Rethinking Chicago and political patronage

Jun 17, 2014

  A historic federal court ruling Monday means Chicago will no longer have a federal monitor guarding against political hiring at City Hall. As IPR’s Alex Keefe reports, it marks the end of the decades-old Shakman lawsuit.

Attorney Michael Shakman first sued the Cook County Democratic Party in 1969 - for using city employees to work on campaigns.  

What followed was 45 years of litigation - and a series of court orders known as the “Shakman decrees.” Monday, Shakman says they’ve made great headway in taking politics out of city hiring. "Is patronage dead? No. But is it in a position where it can be controlled, limited and eventually reduced close to zero? We’re heading in that direction."

Monday's ruling means City Hall will no longer have to pay for an outside monitor to watch over hiring decisions. 

But Mayor Rahm Emanuel acknowledges it’s not the end of patronage. "This is an evolution, not a revolution. Every day we gotta earn the trust. Our politics in the past cost the taxpayers real money."

Oversight of City Hall hiring now shifts to Chicago’s inspector general.