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Chicago Is Now Free From The Shakman Decree

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jun 16, 2014 9:55PM

Michael Shakman
For the first time in 45 years City Hall will not need baby-sitting when it comes to political hirings and firings. A federal judge ruled the city is within “substantial compliance” with the Shakman Decrees which have cost taxpayers millions of dollars and put the city under a governmental microscope for the past several years.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier signed off on the motion filed jointly by Michael Shakman and federally-appointed hiring monitor Noelle Brennan last month but warned against any return to the old Chicago Way that led to the decrees in the first place.

“Substantial compliance does not mean the city has achieved a state of perfection,” he said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel praised Schenkier’s ruling and echoed the judge’s warning.

“Do I think…political hiring influencing the city is all over? No, because this is Chicago. Do I think that we have shown that we have professionalized our hiring on the best practices? Yes. And I think we have to stay vigilant on that effort,” said Emanuel.

Shakman filed his first lawsuit after a losing campaign to be a delegate to the 1970 Illinois Constitutional Convention revealed significant support for the Democratic incumbent among city workers eager to keep their jobs. Lawsuits eventually led to an agreement outlawing politically motivated hirings, firings, demotions or transfers. Subsequent rulings led to tighter restrictions governing patronage hires and punishment for not supporting political candidates. Brennan was appointed to monitor city hirings and firings in 2005 after a scandal involving Robert Sorich, a top aide to former Mayor Richard M. Daley. The cost to taxpayers to maintain the monitoring wound up costing taxpayers nearly $23 million.