Republican governor candidate Bruce Rauner wants everyone hired under patronage rules at the Illinois Department of Transportation but given non-patronage work to be fired. IDOT announced on Friday that of the 245 people hired as “staff assistants” at IDOT since 2002, 173 still work for the state, 161 of them at IDOT. Staff assistants were supposed to do policy-setting work that was exempt from anti-patronage rules, but the inspector general determined that they were doing routine work and should not have been hired for political reasons.
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The Quinn Administration says the 58 who currently hold the staff assistant title will be fired as of the end of this month, but Rauner said today (Monday) that the rest are being protected because they’re important political people for the governor. “Pat Quinn is not the folksy, bumbling fool he’d like us to think he is. He knows what he’s doing. He knows what he’s done,” Rauner said at a press conference in Chicago. Paul Vallas, Quinn’s lieutenant governor running mate, says the new IDOT secretary, Erica Borggren, isn’t finished cleaning up the department. “She has been given a mandate by the governor to do whatever needs to be done to address whatever issues still remain [at] IDOT,” he said.
The Quinn campaign says these workers did nothing wrong, their work is fine, and many of them have been hired at non-exempt positions for which they are qualified.