Sunday, July 16, 2006

"Doing things right," take three


As far as we can tell, today's Chicago Tribune article by John Chase and Rick Pearson describes at least the third "system" put in place by the Rod Blagojevich administration to follow the law on hiring decisions.

The first was described by the governor himself in an October 2005 article in the Chicago Tribune.

Blagojevich said that in the weeks after he won election but before he took office in January 2003, he and his staff consulted with numerous lawyers and former Gov. James Thompson, who headed his transition team, about the best way to make hiring decisions. Blagojevich promised to reform state government following the scandal-scarred administration of George Ryan, who is currently on trial.

"I think, in many ways, I was fortunate enough to be governor in the wake of the previous administration, Gov. Ryan's administration. As we were building our administration, we were mindful of some of the things that happened before, some of the structures that were not in place," he said. "And as we constructed our administration, we were determined to make sure we built in systems that could make sure that we protect the taxpayers' money and that we do the best job we possibly can to make sure that people work, work honestly and do the people's business to the best of their ability."

He said that his administration stressed that qualifications were key in all state employees who have been hired since he became governor in January 2003. "Qualifications. All the time. Again, the decisions that are made when it comes to who gets hired in different places, those decisions are made through a whole system that we have established," he said.
Then, the Sun-Times told us a couple of months ago that the first system was scrapped once federal prosecutors started investigating. The second system went into place in January of this year.

Shortly after federal investigators launched a probe into Gov. Blagojevich's hiring practices, his administration overhauled the way it awards state jobs, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The changes, detailed in documents obtained by the newspaper, drastically scaled back the hiring duties of the governor's personnel office and chief of staff. They took effect in January of this year -- about two months after the feds peppered the governor's office and three state agencies with subpoenas for job placement records.
Well, there's another system about to debut, according to today's Tribune.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich's top attorney has ordered state agency directors to stop taking requests for politically connected job applicants and said a new system was being established to ensure that such clout requests would be "processed and treated like any other application."

The order from William J. Quinlan, Blagojevich's general counsel, was obtained by the Tribune on Friday. It comes amid a federal investigation into what U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald has called "allegations of endemic hiring fraud" within the governor's administration that has "implicated multiple state agencies" and involves "a number of credible witnesses."
I don't think Patrick Fitzgerald is being fooled by the shuffling organizational charts and new "systems." It looks like it is "all systems go" for a series of indictments starting soon.

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