ITeam: State board positions expired, vacant

October 10, 2012 (CHICAGO)

This week as Governor Quinn and Mayor Emanuel publicly tangle over one state board appointment, the I-Team has found hundreds of other crucial positions that remain unfilled on Illinois boards and commissions.

These state boards are intended to let Illinois residents keep their leaders honest and make sure their tax money isn't wasted.

Many of those vital positions are vacant, though.

These boards help set policies that control our lives, in the workplace, on highways, in grocery stores and schools, just about everywhere.

The past few days the state board that controls sports stadiums has been caught in a nasty, spat over the governor's appointment of a controversial executive director.

Unnoticed in the fray is that three of the sports facilities board members terms have expired.

A review by the I-Team reveals that is common:

Two-thirds of all state boards and commissions currently have some vacancies.

The government watchdog Common Cause Wednesday night said Springfield has created a hodge-podge of ineffective and vacant citizen boards.

State officials say there are currently 746 open positions. The I-Team has found that many boards have multiple vacancies.

The State Hate Crimes Board has had no appointees at all for two years, even though there is a full-time, paid executive director.

"There are policy issues that are being decided on these committees, our stance if these committees aren't staffed, we'll likely get bad policy decisions," said Common Cause Executive Director Rey Lopez-Calderon.

Governor Quinn, who is responsible for a total 3,500 board appointments, said he is still trying to fill the backlog of vacancies left by corrupt ex-governor Rod Blagojevich.

That was also Mr. Quinn's reply more than a year ago to a scathing state auditor general report that found a quarter of state boards and commissions were completely inactive.

Among the auditor general's recommendations: The governor do away with unnecessary boards and fill vacant positions on those remaining. In September 2011 the governor promised to do so.

A year later, Governor Quinn re-pledges that in this statement to the I-Team, citing "more than 2,050 appointments to various boards and commissions (he has made) since taking office, including 93 since August 1."

"We have continued to prioritize active boards, particularly those with statutory duties and critical responsibilities," said the governor's press secretary, "and we conduct a vetting process for each candidate who is considered for an appointment to a board or commission."

For some, it isn't enough.

"I think the state needs to take a good look at, do we really need all of those boards?" Lopez-Calderon said.

The investigation by the state auditor general a year ago was critical of how ineffective the boards were because so many positions were vacant and he was also critical because there were too many boards, 309.

That number has changed. Now there are 353 state boards created by the general assembly to better run state government.

State of Illinois Boards and Commissions website:

Illinois Auditor General 2011 Report on Boards and Commissions:

Common Cause Illinois:

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