Does political favoritism count when it comes to landing a well-paid state job? Are you kidding?
The state of Illinois isn't a national disgrace just because it's the home of big scandals — including having consecutive governors going to prison. It also has pervasive little scandals.
And like their larger counterparts, these mini-scandals speak volumes. Consider the Illinois Department of Corrections, where officials are falling all over themselves trying to explain how a former gang member was hired to fill a six-figure job as a "senior adviser" to the chief of parole.
Sounds awful. But it gets worse.
Bryan Gleckler, the chief of staff to prison chief Salvador Godinez, signed off on the June 2013 hiring of Xadrian McCraven after the department's internal investigators deemed that McCraven was "not eligible" for the job by virtue of his tainted personal history.
McCraven came to DOC after he was hired and then fired by the state's child services department. He was dismissed on a variety of grounds, including falsifying his job application. But the state ultimately relented on the dismissal and agreed to put him back on the payroll. Child services didn't want him, so state officials looked for a job elsewhere, ultimately settling on the Corrections Department.
McCraven's background made him a curious hire. He has been affiliated with the Young Latino Organization Disciples and had a record of "at least" 24 arrests. Obviously, this was not a merit hire, so what else could it be? Political connections, perhaps? Perish the thought, say Quinn administration officials.
But the record indicates McCraven was among a list of favored favor-seekers during the Blagojevich administration, and apparently that special status continued under Gov. Pat Quinn.
McCraven's employment wasn't a problem for the Quinn administration until it became public. Now DOC officials are trying to fire him while studiously denying any suggestion that favoritism was involved in hiring him for an $111,432-a-year position for which there is no reason to believe he was ever qualified.
What happened here is indefensible. But it's just more of the same. Until voters demand a change, it'll be business as usual.