#63 May 28, 2014
Mautino said he spoke last Friday with Shaw, who left the state payroll in October 2012, and she is amenable to appearing before the committee.
Mautino said he wasn’t clear when the panel would next meet, though he hoped it would be soon to focus on how to prevent future missteps like this by the administration and to help keep the issue from devolving into campaign fodder.
“Something like this is better to do sooner rather than later. It gives you the answers, and hopefully stops political circuses that can lend themselves to issues,” Mautino said.“This is a screwed-up audit. We know it’s screwed up.”
#64 May 28, 2014
This corruption is real, and sad.
#65 May 29, 2014
Quinn to City: Drop Dead
Stalling on Chicago pension bill hurts taxpayers
May 29, 2014
The Illinois General Assembly's spring session is scheduled to end Saturday. But another clock is ticking: 11 days remain for Gov. Pat Quinn to sign or veto a Chicago pension bill caught in election-year politics.
The bill, pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, would significantly reform two of the city's pension funds for laborers and municipal workers. It landed on Quinn's desk April 10. He had 60 days from that point to take action or it automatically becomes law. That deadline is June 9.
Quinn, the self-described I-was-put-on-Earth-to-get-this -done pension reformer, should have signed the bill seven weeks ago. Instead, he's been playing the role of fictional superhero, claiming to be protecting Chicago property taxpayers by sitting on the bill.
"I'm committed to property tax reform and property tax relief," Quinn said recently of the bill on his desk. "We're going to look at the bill and we'll review it."
But if Quinn vetoes the bill, and it appears he might, that action would come at the expense of Chicago taxpayers, not at their benefit.
On Oct. 29, 1975, President Gerald Ford said he would veto any federal bailout of New York City. With Gotham nearing bankruptcy due to a stagnant U.S. economy and poorly managed city finances, Mayor Abraham Beame had asked the federal government for help.
The New York Daily News responded the next morning to Ford's refusal with a legendary, glaring headline: FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.
Ford saw his position as one of tough love for a city that had caused many of its own problems. Editors at the Daily News interpreted his remarks quite differently.
Chicago is not on the verge of bankruptcy, as New York was in 1975. Lawyers there had already drawn up bankruptcy protection paperwork when Ford finally agreed to help with a loan.
But Chicago needs relief, now, from its pension obligations. Emanuel's bill, which the city negotiated with the labor unions and which already passed the House and Senate, provides relief. Quinn so far is blocking it, saying property owners would be on the hook for higher tax bills.
Ford said he wouldn't make federal taxpayers fix New York.
Quinn thus far won't let Chicago take whatever steps are necessary to fix itself. That's how Chicago's mayor sold this bill to legislators. And if Chicagoans eventually revolt over those steps, Emanuel, not Quinn, will wear the jacket.
Let's be clear: The bill on Quinn's desk does not instruct the city to raise property taxes. An earlier version that included a property tax hike got dropped almost immediately.
#66 May 29, 2014
This bill gives the city options and rightfully puts City Hall in charge of figuring out how to pay for its own pension costs while limiting benefits for workers. Quinn, a statewide officeholder, really has no business inserting himself into that local debate, which would unfold among the city's 50 elected aldermen. Many of them have expressed reservations about turning to higher property taxes. But this is their problem, not Quinn's.
Just last month, Quinn said: "Chicago has to address its own situation when it comes to pension reform, but I think they need to be a whole lot more creative than I've seen so far."
Yes, Chicago needs to address its own situation. So sign the bill, Governor.
Quinn's inaction on Emanuel's bill is disingenuous in other ways:
•The widely hailed state pension reform bill Quinn signed in December doesn't rely on property taxes. But it relies heavily on the income tax — the tax Quinn is trying to keep at a high rate. So at the same time he knocks Emanuel for raising the issue of higher property taxes to cover local pensions, Quinn is reaching into a different taxpayer pocket and demanding high income taxes ... to cover state pensions.
