Our view: Walsh’s motto: Clout wins out
Herald-News editorial February 21, 2013 8:58PM
Updated: March 23, 2013 6:17AM
When it comes to getting relatives on public payrolls, Will County Executive Larry Walsh is an ace.
The latest example of the Walsh Family Jobs Initiative is the Will County Board’s tapping of one of his sons, Shawn Walsh, 35, as the regional schools superintendent at a salary of $107,655 — a raise of more than $10,000. He had been assistant regional superintendent since 2007 and will serve the remainder of former regional Supt. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant’s term.
This is nothing new for Larry Walsh, whose opponent last fall criticized him for having at least nine relatives in government jobs, including Shawn and Larry Jr., who was appointed last spring as a state representative. The total annual taxpayer-funded income for Larry Sr. and his clan — nearly $700,000.
Shawn Walsh was the only applicant for the high-paying post. Why? Maybe because it was advertised only in the local media, not in regional or national publications for educators.
Or maybe because potential candidates realized it was futile to apply — seeing that Shawn Walsh is the son of a powerful politician who would have a strong say on who would get the job.
Larry Walsh said no one should’ve been discouraged from applying just because of his son’s interest in it, and that if a “far superior” candidate had surfaced he would’ve nominated that person. We’re not buying it.
By ordinance, the county exec makes a recommendation to the county board when there’s an opening in an elected office. In this case, Larry Walsh appointed a committee of current and retired school superintendents to advise him, apparently realizing the conflict of interest but unwilling to divorce himself from the process.
The committee recommended Shawn Walsh. Tough call when he was the only applicant.
Shawn Walsh has degrees in education and was a teacher before getting the assistant superintendent post. His qualifications, however, are not so much the issue as is the blatant nepotism.
Unfortunately, for Larry Walsh and his ilk, that doesn’t seem to be an issue at all.