State continues to defend firing of Ryan employees

By Gus Bode

Two more issues need to be resolved before final decision

It may not be over or even closer to an end, but the battle between Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the 27 reinstated employees fighting to keep their state jobs, including Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole, continues.

Thursday, a Cook County circuit court judge restated his position. According to Abby Ottenhoff, spokeswoman for the governor, he said felt the state was entitled to the stay, based on the merits of the case


“He reiterated he believes we are entitled to the stay, but a few things need to be resolved before we can move forward,” Ottenhoff said.

Late September, the Civil Service Commission reinstated 27 of the 28 employees into their state jobs, including Cole. A stay would result in those reinstated to their jobs not returning to work until the case is resolved.

Shortly after the reinstatement, two separate appeals were filed – one by the governor and the other by the employees.

Wednesday, a judge in Sangamon County dismissed the appeal filed by the employees with the exception of one appeal. The employee not reinstated to his job by the commission still has a pending case because he does have reason to appeal, Ottenhoff said.

Next, a judge must decide whether that one employee is part of the action in Cook County.

One of the employees’ lawyers asked for a change of venue, so that is the second issue that needs to be resolved as well.

The employees were fired by Blagojevich in January after he charged the rules requiring a six-month probationary period had been inappropriately reduced to 30 days and the appointees were not hired from eligibility list, a list that is part of the state’s personnel code and acts like a law.


Former Gov. Ryan hired the individuals on late-term appointments. Traditionally, this would mean that after a six-month probationary period, they could not be fired for four years.

Reporter Jackie Keane can be reached at [email protected]