•In January, Quinn signed a Chicago Park District pension reform bill that relies in part on borrowing to reduce the district's pension liabilities. Park District officials don't deny they likely will turn to property taxes to pay off the bonds.
•A pension bill now zooming through the General Assembly addresses Cook County's pension funds. Pushed by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the bill would require the county to pay more into its pension funds going forward. Preckwinkle isn't saying where she'll come up with the money in the county budget. But she hasn't ruled out property taxes. "Everything is on the table," she has said repeatedly.
So if Preckwinkle's bill gets to Quinn's desk, will he block it, too, out of deep (and newfound) concern for property taxes?
For more than two years, Quinn has been one of Illinois' loudest voices calling for pension reform. He canceled lawmakers' paychecks last summer to prod them into a pension solution. But now that he's in the middle of his re-election campaign, he's strapping on every life vest he can find, and that includes advocating for taxpayers, however hypocritically and inconsistently.
Governor: Chicago isn't asking you for a bailout like New York in 1975. Emanuel isn't even asking you to take a tough position. He's asking you to sign a bill that would send the tough decisions back to City Hall, where they belong.
The longer you wait, Governor, the more you endanger the city's credit rating, allow aldermen to stall a fix and grow the liabilities in the pension funds.
All of that hurts the property taxpayers you purport to be protecting.
The clock is running. Sign the bill. Quit fretting about the impact on your re-election chances. Let Chicago help itself.
Stop telling this City to Drop Dead.
#67 May 30, 2014
Voters have been taken advantage of for many years by Quinn and Madigan with a possible end in sight in November, 2014. Get out the vote!
#68 Jun 12, 2014
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Illinoisans are headed elsewhere
June 11, 2014
I've lived here about four years after moving from Atlanta (originally from Charlotte, N.C.).
At first I loved it (and I've lived in other states as well), but now, no way. I'd like to move as soon as possible mainly due to state living costs.
I supported Gov. Pat Quinn in the past, but after he raised tolls, train fares and corporate taxes during a recession, I couldn't possibly support these decisions. Why would someone in power do something to further impede those few with a job? Raise their taxes? Raise their commuting fares to work? What's the thinking there?
Also, I learned the Illinois legislature gave its members a pay raise. Nice. I'm not getting one, nor are most of Illinois citizens. Guess that's why so many want to leave.
How many people is Illinois losing to other destinations? Maybe that should be a priority with a task force.
Illinoisans are looking for a plan -- a simple plan that is published and transparent, something we can all see to give us hope. Otherwise, there are unwanted real estate sales, foreclosures, moving sales, bookings for movers.
How will leaders of this state stop this bleeding of population? After all, it's their paycheck.
-- Angela Arndt
Since: May 14
#69 Jun 12, 2014
Welcome to the Dick Durbin and Michael Madigan machine!! This is what happens when you solidify your position in government. They continue to rip the people off with intentional poor decision making and yet they still exist. I don't know if there is a better solution because most politicians are either corrupt or become corrupt because of the political environment, but it's worth a shot to vote their pathetic butts out!!!
#70 Jun 17, 2014
Illinois can not pay it's bills. Why so many give aways Governor Quinn?
#71 Jun 18, 2014
State and municipal Debts continue to Grow!
Since: May 14
#72 Jun 18, 2014
What about the big picture..... The federal government!!!!! Do you think it's a coincidence that state and municipal government debt is growing??? It's called the liberal way.
#73 Jun 18, 2014
Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider said in April she knew nothing about potentially illegal patronage hiring at the state agency she runs.
Now, Schneider is refusing to discuss how her stepdaughter secured a job and promotion at the Illinois Department of Transportation – and whether the proper personnel procedures were followed.
Schneider was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2011 to run the state agency, which maintains thousands of miles of roads across the state, and helps promote and regulate rail travel and airports in Illinois.
The Better Government Association confirmed Schneider's stepdaughter Ashley Carpenter was hired at IDOT in 2006 as a part-time clerical secretary in the Division of Aeronautics.
