Another ex-legislator makes it back on the public payroll
So far, six of the 12 Democratic lame ducks from 2010 have gone to work in the Quinn administration.
Politicians count on the public's fading memory, and, lucky for them, people do forget.
That's what Gov. Pat Quinn is counting on as he continues to reward defeated former Democratic legislators who voted in January 2011 for post-election personal and corporate state income tax increases.
On Wednesday, Quinn handed out another lucrative public job, this time to former state Rep. Bob Flider of Mt. Zion. Assuming he's confirmed by the Senate, Flider is scheduled to become the next director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Not only will Flider earn substantially more as a state department head than he received as a legislator, but the appointment guarantees that Flider's public pension benefits will be based on that higher executive department salary.
Make no mistake about it, this appointment represents a financial windfall — both now and in the future — for this eight-year veteran of the Illinois House who was defeated in November 2010.
While running for re-election, Flider told voters that he was adamantly opposed to the state income tax increases Quinn was attempting to push through the Legislature. According to Capitol Fax, Flider described the tax hikes as "the absolute last thing we need to be doing."
But after the election, Flider and a handful of other defeated Democratic legislators changed their tunes. They voted yes and suddenly started getting job offers from Quinn.
One beneficiary of Quinn's largesse, former state Rep. Careen Gordon, drew substantial media scrutiny because she conceded speaking with Quinn about both her impending vote and her desire for a job in his administration.
Of course, Quinn, Gordon and all the other Quinn appointees deny there was any quid pro quo. The denials are difficult, bordering on impossible, to swallow.
So far, six of the 12 Democratic lame ducks are back on the public payroll or soon will be.
What's more, these appointees are not exactly impressive.
One, former state Rep. Mike Smith, didn't even meet the stated qualifications for his position on the Educational Labor Relations Board.
Quinn ultimately withdrew Gordon's appointment to the state's Prisoner Review Board because the Illinois Senate was reluctant to confirm her. He found her a job elsewhere in his administration.
As for Flider, he has no background in agriculture. He's a former news reporter who was elected mayor of Mount Zion before winning election to the House.
"Bob has lived most of his life in a rural area and represented a rural district as a state legislator, which makes him very familiar with issues important to farmers," said Duane Noland, president of the Illinois Electric Cooperative.
That's faint praise. A lot of people live in a rural area.
But this appointment has little to do with merit and much to do with payback for services rendered. In that respect, it's completely consistent with this state's sorry political tradition.