Another Quinn aide, Department of Corrections chief Michael Randle,
resigned Wednesday. Randle had been under fire for months for the
politically disastrous Meritorious Good Time early release program.
Quinn's political opponents, going back to Dan Hynes in the February
primary, used the MGT program as a hammer against the governor as he
Randle is the latest Quinn aide to leave the
administration and follows last month's loss of Jerry Stermer,
Quinn’s chief of staff. Both men left in the face of political
fallout, but how they left highlights the differences between them
and a political problem for Quinn.
John Jackson, a professor at Southern Illinois University and The
Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, said Stermer's relationship with
the governor made it easy for him to fall on his sword. Jackson
isn't sure about Randle.
"Jerry Stermer and Pat Quinn go way back. ... Whereas Director
Randle was brought in from the outside. They did not have that long
personal history, and probably that personal loyalty was different."
Jackson said that loyalty likely prompted Stermer to know what he
had to do. Stermer resigned a few days after it became public that
he sent political e-mails from his state computer. The governor said
he was going to reprimand Stermer but not fire him.
Jackson said the cause of the early release scandal is up for
debate, but the reason it has lasted so long is clearly because of
how Quinn manages his administration.
"He's always struck me as really a gentle and caring sort. He's a
very people-oriented person, and I think he has a hard time hurting
anybody. And certainly firing somebody that he brought here from
another state to head a major agency would not be something he would
enjoy. I think he's got real personal loyalties, but they are also a
political problem for him."
Quinn's political opponent this fall, Republican State Sen. Bill
Brady of Bloomington, is already trying to take advantage of the
situation. A statement from Brady spokeswoman Patty Schuh said the
Randle situation is more of the same from Quinn's administration.
"Michael Randle should have been fired long ago. Allowing the top
official responsible for one of Illinois' worst public safety
failures to simply depart state government without reprimand shows
the Quinn administration to be a nothing but a revolving door of
reckless ineptitude," the statement said.
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Jackson adds that had Randle resigned when the scandal broke, or
even after the Democratic primary, things would be much different.
"(The early release controversy) wouldn't have gone away
entirely; the Republicans would have seen to that. But it would have
mostly been over, and the story wouldn't have had legs. Now the
story has still legs and it's 60 days until the election."
Jackson said voters should get ready to see a lot of TV
commercials about Randle and the early release program.
Quinn's office and campaign have stayed mostly silent about
Randle's resignation. A statement from Quinn did not address any of
the political issues surrounding Randle.
It said simply: "I have accepted the resignation of Illinois
Department of Corrections Director Michael Randle, effective
September 17. I appreciate Director Randle's dedicated service to
the state of Illinois during these challenging times, and will name
his replacement shortly."
Randle's own resignation statement said that he planned to seek
Statehouse News; By BENJAMIN YOUNT]
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