Skip to comments.Cadre of GOP insiders getting big salaries at Illinois tollway
Posted on 10/05/2018 8:02:43 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
In less than two years, the Illinois tollway has hired six Republican insiders for high-level jobs that collectively pay nearly $916,000 a year, including a former elected official, political operatives and the relative of a state GOP leader.
That troubles some government watchdogs who say they are concerned about favoritism in an agency with a history of patronage. Tollway officials said the agency is staffed with qualified professionals.
"More and more the Illinois tollway is becoming the 'Who's Who' of Republican political hires," said Illinois Campaign for Political Reform Chairwoman Susan Garrett, a former Democratic state senator.
Tollway spokesman Dan Rozek said the agency's "executive leadership team is almost entirely comprised of staff from previous administrations." He said nine of 13 top executives were employed before the administration of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who appoints tollway board members.
Among recent hires is Executive Director Elizabeth Gorman, a former Republican Cook County commissioner. Gorman won unanimous board approval within days of the surprise exit of Executive Director Greg Bedalov in February.
Her annual salary is $215,000. Bedalov was paid $186,000, and his predecessor Kristi Lafleur made $189,900. The Illinois Department of Transportation secretary is paid $150,000.
"She's got the ability to work with people in the private and public sectors, she understands transportation, and frankly she's worth every cent we pay her," tollway Chairman Robert Schillerstrom, a Republican and former DuPage County chairman said of Gorman, a former director of state and local government at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Gorman, of Orland Park, started the job March 16. On April 5, she put another South suburban Republican, Susan Gowen, on her executive staff.
Gowen, former Rich Township Republican Organization chairwoman, was named acting chief of administration in May after her predecessor left suddenly and is paid $170,560 a year.
"Her background and knowledge of human resources has been and will continue to be a tremendous asset to our team," Gorman said of Gowen, who previously was an office manager for former Republican Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka's office.
Other high-level hires with GOP ties:
Chief Operating Officer Kevin Artl started his tollway job Dec. 16, 2016, and is paid $169,900 a year. Artl was former Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk's campaign manager and political director and chief of policy for the Illinois House Republican Organization, whose leader now is Rep. Jim Durkin of Western Springs.
Artl "has extensive administrative and public policy experience," Rozek said, noting he also was the former Amtrak government affairs director.
Laura Durkin, the sister-in-law of Jim Durkin, was hired as general manager of engineering April 17, 2017, and is paid $84,016 a year. Her last job as an office furniture sales executive was in 2001.
She has "extensive experience in contract management, including activities related to all aspects of project phasing from planning, architectural design and construction," tollway officials said in February.
Phillip Rodriguez started at the tollway as deputy chief of staff on July 24, 2017, and was paid $138,000 a year. He had worked as Rauner's deputy chief of staff for public engagement, as former Republican Comptroller Leslie Munger's deputy chief of staff and campaign manager, and as public affairs director for Topinka.
Rozek said Rodriguez, who has "extensive management and government experience," had resigned as of last week.
Communications chief Richard Bossert -- a former Illinois House Republican deputy chief of staff and director of communications, and Illinois Department of Central Management Services communications director -- was hired by Gorman May 15 and makes $138,500 a year. He replaced the former chief of communications who left suddenly in the spring.
All six positions are Rutan-exempt, meaning it's allowable to hire someone with political affiliations. The term stems from a lawsuit filed against former Republican Gov. James Thompson over political hiring.
The tollway has a history of hiring and awarding contracts to political insiders under Democratic and Republican governors. Former Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich, imprisoned on corruption charges, was charged with strong-arming a construction company for donations and taking contributions from a contractor.
State Rep. Jeanne Ives, a conservative Republican from Wheaton, has criticized the hiring of Gorman and Durkin.
Of the other staffers, Ives said it's reasonable for leadership to want "people who are aligned with you politically and you see eye-to-eye with.
But it has to be disappointing to folks who've worked at the tollway a long time and have more institutional knowledge not to be given the opportunity."
State Sen. Laura Murphy, a Des Plaines Democrat, prompted a July hearing on tollway procurement irregularities.
"I've been pushing for transparency and accountability at the tollway for months. This only further proves that we need it, and fast."
Rozek said the new staff members "have brought a wealth of knowledge to the tollway which has been delivering the $14 billion Move Illinois program on time and on budget with new innovations, customer service enhancements and cost savings."
Trash men in Chicago make that much
Crook County has Crooks?
Is this the same roadway I just read about where they are proposing spending BILLIONS of $$ to install charging strips INTO the roadway so electric (coal powered) cars can charge while driving along it w/o stopping?
This goes on everywhere. My town recycles its corrupt Democrat town council people into paid jobs running every agency.
I’d bet these crooks show up once a month for an hour or so and that’s it.
This is what most people outside of Illinois fail to understand. They believe the rot of the state is due to the Democrats who control Chicago and Cook County. But the Republicans who control most of the local government outside of Cook County are just as corrupt and equal guilty.
The two parties together along with their silent partner (the Chicago Outfit) make up what is referred to as the Illinois Combine that controls the state and is busy driving it off a cliff while they all grab what they can with two hands.
It’s the Chicago way.
I don’t care what party they are affiliated with. If they are corrupt prosecute them. That is the only way to stop this.
There are 6 guys making collectively around $900,000. Some are management making around $200,000. And some are making under $100,000. The reality is that we have a state totally controlled by the democrats and 6 republicans get a job, and this is what the press talks about. We have gym teachers retiring making $150,000. We have superintendents making $300,000 all over. The press could care less. But if a republican gets a job that is a crises.
Now I wish the state did not have a toll way at all. Its a bureaucracy that should not exist. But the crime of this story is that it ignores tens of thousands of democrats bleeding a state, county, city of Chicago by billions while 6 republicans get a job and nobody sees a problem.
The Combine has controlled Illinois for decades - they decide who is running for what political office and who is going to win. The combine controls everything including whose political sign you can put in your front yard. People who went against the combine were visited by the building inspector, local zoning office, etc. Anyone who thinks they can fight the combine should talk to Rod Blagojevich...
If Demrat insiders were in these positions there’d be nary a peep front any Shitcongo fakenews rags... Glad GOP peeps has them!!
You get it.
That’s better than we pay congress-critters...
“”Among recent hires is Executive Director Elizabeth Gorman, a former Republican Cook County commissioner. Gorman won unanimous board approval within days of the surprise exit of Executive Director Greg Bedalov in February.
Her annual salary is $215,000. Bedalov was paid $186,000, and his predecessor Kristi Lafleur made $189,900””
Corrupt Republicans? Well did you evah?
“That troubles some government watchdogs who say they are concerned about favoritism in an agency with a history of patronage. “
The entire state is a hive of patronage pukes.
I dont care what party they are affiliated with. If they are corrupt prosecute them. That is the only way to stop this
The problem with the tollway is what law do you think they are breaking. The way that authority was constructed, its legalized theft from people who have no escape.
The toll authority has always been corrupt. Back when there were money-takers they earned something like 3X what they’d get at McDonalds doing the same job.
“That troubles some government watchdogs who say they are concerned about favoritism in an agency with a history of patronage.”
The entire state is a hive of patronage pukes.
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