At the time, Schneider was IDOT's director of finance and administration, one of the top jobs. The BGA also found that Carpenter was promoted in 2007 into a full-time "staff assistant" post in IDOT's District 6 office in Springfield.
An IDOT spokesman said Schneider did not help Carpenter get either job.
However, Schneider would not agree to an interview, and an interview with Carpenter raised questions about whether strings indeed were pulled.
Carpenter told the BGA she does not know, even today, how the staff assistant position came about.
She relayed that she was at her IDOT job when, one day, generic personnel paperwork arrived on her desk, which she filled out and turned in.
Shortly after, Carpenter said, she found out through the mail that she had been promoted to a staff assistant. She said she never applied or interviewed to become a staff assistant, or discussed that prospect with Schneider.
"Honestly, I have no idea how I became full-time," Carpenter said. "I have no idea who put that stack of papers on my desk."
Carpenter was hired as a staff assistant using the "Rutan-exempt" process, where politics and other subjective factors are allowed to be used as a basis for hiring, according to IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell, and documents obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
Most state-government hiring, firing and promotions are supposed to be objective – free of politics, nepotism and the like – ever since a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision known as "Rutan."
Under Rutan, politics can be considered in hiring only for a small number of select jobs that deal with policy, legal issues and media responsibilities, among others.
The BGA reported last year that IDOT, under Gov. Pat Quinn and his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich, hired numerous people as staff assistants, and assigned terms such as "policy" and "spokesperson" to their job descriptions during the application process. With those responsibilities, the posts could be filled by virtually anyone, without regard to qualifications.
The problem, the BGA found: Despite those descriptive terms, many of the staff assistants did not end up performing those duties. Really, they did the type of work that should have resulted in an objective hiring process where qualifications mattered. The BGA also found that staff assistants often ended up in union positions – a protected status that meant they were harder to fire or demote with a change in governor.
In other words, the BGA found that IDOT appeared to violate state-government personnel procedures stemming from the Supreme Court's Rutan ruling.
In Carpenter's case, documents show Carpenter was hired as a staff assistant for "development and coordination of policy," and an IDOT spokesman said she was indeed performing those duties.
However, Carpenter said she could not discuss whether she actually performed policy work as a staff assistant. "I can't answer that," Carpenter told the BGA.
In an interview with the BGA in April, Schneider said she did not know about issues of political hiring involving staff assistants.
#74 Jun 18, 2014
"I was not aware that that was the case," Schneider said. "I was under the assumption that the job descriptions accurately reflected the work that those people would be doing when they came on."
More recently, the BGA pressed IDOT to make Schneider available to talk specifically about her stepdaughter's situation, but the agency refused. Schneider couldn't otherwise be reached for comment.
Earlier this year, Carpenter joined IDOT's Division of Aeronautics as a data analyst, where she makes $52,872 a year. Her new job is listed as "Rutan-covered," meaning she now cannot be fired for political reasons.
Carpenter said she works hard, and doesn't rely on her family connections.
"I'm good at what I do, and I know I'm good at what I do," she said.
Because she is no longer a staff assistant, Carpenter's job was not subject to a "desk audit" launched by IDOT after the initial BGA story. In that audit, IDOT found that 50 of the 61 remaining staff assistants at the agency were not performing the kind of work they were hired to do – indicating the Supreme Court decision was likely violated in the hiring process.
Since 2003, IDOT hired more than 200 staff assistants. Many, like Carpenter, have since moved to other roles within the agency, and are now covered by unions.
In April, Chicago attorney Michael Shakman, an anti-patronage crusader, filed papers in U.S. District Court seeking to remove improper IDOT hires, and have the jobs re-filled through a fair process. Schneider said in April that because so many are now in unions, doing that would be too costly to taxpayers.
#75 Jun 24, 2014
“What’s the endgame here? What are we going to accomplish?” asked Rita in his best move-along, nothing-more-here-to-see voice during a subcommittee meeting of the Legislative Audit Commission.
