McCombie: Unfortunately, former Rauner staffer right about dysfunction
A former state employee recently offered a first-hand view of the state government, and it isn't a pretty picture, Rep. Tony McCombie (R-Savanna) told her constituents in a Facebook post.
"I agree this is worth reading and you will be upset," McCombie posted about a commentary Diana Sroka Rickert wrote for the Chicago Tribune about her brief tenure leading Gov. Bruce Rauner's communications team. "In every thing we do, there are always ways to increase efficiencies, production and accountability and the first step is for those involved is to admit there is an issue!"
Rickert left her position after six weeks because she found the dysfunction too much to handle and realized no one within the system was willing to fix it.
"Here is a taste of what I saw: The Thompson Center, where I worked, is a near-perfect representation of state government. It is gross, rundown, and nobody cares," Rickert wrote. "Despite the shoddy condition of the state — fiscally and otherwise — there is a disturbing sense of entitlement among some state employees.
"During my first week, someone who said he had been 'promised' a job approached me. When I asked what he did all day, the employee said, 'Not a lot. But they promised me I would have a position.'"
Rickert went on to detail a culture generally lacking drive, purpose and efficiency.
"Throughout all levels of state government, what permeated the most was an overall attitude of defeat," she wrote. "There was no sense of purpose. No hunger to do more, push further or to succeed. ...
"The games that were played in the office, the problems that would be easily resolved if anyone cared, the inability to get an initiative off the ground … it was almost like a running joke, or some sick rite of passage. It was as if the culture said, 'You’re not a real state employee until you’re bolting out the door after 7.5 hours with nothing to show for it.'"
McCombie said she believes Rickert's account is accurate.
"I wish I doubted this editorial, but I do not," she wrote. "To work for a government entity and to [do] so without care is not only irresponsible to taxpayers, to our future success but to your own bottom line as well! Change is needed and we must start in our own house!
"Change does not need to [be] disregarded or a slow process, especially if it is for the greater good!"
Some readers voiced frustration but not surprise in response to McCombie's post.
"So, we have an entitlement attitude amongst our state employees," Art Goodrich wrote. "What else is new? And now, that attitude is so imbedded in our state that it will take generations to eliminate it. I will be rotting gopher food before it ever happens."
Ruth K. Holmes suggested that Rickert had a good reason to leave.
"This really is quite sickening and a real shame," Holmes wrote. "Worse yet, I believe every word Diana wrote. At least she had the good sense to leave on her own accord. Rauner would serve himself and the state well if he took half of these issues to task. Unfortunately, doing nothing is standard protocol for this freakin state!"