Avoiding Veterans’ Preference

Page 1 of the September 9, 2004, Office of the Executive Inspector General’s report signed by Z. Scott and Deborah L. Steiner should send veterans off the wall.

The hiring folks for Governor Rod Blagojevich deliberately manipulated the civil service rules to make sure that the Veterans’ Preference laws would mean nothing.

“This task
(the manipulation “of titles, credentials, positions, position location, or other criteria to fit candidates sponsored by” Blagojevich’s patronage office into positions at IDES without following State law or normal State hiring protocol)
was accomplished through the use of mechanisms designed to avoid veterans’ preference hiring in non-exempt positions as well as through the creation of positions, titles, and job responsibilities.”

There were 500 vacancies

A bit over a month after Blagojevich took office, Lon Monk approved the hiring of college graduate, former employee Cook County Circuit Clerk and Alderman Dick Mell 33rd Ward Office volunteer Sumari “Sudi” Garcia in the Illinois Department of Employment Security.

13-year IDES hiring expert Pete Shetter asked why Garcia wanted to take a job as a Public Administration Intern when she was qualified to be a Public Service Administrator.

Shetter explained there were generally three reasons for doing so:
“to avoid calling up a list of veterans
“it is a commonly used method of choice for hiring to to avoid the veterans’ preference and target the specific person you wish to hire
“it is an easy way to get around the CMS (Department of Central Management Services) Personnel Code”

When Garcia was interviewed she was asked how the state hired employees. She explained
“the first way is to apply for a grade from CMS and get a grade. In her words, the ‘problem’ with this route is that you have to deal with the veterans who have an absolute hiring preference.
“The second way is if you are a current state employee.
“The final way is through the Public Administration Intern (“PAI” program). As an intern, the manager can pick whomever s/he wants without going through veterans’ preference or pulling an eligibility list.”

The report notes that Garcia was neither a veteran nor a state employee and concludes she was hired as an intern “to circumvent the absolute veterans’ preference.”

The next section tells of a more blatant evasion of veterans’ preference. Cook County resident George Rada was hired in an exempt position. Two days later, he applied for a Civil Service position.

But there were seventeen veterans on the list in Cook County.

Fortunately for Rada, the opening for which he applied had been moved to Stephenson County where there were no veterans on the list.

And, lucky guy, he was the only one of six possible applicants interviewed…even though he was the only person who did not live in the county. When he got the job, a demotion from his civil service exempt position, his higher salary was not decreased.

Rada never ended up working in the county southwest of Rockford.

So, that’s the second person in the report who took the job a veteran should have received.

Both Garcia and Rada ended up hiring people for IDES.

Kenneth Macievic, a resident of Gurnee when he applied for an IDES job, wanted a job in Lake or Cook Counties. There was that veterans’ preference problem again.

There were no veterans on the list in Lake County, but also no vacancy. He was hired anyway and worked in Chicago supposedly until a vacancy opened up in Lake. He was fired less than six months later for fraudulent collection of $17,044 in unemployment insurance benefits.

The memo notes that it is a Class A Misdemeanor to violate veterans’ preference (20 ILCS/415/18).

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I’ve been told there is at least one instance of hiring shenanigans a little closer to home. I wonder if the current Executive Inspector General would be interested.

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