Originally Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2013, 9:48 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 31, 2013, 9:11 am

Inspector general says state hired unqualified worker at E.M. prison

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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

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Louis Hare

The Illinois Department of Corrections violated its own policies when it hired former Congressman Phil Hare's son as an assistant warden at East Moline Correctional Center, according to a report by the state's inspector general.

Lou Hare's name is redacted from the report by the Office of the Executive Inspector General, but descriptions of his work experience, union officials and his father confirmed his identity.

Lou Hare did not meet all of IDOC's written employment requirements for the job, the report found.

The inspector general launched an investigation into the hiring in response to information "it obtained that the Illinois Department of Corrections hired a politically-connected but otherwise unqualified person."

Mr. Hare remains in his job at EMCC, and the case now has been closed. He could not be contacted Wednesday for comment.

The report states "employee 1" -- as it refers to Mr. Hare -- acknowledged he did not meet most of the requirements for the position but was open about his lack of correctional experience when interviewed for the job.

Illinois Department of Corrections Director Salvador "Tony" Godinez authorized hiring Mr. Hare, the report states. Mr. Godinez did not review the written requirements for the job, the report adds.

Jerry Buscher, the executive chief to the director, interviewed "employee 1" and told the inspector general investigator that "he has never used a position description to assess whether an applicant is qualified."

When interviewed as part of the investigation, "employee 1" said he did not meet four of the six written requirement's for the assistant or duty warden's job.

One of the requirements states candidates must have two years "professional supervisory experience in a correctional facility, public or private service or social welfare organization."

"Employee 1" told the investigator he had supervisory experience as "assistant manager at a movie store and as office manager for his father's campaign."

Mr. Hare graduated with degrees in journalism, radio/television and theater from St. Ambrose University.

The first requirement for assistant warden's job listed in the report is "experience equivalent to four years college supplemented by a Master's degree in public or business administration, sociology, penology, behavioral sciences or a related field."

"Employee 1" said his degrees were not directly related to those listed but his "acting classes were related to behavioral sciences."

Phil Hare said his son was being targeted unfairly.

"Here's a guy who by all accounts is doing an exceptional job," Phil Hare said. "If his last name was anything but Hare, this would not be story."

Phil Hare added, as evidence of how well-regarded his son is, that he has been left "in charge of the prison when the warden is ill."

Mr. Hare's hiring was criticized in September 2011 when it was made public. Former Republican state Rep. Rich Morthland called for an investigation into the hiring of a former Democratic Congressman's son at the prison.

Greg Johnson, AFSCME 46 local president at EMCC, said political appointees in the state's prison system were nothing new and it was unfair to single out Mr. Hare.

"The hiring of wardens has been a political process since the beginning of time," Mr. Johnson said. "It's a golden rule that the party in control at the time does it."

The investigation into Mr. Hare's hiring was a "witch hunt" fueled by Republicans, who had engaged in the same practice when they were in power, Mr. Johnson added.

Rock Island County Board member Steve Ballard, a Democrat, was the warden at EMCC when Mr. Hare was hired on a salary of $51,450. But he said he had nothing to do with the hiring and was not part of the interview panel.

"I was just told that they were hiring him and to expect him on a certain day," said Mr. Ballard, who has since retired from the prison.

Gov. Pat Quinn's office responded to the inspector's report by seeking its own review to determine if Mr. Hare met the requirements for the position.

Brooke Anderson, a spokeswoman for Gov. Quinn, said an assessment should have been performed when the hiring was made. But she said the review requested by the governor found that, having obtained additional training, Mr. Hare now does meet the requirements for the position.

An emailed statement from the Department of Corrections said it took the report's findings seriously and "will conduct a comprehensive review of policies dealing with the department's hiring processes."

Mr. Hare worked for four and a half years for the Rock Island County Council on Addictions before being laid off in August 2011. He began work at the prison in October 2011.