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Report: Patronage claims outline 'devastating' effects

Thursday, July 26, 2007
Daily Southtown
by The Associated Press

Allegations of political patronage in some complaints filed with Cook County's hiring monitor outline "devastating" effects on county workers, according to a report filed in federal court.
In her report filed Wednesday, county hiring monitor Julia Nowicki notes 119 former and current county employees have filed claims alleging they were politically discriminated against during the past three years.
Nowicki said in the report she hasn't investigated all the claims and can't yet say whether they're accurate.
"If claimants are to be believed, the effects of patronage within certain departments has had a significant negative effect on the workers; in some cases the alleged effects are devastating," she said, though she did not give details.
"If the information from these sources is to be believed, it describes enduring patronage practices in many of the departments in the County," she wrote.
Nowicki was appointed last fall to make sure political influence isn't a factor in Cook County employment decisions. The report is the first of two she plans this year. She is investigating complaints from August 2004 to February 2007 and can award money to people who can show they were the victims of political discrimination.
About half of the 119 complaints came from the county health system and allege politically connected employees were given promotions and overtime over their non-connected colleagues.
Federal prosecutors have been investigating the county's hiring practices. In September, the FBI raided the county building and hauled away records. No charges have been brought.


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