Merit hiring in Illinois

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.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on December 13, 2013 at 2:12 pm

Thanks for adding "high-paying state jobs".  The salary is indicative of the PSA (Public Service Administrator).  They are management, not the career front line employees.  They were there during the Thompson, Edgar, Ryan, Blago, and now Quinn administrations.  They have either a "campaign donation", family member, or "friend of a friend" connection.  Ever look at how many employees on the state transparency webpage have the same surname as Bill Cellini?  The problem that has developed is that these appointees supervise the career employees.  That generally means that the front line employees supervise themselves when they have a PSA like that.  The PSAs clamored to join the union because they had not had a raise for five years.  Now, Quinn's administration wants them back out of the union.   Quinn wants them back without union interference so he can replace them with his second term appointees. 

Pay to Play has operated throughout Illinois governmental history.  Gov. Olgivey stopped patronage for new hires.  Gov. Thompson tried to change it back to patronage; but the Rutan decision stopped it for the front line employees.  That was when the state employees decided to unionize.  They were fed up with the shake down.  Hiring, and promotions were controlled by the GOP.  The employees were both republican, and democrat; but they knew that they had to band together to protect their jobs from the increasing patronage.  The U.S. Supreme Court decision on Rutan vs. Illinois, and the union stopped the patronage except for the management level.  The patronage has been restricted to the PSAs, assistant directors, directors, and all the others in management since that time. 

Bulldogmojo wrote on December 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Another breaking news story of investigative journalism already published somewhere else. Way to put down the bourbon and google, News gazette