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Steal and lose public paycheck

With all the thousands of units of local government in Illinois, we guess we shouldn’t be surprised that one doesn’t know what the other is doing.

Cahokia School District truant officer Patricia Cross-Hicks pleaded guilty in July to stealing federal stimulus money while she was a secretary for the Centreville mayor. Seven months later, the news still hadn’t made its way to her current boss, School Superintendent Art Ryan. No telling how long it would have taken for him to hear about it if our reporter hadn’t informed him.

Ryan said he’d look into it. We wish he would have added that once he confirms the conviction, she will be removed from the public payroll.

The money Cross-Hicks stole was from a jobs programs set up to help low-income people who were hard hit by the Great Recession. The fact that she stole from the taxpayers should mean that she forfeits her right to continue to profit from them.

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said people’s collective trust in public institutions has gone down, and prosecutions are a way to help protect that trust. Another way would be to make sure that crooks don’t continue to get to feed at the public trough.