Friday, July 8, 2016

High turnover in Rauner’s Administration—what does it mean?


ILLINOIS -- Governor Bruce Rauner's administration hasn't gone on unscathed in Illinois's budget crisis.

In the first year and a half, around a half dozen top aides or agency directors have left their positions. While turnover can be normal in a governor's term in office, some of these departures have been anything but.

UIS political science professor and former Illinois Board of Elections director Ron Michaelson said it’s not a great sign when a number of key officials leave unexpectedly.

"This is quite a few replacements or departures I should say when you're only not only halfway through your term,” Michaelson said.

In a number of cases, the departures have been for greener pastures. Former Rauner chief of staff Mike Zolnierowicz left to help the Illinois Republican Party in the fall elections.

Not all goodbyes were equally as smooth,

The most chaotic of departures involved the governor's appointees for director of the Department of Agriculture Phil Nelson and state fair manager Patrick Buchen. The resignations came shortly after last year's fair when numbers appeared to be significantly lower.
Buchen publicly criticized the Rauner team for unprofessional behavior and accused his office of cronyism and interference. The Governor's Office said Buchen had been involved in threatening a staffer during the affair.
More recently and much more professionally, chief operating officer Linda Lingle resigned her post last week. The governor had put her in charge of transforming state government.
Michaelson said the state's budget climate has likely not been an easy one to work in.

"It certainly drains people who have been working on this night and day for weeks and months,” Michaelson said, “And to have a result like we had which is an imperfect or impartial result can cause discouragement or disillusionment."
Lingle was one of two highly paid officials involved in helping fix the state financially. She earned $198,000 a year as COO.

Another official, Donna Arduin, was tasked with helping craft a budget last year. She was paid between $15,000 and $30,000 a month for about half a year in 2015. Arduin, unlike Lingle, was under a contract which the governor chose not to extend.

The Governor’s Office issued the following statement in response to this story.

It read:

"Like any large corporation, organization or governmental office there will always be turnover.”

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