6-18-12; Is there an IL WC Arbitrator Shell-Game Afoot?

We note there are a number of IL WC Arbitrators whose reappointments out currently out in political limbo. They are veteran, knowledgeable and hard-working hearing officers who are being unfairly hung out to dry by the political powers-that-be. The reappointments are coming up on July 1, 2012 which, by our count, is less than two weeks from today. As a WC news outlet, we feel it comical to see how little anyone is telling the media about the status of these folks. We truly dislike the “secret squirrels” who continue to run Illinois state government and hope some day the process opens up.

We were aware the Illinois Auditor General’s scathing report castigated our leaders for not asking anyone for evaluations of the Arbitrators. Bingo!!—all of a sudden, lots of requests for Arbitrator evaluations were sent out. What they did with them is anyone’s guess.

Our sources tell us the Illinois WC Commission recently took a vote about reappointments. Yes, folks, they might sometimes vote on stuff. Separate sources confirm they agreed to reappoint all of the sitting Arbitrators-on-the-bubble. We can’t independently confirm the vote from the IWCC website with minutes of a meeting. Basically, it was rumors and hearsay so we don’t know if it happened and got buried or if it didn’t happen and we were erroneously advised.

If it happened or as fast as that might have happened, our plucky Governor got involved. Late last month, he obviously got in the face of the Senate/House leaders and demanded more input. We are then sure both chambers of the Illinois legislature passed a law that gives complete control of the process to the Governor. House Bill 1084 requires the Governor appoint and reappoint all IWCC arbitrators with the advice and consent of the Senate. Currently, the Governor makes the initial appointments with the advice and consent of the Senate but all final appointments and/or reappointments thereafter are made by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. House Bill 1084 quickly passed both chambers and was sent to the Governor for signature on Friday, June 15, 2012.

What does all of this mean? As Commission-watchers, we aren’t confident there will be a parade to hail the reappointment of our veteran hearing officers. Instead, we assume the supposed-reformer Governor may do what he always seems to do, fire a bunch of veteran administrators without any true reason other than to claim he is reforming something. He will then appoint and reappoint his trusted buddies to the positions for which they have little to no experience or background. In his mind, that is progress. We hope that doesn’t happen to make the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission even more liberal and pro-labor than it is today.

If the Governor wasn’t going to make random and unexpected changes, why waste the time of our busy legislators who did a few good things in Springfield at the end of last month but still left the state gushing red ink all over its vendors and taxpayers? We can only watch and wait from the sidelines because there is little to no “sunshine” in the clandestine bowels of Illinois government. We will continue to post any news we hear—if you hear anything definite that we can report, please send us an email.