Just say no to Quinn nominee

Just say no to Quinn nominee

Illinois needs first-rate people to run its important state agencies, not marginal characters with ethical clouds swirling around them.

Party loyalty in Springfield is such that it's routine for senators in the majority party to confirm marginal nominees if the nomination is made by a governor of the same party.

Let's hope that sorry tradition of indifferent legislative oversight is ignored for Arthur Bishop, Gov. Pat Quinn's choice to lead the Department of Children and Family Services.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that Bishop pleaded guilty in the early 1990s to a reduced charge of misdemeanor theft stemming from an allegation that he swindled clients of a social agency where he worked out of more than $9,000.

Equally disturbing, when Bishop was sued in a child paternity case, he denied knowing anything about the child. It turns out that he never paid a dime to support her until the child's mother sued him for child support and insurance coverage when his daughter was in her mid-teens.

It's hard to know what possessed Gov. Quinn to nominate such a marginal character to head this important, but deeply troubled, state agency. But it sends a message of disinterest, if not disdain, for both the agency's work and for public opinion.

Don't the people of Illinois deserve better than a nominee with such a checkered background? It's bad enough that Bishop has held jobs high up in state government — he headed the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice — but to put him in charge of DCFS is beyond the pale.

Bishop adamantly denied that he was involved in any theft while he worked at the Chicago-based mental health center, stating that he pleaded guilty to a reduced misdemeanor charge because he was tired of fighting the charge. He insisted he was the victim of trumped-up charges levied by a hostile boss.

But the allegations are serious — that he told clients of the center that he could help them get their driver's licenses back if they made payments to him. The scheme was allegedly uncovered when one of the clients complained to Bishop's superior that he had been instructed to write a check directly to Bishop, not the center.

The center actually had no role in helping clients secure driving privileges. After firing Bishop, the center was required to reimburse the clients for the money they allegedly paid to Bishop.

As bad as that is, Bishop's abandonment of his daughter is even worse. DCFS is supposed to look out for the welfare of children. Bishop ignored the welfare of his own daughter.

This appointment, however, says less about Bishop than it says about Quinn's judgment and the willingness of the Illinois Senate to take its oversight duties seriously. Quinn, a Democrat, has failed his test; people should hope members of the Democratic-controlled Senate, including local state Sen. Mike Frerichs, do better.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion

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Sid Saltfork wrote on February 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm

So the local, partisan newspaper inserts Mike Frerich's name into it's "opinion" while leaving other senators names out.  Where was the outrage toward local senators of both parties when Gov. George Ryan was selling CDLs that resulted in the deaths of innocent children?  Go after the corruption in both parties; and leave the political partisanship out of it.  Both parties have recent governors who were convicted of corruption.  This Cubs versus Cards political partisanship only diverts the voters' attention from Illinois' historical problem of Corruption.  Maybe, that was the intent of the one and only local newspaper though?  

Skepticity wrote on February 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm

We have had far too many such appointments under administration of both parties. 

It is what Tribune writer John Kass refers to as the "Combine."

In case you or other readers are unfamiliar with this concept, here is a 2008 article summarizing the Combine:

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2008-03-23/news/0803220254_1_illinois...

 

I read the News-Gazette editorial as opposing another high level appointment of someone who admitted to past fraud in making a plea bargain that saved him from a felony conviction.

It is true that the Senate is controlled by Democrats, and that Sen. Frerichs is a Democrat, as is Governor Quinn. 

However, I read the N-G editorial as making a request from the local paper to the local state senator to exercise oversight,  and to do better than Governor Quinn by not confirming Arthur Bishop as head of DCFS. 

I acknowledge that there are time in which your views of partisanship by the N-G are upheld (after all, it is in the opinion section), but this instance seems more directed at asking to prevent another appointment of a high ranking Illinois state official who has already demonstrated corruption. 

In this instance I did not see it as criticism of Senator Frerichs or the Illinois Senate.  That may be forthcoming if Arthur Bishop is confirmed.