All patronage in Chicago and everywhere else in government must cease. Now. No excuses. No Loopholes. No exceptions.
The latest from the Chicago Sun-Times about wannabe wunderkind Todd Stroger:
Patronage workers with the Cook County Forest Preserve District are seeing more green these days — in their paychecks.
With people everywhere facing tough financial times, the 28 forest preserve patronage workers who’ve been on the payroll since 2006 all got hefty raises in the following two years, an analysis by the Chicago Sun-Times and the Better Government Association has found. They’re among 38 forest preserve workers who are exempt from the Shakman court order that bans political hiring in city and county government.
On average, the exempt employees were paid $98,071 last year. Nine of them saw their salaries increase 19 percent or more between 2006 and 2008.
Most of the Shakman-exempt employees — 24 in all — have contributed to the campaign funds of Cook County Board President Todd Stroger; his late father, former board President John Stroger; or the 8th Ward Regular Democratic Organization that John Stroger controlled.
The Strogers and the party organization have gotten a total of $49,870 in campaign contributions from the exempt employees since the mid-1990s. The biggest contributor: Deputy Comptroller Alvin Lee ($12,100), followed by district police chief Richard Waszak ($8,050).
That’s their right, says district spokesman Steve Mayberry, who says Todd Stroger never has solicited forest preserve employees for campaign cash.
“It is the First Amendment right of all private citizens … to make political contributions to whomever they please,” says Mayberry, himself a Shakman-exempt employee who has given $3,905 to Stroger organizations.
So this is a First Amendment issue? Let me exercise my First Amendment rights: This is an abuse. It smells bad because it is bad.
A friend in Chicago tells me if you work for the city, you vote Democratic. If you don’t vote Democratic, you won’t work for the city for long.
This has to stop.
Sorry, but I do not consider many Chicago Democrats to be true Democrats. They are people doing favors for a select group with public money. And that’s wrong.
My friends who defend Todd Stroger will tell me, “That’s just the way it is. You don’t understand how things work.”
No, I don’t understand. Patronage makes for extremely expensive government. It’s a horribly inefficient way to run any governmental body.
And it must stop.
I strongly urge the State Legislature to close these loopholes that allow for “Shakman-exempt employees.”