Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Madigan has investigation into sexual harassment by clout-heavy aide

I remember once someone telling me what was supposed to be the biggest of secrets into how politics really worked – the reason that Michael Madigan had managed to last so long (now nearly a half-century) as a public official is that he never resisted efforts to investigate himself.

MADIGAN: A sexual harassment firing
The way it was put to me is that any time federal investigators approached Madigan for information, he was always forthcoming with precisely whatever data was sought.

HE WASN’T SOMEONE likely to get caught up in some stupid technicality. In fact, I have heard of many of the political people who have been indicted throughout the years who, supposedly, got caught because Madigan’s staff essentially turned them in.

Meaning Madigan would snitch out anybody if it meant detracting investigatory attention from himself.

Admittedly, the person who told me this was trying to put as negative spin as possible on this – as though Madigan were the moral-less one who was selling out everybody else for his self-preservation.

Or could it be that the long-time Illinois House speaker (a legislator since 1971 and holder of the top leadership post for all but two years since 1983) has that bit of honesty in him that he’s not going to make the mistake of covering up for other officials just because they have that “D” following their names that indicates their Democratic Party leanings.

THIS POPPED INTO my mind when I read the statement Madigan had issued in his name about the dismissal of Kevin Quinn, an aide to the speaker in various roles for nearly two decades.

What also should have made Quinn safe is that he is the brother of Marty Quinn – as in the 13rd Ward alderman (Madigan’s home ward) who has his City Council post largely because of Madigan’s influence.

Yet when Madigan was made aware of complaints by women regarding Kevin Quinn’s behavior to them, the speaker brought in an attorney to investigate.

QUINN: Not enough clout to keep brother employed
That attorney, Madigan said, “recently came to the conclusion that the individual engaged in inappropriate conduct and failed to exercise the professional judgment I expect of those affiliated with my political organizations and the office of the Speaker.”

NOW I’M SURE the political cynics are going to complain that Madigan is only behaving in such a way because of the outburst of complaints we have heard in recent months concerning sexual harassment.

I’m sure they’re going to see this as Madigan selling out one aide so as to protect the overall structure.

But I can’t help but see it as a step in the right direction. Because a large part of the reason why the “old boy’s network” attitude that treats many female officials as potential playthings is because of the perception that the people in charge aren’t going to do anything about it.

This may be a sign that someone will do something about it, although the real acts of significance in Madigan’s statement are his claims that his attorneys have made recommendations for preventing inappropriate behavior and improving methods of reporting such allegations.

WE’LL HAVE TO see what becomes of this. If it results in future action, or just a whole lot of talk about nothing.

Could it be that part of the Madigan legacy (aside from being the longest-serving House speaker from any state) will be that he addressed the sexist culture that some would definitely like to have kept in the 19th Century – rather than advancing to the 21st?

DALEY: Had his own morals rules
Or is this just a moralist quirk that allows things to remain the same, similar to the old Mayor Richard J. Daley who supposedly was willing to turn a blind eye to all types of corruption EXCEPT that of government officials engaged in adulterous behavior.

Which would almost be proof of that old cliche, the more things change, the more they stay the same.


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