Help Wanted: Crooks Need Not Apply

Quinn hasn't filled state board jobs

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    You could have one of these seats.

    If you ever had a hankerin' to serve on one of Illinois' more than 300 state boards, your time is now. 

    Governor Quinn's office set up a web site in April through which you can nominate yourself to a board seat -- many of which have been empty for so long, they're practically decorated with cobwebs and tumbleweeds.

    About two-thirds of the state's boards and commissions -- like the  Medical Disciplinary Board or the powerful Illinois Commerce Commission -- have vacancies. Some have members serving under expired terms, but other have simply no members at all, an AP investigation has found.

    The Banking Board, for example, has two members and 15 vacancies and hasn't met since 2003 -- and much of the blame has been laid at the feet of Rod Blagojevich.

    "My predecessor after a while just decided not to appoint anybody," Gov. Pat Quinn told AP. Despite the web site, Quinn has been slow to fill positions, too.

    The Medical Displinary Board has only six of its 11 seats filled; the Commission on the Elimination of Poverty only has half its positions filled and has never met; and the Downstate Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, formed six years ago, doesn't have a single member and probably never will.

    State boards and commissions - especially those that pay their members - have often been political plums awarded to friends by  governors. Blagojevich promised to reform the state's boards and commissions when he came into office, but left accused of trading board positions for campaign contributions.

    Quinn, like his predecessor, vows to vet board positions more carefully than in the past, and pledges to be "quite aggressive" in making appointments in the next 90 days.

    So go ahead, nominate yourself.

    The good news is that Quinn isn't likely to dip his hand in your wallet if you've got your eye on a seat somewhere.

    The bad news is that, unlike in the past, you'll probably need some expertise in the board's subject area.

    Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.