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County hiring reform needed

Monday, September 08, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times

Heard the good news? Patronage hiring is dead in Cook County government.

Over. Finished. Kaput.

So says the spokesman for Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

What a relief.

The death notice came last week, after the County Board agreed to spend $3.2 million to settle more than 100 claims from people who said that they didn't get a county job or promotion because of politics. To be fair, the vast majority of claims came under the administration of Stroger's late father, John.

A court-appointed county hiring monitor, unwilling to close shop quite yet, is asking the current Stroger administration to impose some reforms to ensure patronage hiring doesn't spring back from the dead.

Like providing a list of job descriptions for all county employees.

And creating a politics-free way to evaluate how county employees are doing in their jobs.

The county should embrace all the suggested reforms. Officials should view patronage hiring as a clever monster, and the reforms as silver bullets.

You've seen monster movies. You know the drill: Near the end of the flick, you think the monster is dead. The good guys have shot it, stabbed it, smashed it, hurled it into a fiery pit.

The village fool comes out and merrily announces, "The monster is dead."

But darn if that monster doesn't get up one more time, for another lunge at the jugular.

Or in this case, another lunge at taxpayers' wallets.

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