Merit hiring in Illinois
Another day, and it's another outrage in state government.
State taxpayers have another reason to be angry with how their tax money is spent following an eye-opening news report in the Chicago Sun-Times.
The newspaper story reported on a $110,000 state prison official whose only apparent expertise for his job is a lengthy criminal record. The story goes into great detail about the background of 44-year-old Xadrian R. McCraven, but reveals very little about how he came to hold a series of public jobs despite an arrest record on charges that include arson, illegal gun possession and attempted robbery.
No one is taking credit for arranging McCraven's employment. Even if it's unclear just who arranged for him to take a spot on the public payroll, it's no great mystery how it happened.
Public employment in Illinois is supposed to be merit-based, not a result of political connections. But no one really believes that politics doesn't frequently play a key role in who ends up with high-paying state jobs.
What's interesting is that McCraven was dismissed last year from his job at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services for job-related misconduct. He filed a federal lawsuit to get his job back, but the lawsuit was dismissed.
Nonetheless, the Quinn administration rehired McCraven to avoid what it described as costly grievance procedures with McCraven and his union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Instead of being fired, McCraven accepted a 10-day suspension in exchange for six months of back pay. The settlement also arranged for McCraven to be transferred from his old DCFS job to a new job as a senior adviser to the parole department within the state's prison system.
Records show that McCraven made multiple campaign donations totaling $1,500. His name also showed up on a former Blagojevich administration database listing the names of thousands of politically connected candidates for jobs, transfer and promotions.
Records cited by the newspaper also show that McCraven is not shy about challenging adverse employment decisions. He once sued the city of Chicago for not hiring him as a police officer. That lawsuit was dismissed after the judge in the case cited a police department background check that found McCraven "to be a drug dealer, gang member and supplier of guns to other gang members."
Some people may question how someone with such a checkered background managed to gain lucrative employment in two different state agencies. That's an easy one to answer. Government in Illinois is the functional equivalent of an open sewer. What's worse is that it shows no sign of changing for the better any time soon.