This week we saw two headlines that sadly sum up exactly how Bruce Rauner operates, and what he has in store for vulnerable populations in Illinois.
First, you had news that Linda Saterfield, the longest-serving administrator of a state child care program in the nation and a 37-year public servant, was retiring, a few days after she was “reassigned,” a few days after she committed the crime of telling the truth in public testimony about how Rauner’s changes to the state’s Child Care Assistance Program would be – her word – “devastating” to Illinois working families.
Then you had news that a highly-paid right-wing operative, Donna Arduin – whose specialty is parachuting into states and finding ways to make money by denying benefits to kids, seniors and people with disabilities – was riding into the sunset after a few months of lucrative work. Presumably Rauner’s “superstar” budget guru cashed her $165,000 check, even while Illinois remains mired in the worst budget crisis in state history.
So on the one hand you had a committed career child advocate, praised by members of both parties after serving multiple governors, being cashiered in the midst of suffocating cuts to a workforce-building program that, by virtually every measure, is a success.
On the other hand, you had an ideologue with a proven track record of destruction, whose chief accomplishment may not merely be concocting a bizarre and extreme budget that had no chance of passage, but also draconian rules changes to social service agencies that would, if enacted, fundamentally shred the social safety net in Illinois, while also surely inviting costly legal challenges.
Bottom line: Bruce Rauner came into office touting his business acumen and pointing to the obscene fortune he has amassed by acquiring and selling companies, and the “superstars” he was going to recruit to “turnaround” Illinois.
Linda Saterfield was an actual superstar, dispensed with for daring speak the truth, whose vast experience and institutional knowledge can in no way be replaced.
Donna Arduin was a Rauner-brand superstar, whose indifference to the suffering of the most vulnerable Illinoisans – all in the name of alarming Darwinian budget logic now being felt in every corner of the state – earned her a huge paycheck.
One of them will be missed.