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Cook County to Get Watchdog

By Kevin Robinson in News on Dec 1, 2006 2:50PM

The drama on the Cook County Board of Commisioners just got a little more interesting. Cook County commissioners approved a settlement agreement yesterday that will allow attorney Michael Shakman to approve the County Board president's choice for inspector general. Shakman is the man behind the Shakman Decree, the 1983 court ruling that makes it unlawful to take political factors into account in public hiring. He took the county to court in September after charges of politically motivated hirings surfaced.

2006_11_watchdog.jpgWith outgoing interim board president Bobbie Steele and board president-elect Todd Stroger looking on, Michael Shakman declared the settlement "a broad, far-reaching, effective, fair settlement ... that will do the county good. It will do the public good." Under the terms of the agreement, Shakman will be permitted to approve the county board president's choice for inspector general, who will also be allowed to sit in on interviews and question employees to be sure that political clout had nothing to do with their employment situation. While nobody has been named to this post yet, under this agreement, once the monitor is appointed, they will have 30 days to file a report recommending the scope of their powers.

Stroger has been dogged by charges that he will simply preside over more of the same — systemic corruption in county hiring. County Commisioner Forrest Claypool, leader of a group of reformers on the board, said that this is a step forward, but that only time will tell how effective it is. "I think the real reform, to the extent that there has been reform, is coming from the U.S. attorney's office," Claypool said.