Why My Home State Can’t Have Nice Things

At least not until we find a new governor:

Arthur Bishop, who is Gov. Pat Quinn’s choice to lead the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, has been in the job only a few weeks. He runs a far-flung agency whose caseworkers make decisions that affect the lives of thousands of abused and neglected children. An agency that doles out millions of dollars in contracts. An agency that saw its director quit in 2011 under a cloud of suspicion about insider grant-dealing.

It is unconscionable to have the appointment of a new DCFS director clouded by ethical concerns related to the major responsibilities he will face. But that’s what Quinn has set up with the appointment of Bishop.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday that Bishop, 61, pleaded guilty in 1995 to taking more than $9,000 from patients at the Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive Community Mental Health Center and not turning the money over to the center. A former director of the center told the newspaper that Bishop took the money from people who had been convicted of drunken driving and led them to wrongly believe the center had a program to help them get their driver’s licenses back.

A felony theft charge was pending when DCFS hired Bishop in 1995. He fought the case for more than two years, then pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge.

The Sun-Times also reported that a paternity case was filed against Bishop in 2003, when he was a deputy director at DCFS.

The story goes on to note that Bishop “disputes all of the facts that were represented.” Perhaps those facts were misrepresented, but at the end of the day, Bishop entered a guilty plea. He has to live with that. And the Quinn administration has to live with the fact that it could have nominated someone without a controversial past, but failed to, thus making Illinois government even more dysfunctional than it already is.