rare peek into a family feud?
Is he angry about what his daughter said? Does he harbor any regret that, at age 71, with 42 years in the legislature, he stands in the way of a bid for advancement when she's in her political prime?
Does she harbor any regret that she raised more than $800,000 in campaign contributions this year, largely on the expectation that she would run for governor?
In 2002 during Lisa Madigan's campaign for attorney general, Michael Madigan admitted to Tribune columnist John Kass that his love for his daughter clouded his perspective on the race.
"Well, the answer is yes. She's my daughter and I love her and I'm proud of her. You have some long days, right? The criticism, the unfounded shots, the negative attacks, it makes it more difficult to focus. But you do it. You have to. Especially now," Madigan said.
Now here he is, teeing her up for criticism.
We don't expect we'll hear a lot more about this from Michael Madigan. He speaks sparingly to the media as it is.
And their family business is their family business ... except when it involves the public's business. And this does.
#76 Aug 9, 2013
"When People Show You Who They Really Are Believe Them!"
#77 Sep 30, 2013
Madigan son-in-law 1 of 2 RTA officials in harassment probe
BY TIM NOVAK AND DAVE McKINNEY Staff Reporters
The Regional Transportation Authority’s top two executives — one of them the son-in-law of Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan — are under investigation over allegations involving sexual and racial harassment of RTA employees.
The RTA has referred the matter to the state’s executive inspector general, Ricardo Meza, following an internal investigation of the allegations, which were leveled more than a year ago against the agency’s executive director, Joseph Costello, and his chief of staff, Jordan Matyas.
Matyas is the son-in-law of Madigan (D-Chicago) and the brother-in-law of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
The allegations involve “a series of anonymous complaints about sexual and racial harassment complaints against Joe Costello and Jordan Matyas” involving comments made at meetings, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
RTA officials won’t talk about the allegations. They denied requests from the Chicago Sun-Times for records of the investigation the RTA had done last year by Renee Benjamin, a former attorney for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority.
The Sun-Times appealed to the attorney general’s office to win the release of information on the investigation. The RTA told the agency headed by Matyas’ sister-in-law it couldn’t release the information because the case had been referred to Meza.
“All of the requested records ... were submitted to the executive inspector general,” the RTA’s LaToya Redd wrote.“The Office of the Executive Inspector General has not made any findings. Therefore, the requested records may not be disclosed.”
Under Illinois law, Meza has up to a year after “the most recent act of the alleged violation or of a series of alleged violations” to launch an investigation — unless there’s a suspicion of “fraudulent concealment,” which would nullify that time restriction.
The law says the subject of an investigation can request a letter from Meza’s office stating that the investigation has been closed and a complaint found to be without merit. Neither Matyas nor Costello has obtained such a letter, according to an RTA spokesman.
Meza, who is barred by law from discussing an investigation, won’t even say his office is investigating.
Matyas dismisses the investigation, saying it’s based on “false accusations”
that are “baseless, without merit and absolutely false. No evidence whatsoever has been found to support these outlandish claims, and I will not allow them to detract from my work at the RTA.
“These accusations are part of a smear campaign orchestrated by those who would rather that the RTA not be empowered by law to provide the real, effective oversight that is so desperately needed to ensure that northeastern Illinois has an efficient and world-class mass transit system.”
Costello didn’t respond to requests for comment.
The RTA’s board has been briefed on the allegations, which prompted the agency to order “sensitivity training” for all employees and for board members.
“There’s some sensitivity training — we all got some lessons in that,” says RTA board member Donald Totten, a former Republican state legislator from Elgin.
Costello and Matyas were interviewed by Benjamin and RTA Board Chairman John Gates, according to Totten.
Benjamin and Gates couldn’t be reached for comment.
RTA records show Matyas did two rounds of sensitivity training last year, starting with an online program covering employment law and discrimination and the prevention of unlawful harassment and workplace violence — coursework the records show he completed in 108 minutes.
#78 Sep 30, 2013
Matyas also attended a two-day seminar last October in Downers Grove sponsored by Dale Carnegie Training on “How to Communicate with Diplomacy and Tact.” That session, which cost the RTA $1,695 in registration fees, was billed as a way to help participants “gain dexterity and grace in dealing with new or trying situations; recognize how you come across to others; speak honestly and confidently; become conscious of body language; master your emotions; give and receive criticism constructively; present yourself as powerful — not intimidating; and say what you need to say without offending or creating conflict,” according to the RTA records.
Matyas previously was a lobbyist. He was hired by the RTA in March 2011 as deputy executive director for government and community affairs. His pay:$130,000 a year.
In June 2012, Matyas was promoted to a newly created post of chief of staff and given a $30,000-a-year raise. That opening wasn’t posted internally, and no other applicants were interviewed, according to the RTA. The agency didn’t fill Matyas’ old job.
The RTA hired Matyas after the Sun-Times reported in 2010 that, while working as a lobbyist for a Florida company, he helped his sister-in-law’s staff write legislation to cap interest rates on payday loans and create a state database to help ensure that people don’t borrow more than they can repay.