The $55 Million should have gone to pay the state's bills.
Quinn IS responsible and must be held accountable.
#76 Jul 2, 2014
Quinn's been quiet about reforming Illinois
Where's the guy who wanted to empower the people?
July 2, 2014
Gov. Pat Quinn wants you to know that he tried very, very hard to give voters the chance to impose term limits on lawmakers. Twenty years ago, that is.
Where's he been lately?
Last week, the governor's re-election campaign sent around a 1993 photo of Quinn — who was then the state treasurer, preparing to run for secretary of state — plugging his "Eight is Enough" amendment in front of a statue of a young Abraham Lincoln.
That amendment was knocked off the ballot by the Illinois Supreme Court in August 1994.
Fast-forward to last Friday, when a Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled a different term limits proposal invalid, setting in motion an appeals process that no doubt will end, again, in the state Supreme Court. This time, the term limits banner is being waved by Bruce Rauner, Quinn's Republican opponent.
In a statement accompanying that archival photo, the Quinn campaign feigned disappointment that the state's Democratic cabal had crushed a citizens' initiative, then gleefully pointed a finger at Rauner's "poorly drafted election-year proposal."
"Rauner has nobody but himself to blame for harming the term limits cause," the statement said. "As the governor said in 1994 and believes to this day, it is unfortunate that the people of Illinois have been denied the ability to enact pure term limits directly through referendum as Gov. Quinn has long advocated."
Yes, it's unfortunate. But we'll ask again: Where was Quinn? What has he done to advance the term limits cause in the 20 years since "Eight is Enough" — also an election-year proposal — was spiked?
Where was Quinn, for that matter, while a second people-power initiative was dying from the thousand cuts inflicted by House Speaker Michael Madigan's band of assassins? That amendment, which would have taken the job of drawing legislative boundaries away from Madigan, was struck down in the same ruling as the term limits measure.
Later that day, the remap campaign withdrew its petitions.
Funny thing: When Quinn stepped up to replace the impeached Rod Blagojevich, his first order of business was to name an ethics task force to rid state government of corruption. Two of the panel's primary recommendations were term limits and independent redistricting.
Quinn didn't lift a finger to make either of those things happen.
He didn't join the fight when the League of Women Voters tried to get a fair map amendment on the ballot in 2010, either.
He kept his mouth shut while Madigan & Co. gerrymandered the districts following the 2010 U.S. Census. And then Quinn signed those maps into law. He owns them.
And those maps are Exhibit A in favor of term limits. The maps are so stacked that in more than half the districts, only one candidate will appear on this year's Nov. 4 ballot. Voters don't get to pick their representative. It's already been decided. That's why the idea of term limits has gained so much traction: It's the only way voters can throw the bums out.
We come to term limits as converts. We opposed term limits, but became convinced they were necessary after witnessing election after election for the legislature in which gerrymandering and concentrated political power robbed voters of any real choice.
In an October 2010 editorial headlined "The protection racket," we noted that "the state is $13 billion in the hole, this is supposed to be a watershed political year — yet no more than 20 of the 118 seats in the Illinois House are truly competitive. Even fewer Senate races are competitive."
Governor, we tried to join your cause.
Is it still your cause?
#77 Jul 2, 2014
"Illinois voters are tired of the same old gridlock in Springfield that annually fails to provide meaningful solutions to our state's problems. Too often, real action on vital subjects like improving our schools, reforming our unfair tax system and protecting citizens against crime and violence must yield to the re-election needs of political incumbents."
That was Quinn the candidate, arguing for term limits in a 1994 op-ed published in the Tribune. Quinn the governor — he's had five years now — has wasted the opportunity to promote the reforms he once demanded. It's disappointing.
His only contribution to the term limits debate lately has been to take a cheap political shot at his opponent after the people had a bad day in court. That's not remotely helpful. When did Quinn the reformer become Quinn the bystander?
#78 Jul 2, 2014
Quinn is a liar and certainly not a leader. He's a useless disgrace & he'll be thrown out of Springfield in November finally!
