Monday, May 19, 2014

What will we do without Shakman?

From Richard J. Daley ...
I became aware of City Hall as a little kid (Who could possibly ignore the persona of Richard J. Daley? Whom I saw live once when they dedicated the then-brand new Sears Tower), but started paying attention to the details (Jane Byrne moving into the Cabrini Green public housing complex) back when I was in high school.

I had a summer stint on a government payroll (the other side of the building, in county government) while in college during the Harold Washington era, and wrote my first stories about city government back when the name “Eugene Sawyer” (not the son) was relevant.

... through the Jane Byrne era, ...
OF COURSE, IT means I saw the whole era of Richard M. Daley in detail, and see the concept of Rahm Emanuel in its true context – a piece of an overall story, rather than an epic in and of itself.

Through all this, there has been one constant – city government officials have had to deal with (and I’m sure they thought it was an ordeal) the Shakman Decree.

As in the federal court order that has lasted through the decades that provides for outside oversight to ensure that the old ways of City Hall hiring people for political reasons withered away.

It was a 1969 lawsuit that resulted three years later in the court order that came to be known by the name of the attorney – Michael Shakman – who led the effort to try to make government hiring more honest and open.

... running through H.W., to ...
FROM MY PERSPECTIVE (and those of many other political observers), Shakman (the ruling) has been around for so long that it just seems like a part of the atmosphere around “the Hall.”

It seems hard to believe that soon, Shakman will be a bit of history. And maybe the day will come when people will wonder how we could have ever needed such oversight of the way government picked people for jobs?

... Eugene Sawyer; through the ...
It is such a regular part of the way things go that I’m still trying to comprehend how government will operate without it. Or, that the oversight for city government will now be merely the Inspector General’s office – just like many other government entities.

But it is reality.

... 'second coming' of Daley, ...
LAST WEEK, A federal judge started the clock on a 30-day period of review in which, if it works out the way things are expected, the Shakman decree will be allowed to lapse for city government.

Because the city was found to be “in substantial compliance” with the concept that people should be hired to work for city government because they are qualified for the job – and not because they knew somebody.

We should be pleased that our city government has reached such a level. It means that, despite all the rants we hear from certain elements of our society about how rotten and corrupt the officials are, it basically works. Besides, those people are mostly upset because government isn’t upholding their ideological hang-ups.

... to the modern-era of Rahm, ...
What I found interesting about last week’s actions was that officials acknowledged that “substantial compliance” isn’t the same as “perfect compliance.”

IT IS THE notion that there invariably will be something that violates the sensibilities of the goo-goos. That you can’t completely get away from political people hiring those they feel they can trust – particularly since we don’t seem to get offended when other companies hire people for similar reasons.

... Michael Shakman was THE constant
Check out the Chicago Sun-Times on Sunday, which reported how one-time Cook County Board President Todd Stroger was hired by 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins on a string of monthly contracts.

He may not be on the city payroll proper, but he’s getting city funds to basically serve as an advisor to Brookins. Who probably figures that the day will come when someone will allow him to hang around “the Hall” with a similar contract? But this is the exception; or so we’re told.

It took 45 years for the need for “Shakman” to wither away. The real test of how honest our city government has become will be how long we can go before a federal judge decides it needs to be resurrected.


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