Sneed: DCFS chief left to avoid being made a ‘distraction to the real issues’
By Michael Sneed February 26, 2014 8:34PM
Arthur Bishop (right) then-director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, and other Illinois executive branch officials at a hearing in Joliet in 2012. | Sun-Times files
Updated: March 28, 2014 9:01AM
It’s over — and it was “personal, complicated and painful.”
That’s how a Sneed source described the resignation Wednesday of Arthur Bishop, Gov. Pat Quinn’s embattled director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which Sneed was first to report.
Quinn accepted the hand-delivered resignation late Wednesday afternoon, which followed in the wake of disclosures by the Chicago Sun-Times that Bishop pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge in 1995, stemming from his time working at a community mental health center — and had become embroiled in a child support battle over a daughter he said he never knew he fathered.
Quinn, who initially stood behind Bishop due to “his decades of excellent work” shortly after the Sun-Times story broke, immediately appointed Bishop’s interim replacement, Deputy Chief of the DCFS Bureau of Operations Bobbie Gregg, soon after receiving Bishop’s formal resignation letter.
“The governor’s office will immediately begin a search for a permanent director,” said Brooke Anderson, the governor’s communications director.
Last week, DCFS spokeswoman Karen Hawkins told the Sun-Times: “We believe it’s inappropriate to raise decades-old issues that have long been resolved and have nothing to do with his performance as director.”
The resignation of Bishop, who is also an ordained minister, was the result of a groundswell of negative publicity; an upcoming “contentious” gubernatorial campaign; a desire to protect his family and a wife suffering from multiple sclerosis; and the conundrum of a having a state family welfare leader embroiled in a child support scandal, according to several Sneed sources.
The perfect storm led to the plug being pulled on the capstone of Bishop’s 20-year career.
In his five-paragraph resignation letter, a copy of which was obtained by Sneed, Bishop wrote:
“For almost 20 years, my work has been dedicated to the best interest of children who are in the care and custody of the Department of Children and Family Services or the Department of Juvenile Justice.
“The mission of protecting and serving the youngest residents of our state should not be used for political purposes.
“I am aware that we are in the mist of a contested election, and that my documented accomplishments, dedication, and almost 20 years of exemplary work are in this environment, simply irrelevant.
“While your political rivals may be willing to attack me in an effort to obtain some modicum of political advantage, I cannot agree to be used as a distraction to the real issues that face the State and the children that remain in State custody.
“I appreciate the confidence you have demonstrated in my work as the Director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, as the Deputy Director of the Department of Children and Family Services, and then in nominating me as the acting Director of the Department of Children and Family Services.”
The Pulitzer auction . . .
The late fashion icon Lilly Pulitzer, the Palm Beach socialite who turned colorful Florida dresses into dollars, would have been ecstatic over the frenzied bidding at her estate auction last weekend.
◆ Sneed hears 400 Pulitzer aficionados, who showed up at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Florida last weekend wearing signature Pulitzer prints, shelled out a sack of seismic simoleons; which included $42,500 for a pair of Chinese urns expected to fetch $4,000; $40,000 for a Chinese jardiniere expected to fetch no more than $200; and $16,250 for a printed map of Palm Beach that was expected to go for $40 to $60.
Sneedlings . . .
Thursday’s birthdays: Chelsea Clinton, 34; Joanne Woodward, 84, and Ted Tetzlaff, ageless.