He brought along aides from the lieutenant governor's office,
recruited old friends and called on people who worked for him during
his single term as state treasurer. So far, Quinn has brought in
only a couple of relative strangers.
This strategy allowed the new governor to start work quickly under
incredibly challenging circumstances and to be certain of the
loyalties of key aides. But it also raises questions: Do the members
of Team Quinn have the experience to tackle the state's many
problems? Do they have the independence to tell their boss when he's
about to make a mistake?
He picked a 29-year-old with no background in law enforcement or
management to oversee the troubled Illinois State Police. And the
Democrat filled the key post of chief of staff with the head of the
advocacy group Voices for Illinois Children -- someone who
understands state government but certainly isn't a Springfield
insider who knows where all the bodies are buried.
Quinn says he has compiled a list of promising job candidates he has
met over the years and is calling on them to fill key jobs. So far,
his choices include relatively few minorities and some aides to
ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was ousted from office in January.
"There's going to be a lot of people brought into government ... and
they're going to be individuals of high character and ability,"
Quinn said in a recent interview with The Associated Press. "They
may not be, quote, political -- the usual suspects perhaps -- but I
think voters are looking for fresh air in our government.
Since taking office Jan. 29 after Blagojevich's impeachment, Quinn
has made about 20 major staffing decisions, from the person who
handles his daily schedule to the head of the Department of
Fifteen of the people he hired have previously worked for him,
either in the lieutenant governor's office or the treasurer's
office. Others are longtime friends or, in the case of new
Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig, a state legislator Quinn has
known for years. Only two could be considered unfamiliar to Quinn:
Theodore Chung, general counsel, and Jonathon Monken, state police
"I have a list of people right now who I think are excellent
leaders, men and women of high ideals, excellent enthusiasm," Quinn
said. "If there is a need for someone to fulfill a job, then I refer
to my list and call upon them."
So far, Quinn has given most of the top jobs to white men.
of his hires are women, racial minorities or both. They include
Quinn's general counsel and policy director, but most are in
second-tier jobs such as deputy chief of staff or scheduler.
The Illinois Association of Minorities in Government calls it "a
huge concern" that women and minorities haven't been more prominent
among Quinn's appointments.
"Minorities across this state have a lot of experience, and we think
that experience should be reflected in his administration," said
Jonathan Lackland, the association's executive director.
"Those are individuals who can come in and help him see things
Quinn sounded pained by the criticism.
"Well, I don't know how they can say that if they take a look at
the people I've brought in and intend to bring in," he said.
[to top of second column]
Despite his fierce criticism of Blagojevich, Quinn is making use
of his predecessor's personnel.
Jack Lavin, head of the Department of Commerce and Economic
Opportunity under Blagojevich, has been named chief operating
officer under Quinn. Another DCEO executive under Blagojevich has
been promoted to run the agency, and most other agencies are still
being run by the people Blagojevich appointed.
Quinn is also taking advice from two of the architects of the
Blagojevich budgets that helped destroy the state's financial
health. John Filan, Blagojevich's former budget director, is a
longtime Quinn friend who is advising the new governor. And
Blagojevich's last budget director, Ginger Ostro, has kept her job
He defended using Blagojevich's budget team, saying they weren't
the ones setting policy. "I can't criticize someone who may be
working on the budget and maybe the boss made policy decisions I
strongly disagreed with," Quinn said.
Quinn is vague on how he decides when it's appropriate to hold
onto someone from the administration of his disgraced predecessor.
"I'm going to evaluate each person in a key spot. If I find them
someone who needs to be replaced, that will happen," Quinn said.
"If a person is honest and a person of integrity and they're doing
their job, I think those are public servants."
Quinn has a reputation for being a longtime advocate for military
personnel and their families. Now he's appointed two 29-year-old
veterans with little government experience to run agencies -- state
police and veterans' affairs. He explains his decision by pointing
to their leadership in the military and their willingness to serve
The lawmakers responsible for reviewing appointments to state
agencies generally give Quinn high marks.
Sen. Antonio Munoz, chairman of the Committee on Executive
Appointments, says his only concern is that Monken lacks the
necessary experience to run the state police. Otherwise, Quinn's
appointees seem to be "really nice," the Chicago Democrat said.
Sen. Dan Rutherford, a Republican on the same committee, said
Quinn deserves to have the Cabinet he wants unless someone is
clearly unsuited for the job. So far, the appointees seem smart and
qualified, he said.
Rutherford doesn't fault Quinn for turning to familiar faces as
he tries to build an administration on the fly.
"I guess if I were in that situation, I would do somewhat the
same," he said.
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