Gov. Pat Quinn says he wasn’t involved in improper patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation, and he took steps to stop it once he learned about it. He’s being asked about it now because of a motion in federal court requesting a monitor to keep an eye on IDOT hiring, but the governor says he learned of the situation last year, when it was revealed by the Better Government Association, and it was news to him at the time.
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“I ordered the Illinois Department of Transportation to do a personnel audit, to make sure things were being complied with according to hiring procedures, and I expect them to do that and that’s what has to be done. I have zero tolerance for anything that doesn’t comply with the right hiring procedures,” he said on Thursday in Marion.
Under the 1990 Rutan decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, political hiring in Illinois state government is limited to top policy-making positions. IDOT supposedly created job descriptions that made positions appear to be policy-related so that applicants could be hired for political reasons, even though the jobs were for ordinary work that is supposed to be free of politics.
The motion, in the ongoing 1972 Shakman case that limited patronage in Cook County, also wants the judge to order those 200 IDOT workers un-hired, and the slots filled through the proper hiring procedure.