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Attorney who defended county is new watchdog
COOK COUNTY | Fought Shakman hiring suit

Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times
by MARK J. KONKOL

Can the attorney who defended Cook County against allegations of illegal political hiring be an effective independent inspector general?

Well, that depends on how you define independent.

The way attorney Michael Shakman sees it, picking Assistant State's Attorney Patrick Blanchard to be the watchdog over county political hiring and other illegal activity "makes a joke out of the concept of independent oversight."

County commissioners disagreed, voting 10-3 to approve Blanchard's appointment as inspector general Tuesday.

Blanchard defended the county against Shakman's patronage-busting lawsuit, which ended in a settlement that will pay 105 county workers a total of $3.2 million. Shakman testified that Blanchard's appointment clearly says, "Cook County is not ready for patronage reform."

"You cannot be a lawyer for a party accused of illegal misconduct in federal lawsuits and then take off your lawyer's hat and begin to enforce against your former clients the very rules your former clients were accused of violating," he said.

Commissioners Mike Quigley, Timothy Schneider and Elizabeth Doody Gorman voted against Blanchard's appointment.

Commissioners who supported Blanchard said they picked the best candidate selected in an independent, nationwide search


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