Matyas’ client, Veritec Solutions, stood to make millions of dollars as a result of that legislation. The state had used the company to track payday loans for five years prior to the legislative deal.
#79 Oct 27, 2013
One way that figure in Metra scandal got Speaker Madigan’s ear: campaign work
By DAVE McKINNEY and PATRICK REHKAMP October 25, 2013
When a Metra employee named Patrick Ward complained to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan last year that he wasn’t being paid enough, his gripe got him a higher-paying job. And it ultimately led Alex Clifford to leave the transit agency’s top post with a hefty severance deal and a host of explosive complaints about patronage demands that are now under review by a governor’s task force.
One reason Ward had Madigan’s ear: He’d done political grunt work the powerful Southwest Side Democrat needed.
Before going to Madigan for a raise, Ward went door to door for him, gathering voters’ signatures in October 2011 to ensure the speaker got on the ballot the following spring.
Ward was a small but important cog in the Madigan re-election effort — one of 30 people who circulated the nominating petitions he needed to get on the 2012 ballot.
As many as 29 of the 30 people work or previously worked in government; a dozen acknowledge working for local governments. Another 17 appear either to currently be getting a government paycheck or to have been as of last year, based on payroll records that match their names and dates of birth or home addresses.
“It’s not surprising that people involved in government get involved in politics,” Madigan spokesman Steve Brown says.“It is what it is.”
A close examination of the 2011 Madigan petition circulators — as well as payroll records, pension records, campaign-finance reports and interviews — shows the campaign foot soldiers:
◆ In many case hold jobs for which politics isn’t supposed to be a factor in hiring, including sanitation laborer, plumber, truck driver, cashier and court reporter.
◆ Collectively were being paid roughly $2 million a year in their government jobs as of 2012.
◆ In some instances — Ward, for example — are drawing a government paycheck and a public pension.
◆ Contributed more than $200,000 altogether to political funds for Madigan or his daughter, Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
◆ Work for arms of government including the Cook County sheriff’s office, the Chicago Department of Water Management, the City Council Committee on Finance, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the CTA, the Cook County recorder of deeds and the state comptroller’s office.
In early 2012, Michael Madigan went to Metra seeking a raise for Ward, who was then making $57,000 a year. When that effort failed, the speaker’s office got Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration to create a job for Ward paying $13,000 more than what he made at Metra.
Clifford wrote a memo to the Metra board saying he felt pressured by Madigan’s office to take “politically motivated employment actions,” and Clifford ended up being forced out for refusing to do so. Madigan has denied those claims.
Clifford wrote that Madigan — through a Metra lobbyist and then-Metra board member Larry Huggins, who has since resigned — pushed for a raise for Ward.
Huggins has denied that, though Madigan acknowledged his office “forwarded a recommendation to Metra senior staff that Mr. Ward be considered for a salary adjustment.”
Clifford also wrote that he asked Ward “why I was getting pressure from Speaker Madigan with regard to his salary.”
“Mr. Ward said his family had supported Mr. Madigan for many years and worked on his political campaigns,” Clifford wrote.“He said that he had discussed his Metra employment with Mr. Madigan at a Madigan political event, where he told Mr. Madigan that he felt underpaid.”
Ward was also getting a $52,700-a-year city pension, bringing his taxpayer-funded compensation at the time to nearly $110,000, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in July.
Metra’s board gave Clifford a severance package worth up to $871,000 to hasten his departure and tried to keep details behind his leaving secret. But after word got out, several Metra board members ended up leaving.
#80 Oct 27, 2013
Told about how many Madigan petition circulators, including Ward, got government jobs, one of the remaining Metra board members, Jack Schaffer, a Republican who was a state legislator for 20 years, says that’s “what [Clifford] and I and the majority of people at Metra didn’t want to be involved with — having political people on the payroll based on their clout, not their credentials and willingness to put in an honest day’s work.
“You have a good friend who’ll take care of you. Clearly, it is what I call the old-style politics. It’s still functioning in that organization,” Schaffer said.
Ward won’t comment.
Other Madigan petition circulators say the speaker had nothing to do with them landing their jobs.
Robert Grogan, 62, a senior securities investigator for Secretary of State Jesse White, was hired in 2002 after working more than 30 years for Cook County. He gets a $74,901-a-year county pension on top of the $85,680 he makes working for White. Since 2001, Grogan has given $12,100 to funds controlled by Madigan and his daughter, and he called himself a “big booster of Democratic politics.”
But he said he never felt pressured to give money or do campaign work.“Oh, no, I’m 62 years old, and I wouldn’t be pressured to do anything,” Grogan said.
Patrick Rehkamp works for the
Better Government Association.
#81 Oct 27, 2013
Rich Hyatt2 hours ago
So Grogan has one pension and he is putting his time in for the second one. You wonder why the state is broke?
John Susmaras5 hours ago
Okay boys and girls , for those of you enrolled in Political Science 101 , please open your texts to Chapter One , " It Is What It Is " . Before doing so , please read the Forward by Messrs . Rod Blagojevich and Jesse Jackson Jr.
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