This summer I got to see how Illinois government works from the inside when I accepted a high-level position at the governor’s office.
A lot of people have asked why I took the role, considering I have spent the bulk of my career railing against the government.
It came down to this: If I declined the job, I’d watch Illinois’ problems go unfixed and wonder if I could have made a difference. Or, I could enter the nucleus of state government and attempt to change the system from within.
The experience was eye-opening, but after six weeks I decided to leave the position. It was a dysfunctional workplace in a flailing administration. The bad I saw far outweighed any good I could do.
State government, lollygagging, inefficiency etc etc etc.
I was asked to bring four departments under one umbrella to streamline operations and increase effectiveness. Across these four departments, several jobs seemed duplicative or unnecessary, and there were some employees who weren’t productive.
I started by asking human resources for job descriptions and performance reviews for all staffers under my supervision, but was told none existed. Then I learned how it really worked.
Underperformers aren’t fired; they’re simply transferred to different positions, shuffled elsewhere on the payroll or tucked away at state agencies.
OK, yes, that’s how a union led bureaucracy works. Fine.
And the kicker?
Diana Sroka Rickert formerly worked for the libertarian-to-conservative Illinois Policy Institute and recently headed Gov. Bruce Rauner’s communications team.
There’re two in fact.
One, someone who writes this, ahem, well, was running a comms team? Secondly, that anyone vaguely libertarian or conservative thinks that a politician needs a comms team? Ain’t those two wondrous problems in and of themselves?
And yes, I’ve been paid to do political PR myself, incumbents don’t need it…..