Senate Week in Review: Oct. 20-24, 2014 Print Friendly and PDF

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A federal judge sided with a longtime anti-patronage crusader, ruling that hiring practices at the state’s Department of Transportation have been so corrupted by political influence under Governor Pat Quinn and his predecessor that a federal monitor is now needed.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier ruled Oct. 22 that a hiring monitor must be appointed to ensure compliance with anti-patronage rules.


The request for federal intervention came from Michael Shakman, a longtime crusader against political hiring. Shakman sought the hiring monitor, arguing that the Quinn administration filled positions based on political ties, rather than job qualifications. A report by the state’s Executive Inspector General later confirmed much of what Shakman claimed.

Linked to governor's office

Political hiring soared under Quinn. In 2011 alone, his administration placed 104 persons in staff assistant positions exempt from anti-patronage rules. That is double the peak number hired under now-imprisoned former Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Quinn initially sought to blame former state Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider, who was forced to resign.

But, in August, Schneider said she and her staff received hiring recommendations directly from the Governor’s office and had to submit requests to approve hiring to the Governor’s office.

Read more about the patronage ruling

Medicare open enrollment begins

It’s once again time for Medicare participants to consider changes to their healthcare plans. The annual open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage and “Part D” prescription plans is now underway.

Also fast approaching is the open enrollment period for Marketplace insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), which is also commonly known as Obamacare.

Although both programs are federal, state legislators often receive questions during the enrollment periods and work to link constituents with the appropriate program administrators.

There is some good news for Illinois residents participating in the Part D prescription drug benefit – average premiums are lower than surrounding states and the number of plans to choose from is higher than any other state in the nation.

Read more about Medicare enrollment and Illinois

Regional Superintendents: We can help

Local school districts are facing curriculum and testing changes that put teachers and students under added pressure to meet new goals and Illinois’ regional superintendents want local school districts to know they can help them meet these new challenges at no cost to the local schools.

The Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents are offering new “Foundational Services” to school districts focusing on five key areas. These new services use federal funds formerly targeted to the No Child Left Behind initiative.

Read more about the regional superintendents' program