The deck is stacked against you whatever you try to do, whatever you try to fix. They've built a machine and an empire layers deep in corruption that can't be stopped. All you can do at this point is move out of state.
Well, to make up for it, the Trib has been loud about supporting Mitt Ruaner God bless the 1%.
Quinn needs to get out.
Quinn was never a reformer. He is a Chicago Democrat. Quinn's alleged reform credentials are nothing more than a bright and shining lie.
#79 Jul 2, 2014
Quinn signs same-day voter registration bill
By John Byrne
July 1, 2014
Gov. Pat Quinn today signed into law a measure allowing Illinois residents to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day this fall.
The governor has touted the relaxed registration rules for the Nov. 4 general election as making it easier for more people to be able to exercise a basic democratic right, while Republicans are concerned the move is an attempt by Democrats to increase their vote totals.
The measure limits same-day registration to selected sites within each election authority.
The legislation, which Quinn signed at Oak Park Village Hall, also expands the number of days and extends the hours for early voting. And it removes the provision that people taking part in early voting show a photo ID, such as a driver's license. The Tribune wrote about the bill on Monday.
It also allows students attending Illinois public universities to shift their residences from their hometowns to their school-based living quarters and vote on Election Day at select on-campus locations.
The legislation only puts these changes in place for this year's general election on Nov. 4, when Quinn will seek re-election against Republican challenger Bruce Rauner.
Rauner has said that while he isn't familiar with the technical aspects of the law, he supports increasing voter registration and turnout.
But some other Republicans have wondered whether the one-time aspect of the law indicated Democrats were more concerned with success this November than with changing public policy.
"It's so important that we understand that Democracy is a God-given gift that we have recieved," Quinn said. "It's important that we make sure that the voice of the people, every day people, is heard every day."
Quinn dismissed critics who contend the narrow time frame for the changes are aimed at driving Democrat voters to the polls, saying lawmakers frequently test programs to see how they work before deciding to make them permanent.
"This is certainly not a one time deal. We do not move backwards on election reforms," said sponsoring Sen. Don Harmon, D-Oak Park. "This is not at all uncommon for us to sunset a provision so that we have to return to respond to what we've learned in the field to make sure it works going forward."
#80 Jul 3, 2014
Quinn has always been the bystander...carrying Madigan's water (both of them) and managing the press to look like he is doing something...usually with the widows and orphans on the stage behind him while he tells everyone how hard, how very, very hard he has been working on one scam deal or another for "da' good people of Illinois".
Quinn turns out to be a poster boy for term limits and independent redistricting. Once he was elected into office and became a privileged incumbent for reelection his get up and go has git up and gone and his mouth has become sealed about effecting real reforms. As is true of all who once get into office he had lapsed into all the bad practices of patronage, deal making, bread and circuses, and political persiflage. This futility has finally made real the quandary "what if they held an election and no one deigned to vote. Thank goodness that Michael Shakman now has him in his sights.
#81 Jul 4, 2014
Emails subpoenaed in federal probe of Quinn anti-violence program
A federal grand jury has subpoenaed emails of five former state employees connected with Gov. Quinn’s discredited Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
The subpoena, issued May 13th, was released by Quinn’s office in response to a request from the Chicago Tribune, which first reported the feds were seeking the emails.
The subpoena asks for the emails of Barbara Shaw, Barbara King, Malcom Weems, Toni Irving and Reshma Desai.
Shaw formerly headed the anti-violence program that funneled money mostly to inner-city Chicago neighborhoods prior to the 2010 gubinatorial election.
Irving was a former deputy chief of staff for Quinn.
The governor's office issued a statement on Friday saying that Quinn has directed all state agencies to support law enforcement inquiries.
"We have taken the program’s mismanagement and oversight shortcomings extremely seriously," the statement said. "We have zero tolerance for mismanagement, fraud or abuse."
#82 Jul 4, 2014
The finger points right back to Quinn and all involved.
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