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Opinion

Another view: Silence on patronage jobs is deafening

Unqualified? Unreasonable salary expectations? You’re hired in Illinois

You are a government worker making $11,000 as a clerk in Washington Park. You want to make more.

You could go to school and improve your job skills, or you could call your political patron, state Sen. James Clayborne, D-East St. Louis, and demand a state job.

When the $55,000 state offer comes, even though you have none of the qualifications, you double down on your weak hand and ask for $75,000. The Illinois Department of Transportation guy doing the hiring writes: “I don’t trust this guy at all.”

Unqualified. Demanding. Untrustworthy. The political juice is so strong with this one you’d think he was one of Clayborne’s female friends getting a state job. Plus Mr. Untrustworthy is hired to buy land for the state – no possibility of corruption there, right?

Three more instances of Clayborne pushing people on IDOT came as the result of an investigation ordered by a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit to expose Illinois patronage hiring at IDOT. Clerks became engineers. Cellphone salesmen became emergency hires. Required competition for jobs was quashed.

State Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, did the same thing, dumping his intern on IDOT. “Her résumé does not reflect qualifications to fulfill the stated duties of the staff assistant position description,” the report said.

And when both Clayborne and Hoffman were called for comment on creating patronage jobs where none should exist, neither thought the public deserved any answers or denials. Silence, just like we get on any issue from cursive handwriting to where they stand on a balanced state budget.

Rod Blagojevich was pretty open about his view on patronage hires and power politics, even trying to sell Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. But it appears “the reformer” administration of Gov. Pat Quinn raised it to a fine art, with 70 IDOT jobs going to the politically connected.

IDOT is supposed to be engineers building transportation networks and improving safety on them. Giving some village clerk a jackpot job buying land with tax dollars is not supposed to be in the equation.

Gov. Bruce Rauner cleaned out a bunch of the IDOT patronage hires, but 36 improperly hired folks remain and are protected by unions. Here’s hoping this lawsuit keeps creating a harsh glare that sends at least some cockroaches scurrying.

We’re starting to think some cockroaches could survive a nuclear disaster, or re-election.

Belleville News-Democrat

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