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Quinn wants new review of IDOT hiring

September 5, 2014 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday that he’ll ask the Illinois Department of Transportation’s secretary for a new review of hiring connected to a position that’s been the subject of an investigative report and federal lawsuit.

The state’s Office of the Executive Inspector General reported last month that IDOT sidestepped anti-patronage rules over the past decade and improperly hired 255 mid-level “staff assistant” positions. The day before the report was released, IDOT’s secretary said it would lay off the remaining 58 people still in the job and abolish the title.

However, questions remained whether anyone hired as a staff assistant may still work in other administration jobs, as the report, which had redacted names, didn’t note it and officials with IDOT and Quinn’s office weren’t immediately able to provide further information Friday.

“I’ll ask the secretary to review that to determine if anyone who had the title in the past went and got another position,” Quinn told reporters Friday.

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For months, Quinn has taken heat for IDOT hiring. In April, an anti-patronage attorney filed a federal lawsuit calling for an investigation. Last month’s OEIG report was based on a three-year probe of hiring practices.

Quinn has said he “acted promptly” to fix problems, but Republican challenger Bruce Rauner has blasted him for it.

“Gov. Quinn does not need to do another review, he needs to take action and follow through on his word,” Rauner told reporters Friday after stopping at a credit union to deposit roughly $1 million aimed at giving loans to small African-American businesses.

said he agreed with IDOT Acting Secretary Erica Borggren’s decision to abolish the title. The OEIG report also said investigators found no evidence that Quinn was aware of impropriety, but former IDOT Secretary Ann Schneider, who resigned in June, said recommendations for hires came from Quinn’s office.

The report said improper hiring of staff assistants dated back to 2003 under now imprisoned ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but noted the number increased under Quinn.

Under a court order called “Rutan,” most government jobs have to be filled through merit, not political reasons. But the decree allows a governor to hire political loyalists for positions involving policy making, public statements or confidential information.

The report found the 255 people who were hired — often with family or political clout connections — were found mowing grass, answering phones and other jobs that should’ve been open to any applicant. The report also said that in many instances, those employees were then transferred into jobs covered by the hiring rules.

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Follow Sophia Tareen at http://twitter.com/sophiatareen.