When it comes to political corruption and double dealing, what sets Illinois and Chicago apart is often the sheer brazenness and audacity of our political operators.
There’s Chicago alderman Ed Burke, for example, whose law firm won millions of dollars in tax refunds for wealthy clients, costing the city treasury $3.6 million since 2003.
There’s Rita Crudwell, the former treasurer of Dixon, Ill., who diverted $53 million in city money for her own use for more than 20 years without anyone noticing.
And then there’s former Chicago alderman William Beavers, who proclaimed himself a “hero” when he was sentenced in September to six months in prison and a $10,000 fine for tax evasion.
Now comes word a political friend of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan was given a $70,000 a year state supervisor’s job created only after he interviewed for it, resembles the duties of his boss and currently has no one to supervise, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
While not directly hiring the man himself, it seems Madigan simply made a helpful suggestion:
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown confirmed the speaker "passed along" Ward's resume to state officials.
The employee in question, Patrick Ward, was also involved in last year’s Metra scandal:
During hearings last summer into a scandal at Chicago's Metra transit agency, [Ward] claimed he was fired after resisting a recommendation by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan to hike the pay of a Metra employee who had raised campaign money for the powerful lawmaker.
Which makes me realize that I went into the wrong end of the politics game. With my good looks, street smarts and ability to do a job with no responsibilities for $70,000 a year, I’m sure I could have proved useful to some politician looking to give out goodies.
After all, it’s not like it would have to be done in secret or anything.