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Proviso Probe

Saturday, April 01, 2006

POL, what's the alternative to patronage?


Recently the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform made a presentation in Forest Park. See Forest Park Review (Bob Skolnik).

I have a number of criticisms of the ICPR.

1. I don’t think they (the campaign finance reform (CFR) goo-goos) understand corruption. To decrease corruption increase transparency and decrease conflict of interest.
2. I don’t think they have a vision of what they want as an affirmative alternative to the current system. They talk about publicly financed elections without explaining how public financing would work.
3. They have a partisan bias in the problems they are trying to fix. The ICPR gets in a tizzy over large contributions (traditionally these have been to the advantage of Republicans) and spends comparatively little effort on patronage hiring and using government employees for political work (traditionally patronage has worked to the advantage of Democrats).

But if the good government (“goo-goo”) reformers have trouble articulating what CFR they advocate they find it almost impossible to explain how patronage should be addressed.

In government jobs with few pre-requisites, who should be hired? One could try to reduce patronage abuses by creating a rigid civil service or qualification tests. I like the idea of tests, but I’m pretty good at standardized tests.

My preference would be to reduce the number of positions determined by elections. If it’s going to cost candidates thousands of dollars (or tens of thousands of dollars) and the elected body is going to manage millions of dollars, it seems awfully tempting to pay for campaigns with kickbacks—direct or indirect.

What role should political patronage play in government hiring?

Are you satisfied that the federal government mostly hires based on ability? What could state, county and municipal government borrow from the federal government?


  • "The ICPR gets in a tizzy over large contributions (traditionally these have been to the advantage of Republicans)"

    Two words: Rod Blagojevich

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:16 AM, April 03, 2006  

  • Please don't post under "anonymous". Use a pseudonym.

    G-Rod uses the perks of incumbency quite effectively. However, the statement is still true. Republicans generally get more big donor contributions.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 12:42 PM, April 05, 2006  

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