Editorials

In the bowels of bureaucracy

One of the great perks for working for the State of Illinois is learning how the system works.

Or, better yet, how to work the system.

Adam Monreal, a Cook County attorney and member of the Illinois Parole Board, appears to have been an excellent student. Shoot, in the Illinois school of political arrogance and creative gerrymandering, he could be headmaster.

Our investigation of Vonetta Rush — the Swansea resident and parole board member who listed $11,000 in delinquent income tax and $306,000 in unpaid student loans as part of her bankruptcy filing — is what led us to Monreal.

He filed for bankruptcy, too, as has former Harrisburg mayor and parole board member Eric Gregg.

We know people are forced into bankruptcy by any number of legitimate, and sometimes tragic, reasons. What are the odds, though, that the first three members of the Illinois Parole Board the BND would investigate all have filed for bankruptcy?

Monreal’s case, in particular, is a sad example of what’s apparently normal in the bowels of Illinois bureaucracy.

In his bankruptcy filing, he erroneously claimed himself to be “Director, State of Illinois Penitentiary,” with an annual salary of just $38,673 per year.

Who knows why he fabricated his job title? Maybe it was an ego thing?

But we can guess why he filed a salary that was well short of the $91,400 he was actually paid — because it put him below an income threshold that qualified him for a Chapter 7 filing. Basically, this means he and his wife got to keep their $315,000 house while their other debt was wiped off the books.

An even better question is why the federal trustee who administered Monreal’s bankruptcy didn’t bat an eye at such a modest income for such an important job, fabricated or not. Monreal, who ironically once worked to investigate fraud for the Illinois Department of Insurance, is a public employee whose salary is a matter of public record.

Anybody could have checked, but nobody else did.

Of course, none of this is really shocking. Unfortunately, this is how things work in Illinois. But we’re no less disgusted.

We’ll be taking a real close look at the remaining 12 members of the Illinois Parole Board and we’re anxious to see what is revealed.

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