A story last week identified some of the dangerous prisoners Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration is considering shipping out of the state when he closes the supermax prison in Tamms.
Information identifying those particular inmates came from within the prison. And, top brass at the Illinois Department of Corrections really don’t like whistleblowers.
For example, IDOC officials recently pursued two employees who had provided information to The Associated Press regarding the agency’s ill-fated early prisoner release program. The two whistleblowers retired before they could be purged by the secretive agency.
Hoping to tamp down last week’s news about outsourcing prisoners, Jerry Buscher, executive chief at IDOC, sent a letter to the Lee Springfield Bureau, suggesting that if the names of the inmates being considered for out-of-state placement were printed, guards and inmates could be in danger.
“If you proceed to disclose any information in your possession on this subject beyond yourself, the department will view your actions as attempting to promote disorder within the prison system,” Buscher wrote.
The union representing guards and other prison employees, however, had no problem with the publication of the inmates’ names.
Apparently, IDOC hasn’t gotten the memo from Quinn about how he favors open and transparent government.
The department also apparently hasn’t caught wind that Quinn is taking a lot of heat for laying off state workers and not paying raises to rank-and-file employees.
Between 2011 and 2012, Buscher received an $8,500-a-year raise.
That ought to sit well with those facing the prospect of unemployment.
Apparently, it is OK for government to do some outsourcing, but not the private sector.
On the same week we reported the Quinn administration was considering a plan to outsource some Tamms prisoners to other states, the governor traveled to Freeport to urge Congress to approve a law encouraging companies to not outsource jobs overseas.
The Quinn effect
When state Treasurer Dan Rutherford endorsed Republican Rodney Davis last week, it raised an interesting point on the campaign trail for Davis’ opponent in the 13th Congressional District.
While Davis has access to an ample number of big-name GOP honchos to campaign with him, who is Democrat David Gill going to hit the trail with?
Throughout much of the 13th — which runs from Champaign to the Metro East and includes all or parts of Decatur, Bloomington and Springfield —Quinn’s name is mud. You can probably check him off the list as someone Gill would want to share a stage with.
Questions also might be raised if U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin were to get seriously active on the campaign trail for Gill. Durbin supported Gill’s opponent, Matt Goetten, in the March primary.
Perhaps Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon could play her banjo at Gill’s next campaign stop.
It’s not every day that an elected official in Illinois praises a newspaper. Most of the time, they are cursing us ink-stained wretches.
On Tuesday, however, Simon will declare it “The Onion Day” in Illinois in honor of “The Onion,” a humorous-to-some newspaper that is moving its operations from New York to Chicago.
The Carbondale Democrat is expected to play a song on her banjo dedicated to the newspaper at a fundraiser for the Chicago-based Better Government Association.
Wonder if she’d ever sing a song about a real newspaper?
It looks like the Illinois House will take up pension reform when members return to deal with the possible expulsion of indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago.
House Speaker Michael Madigan reportedly told union officials last week that a pension overhaul approved by the Senate in May could be called for a vote Aug. 17.
Democrats in the Senate have called on House leaders to act on legislation that would reduce the retirement benefits of state workers and members of the General Assembly, but not school teachers.
Quinn, too, wants to see action.
Statehouse observers, however, say it may all be for naught. The Senate bill has an immediate effective date, meaning it would need a two-thirds majority for passage.
In other words, Madigan may want to call the measure for a vote to prove that a more comprehensive plan, including teacher pensions, is the right route to go.
KURT ERICKSON heads Lee Enterprises’ Springfield Bureau, which serves The Southern Illinoisan and other Lee newspapers; firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217-782-4043.