Waffling will Cost Both Quinn & IDOC

Posted: September 4, 2010 by mikethemouth in IDOC

It continues to be the worst of times for IL voters if you care about prison reform. Come November, you will be forced to choose between Republican Bill Brady who wants to indiscriminately imprison  all “criminals” and maintain them on bread and water and the Democratic Governor, Patrick Quinn, a self-styled reformist who made it plain today that he will sacrifice any progress towards meaningful reform for a few political votes. Ultimately there may be small difference between the two.

Pat Quinn tried to reduce the inflated number of people incarcerated in Illinois prisons in recent years in order to reduce the cost burden they inflict upon Illinois taxpayers. He started out in the right direction; selecting a director for IDOC with a track record of some prison innovation and who showed motivation to reduce recidivism. He continued to courageously stand behind and defend his director, Michael Randle, when mistakes were made in the MGT Push Program and Quinn was mercilessly attacked for them by his opponents. He appeared to ride out the worst of the political turmoil and seemed content to allow Randle to carry out his mandate to change the direction of IDOC. Then, suddenly, when most of the   agitation is past and his opponents have exhausted most of their ammunition Quinn waffled yesterday and let Randle go. Sure, Randle is returning to another job in Iowa, but Quinn could’ve persuaded him to stay.

Now, one day after letting Randle go, Quinn, gives the public indication that he is  now halfhearted about IDOC.  Rather than take the time to carefully search out  a good candidate to head up IDOC and be responsible for implementing the ambitious rewriting of the agency’s policy and practice, Quinn merely reaches around with one hand to grab the nearest political crony available to appoint to the post;  one with little serious experience tackling tough prison issues.

Who is Gladyse Taylor? We should always be suspicious when the qualifications  of an appointee are padded in some manner through the use of some term of quantification, such as today when Gov. Quinn characterized the appointment of Gladyse Taylor today by saying that she brings a “wealth” of experience to her new job as director of IDOC. Usually, this is just some way of acknowledging that she really doesn’t have as much experience to justify her appointment, but that her appointment is useful to the governor for other reasons.

We don’t know that much about Gladyse Taylor, because she doesn’t have much of a  public track record. We do know that  she was one of the individuals of the governor’s staff that the governor received flak for in July 2010, when it became publicly known that in these times of state austerity, he had awarded his staffers 43 salary increases including a 10.4% salary bump for Taylor in January 2010, (See here), bringing her annual salary to $110,000. This at the time when she was serving Quinn as Deputy Budget Director. This was also before May 2010, when Taylor took the position of Assistant Director of IDOC. Per Quinn, Taylor knows IDOC  “…like the back of her hand.”  That’s rather curious, considering that she apparently only spent 1 1/2 prior years at IDOC back in 2005 working around agency reentry initiatives and has spent that much greater part of her 30 years work experience in private financial management. So she has really worked with the state only about five years. Of course her jump to assistant director of IDOC also gave her another healthy salary increase to $127,739 annually (minus furlough days).  Not a bad salary increase for the space of a few months.  Randle naturally  earned more at 150,000 per year, but he will lose at least half that salary leaving IDOC. Perhaps his loss will net her yet another salary increase for her new position as IDOC Director?

Anyway, Taylor has obediently stated that she will “…implement programs that would reduce the cycle of inmates who repeatedly bounce in and out of prisons…” There isn’t much else that she can say given the limitations of her background. She will obediently try to follow the blueprint that Randle leaves her. The question is how successful she will be in carrying it out and then, will she continue towards further innovation. Will it be anywhere close to what Randle, or someone else more qualified, would have ultimately accomplished?

Check out more on this subject at the Capitolfaxblog. We like their take on this.

  1. Tamara says:

    I can’t imagine that Taylor is actually making any decisions. I suspect that Quinn is the acting director of IDOC right now. I wonder what the other IDOC employees think of this.


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