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Shakman urges federal review of hiring practices

Monday, August 01, 2005
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County's hiring practices could come under the scrutiny of a federal judge, in light of a Chicago Sun-Times report of a "clout list" being used to influence hiring and promotions in county government.

Michael Shakman, an attorney who successfully fought to remove politics from personnel decisions in most government jobs, said Sunday that "now is probably a good time" for a judge to review Cook County hiring procedures.

Sunday, the Sun-Times showed parts of a "clout list" that was reportedly created and updated by employees of Cook County Commissioner Roberto Maldonado.

'Clout list' updated, sources say

It shows names and titles of those seeking jobs or those already "placed" in county jobs, with some comments about political activity.

It also includes names of "coordinators" who Maldonado admitted are or were key coordinators in his political campaigns.

The list includes entries like "refused to work election day. Placed in tough shift" and "I'm not int. in pushing this. Pol production does not seserve" (sic).

Maldonado, shown the list last week, denied ever creating it, ordering its creation or even seeing it.

The file, named "robertoreport2," is from 1998 and includes 100 names, but sources said the list has been regularly updated.

About half the people on the list still hold county government jobs.

In February, the Sun-Times asked all 17 county commissioners for any lists they keep of people they recommended for county government jobs, and Maldonado was one of 10 who did not respond.

Maldonado, a rising Democrat from Chicago's Northwest Side who is also 26th Ward committeeman, declined to comment Sunday.

Last week, Maldonado also denied he'd ever called a county official to request a job for a political supporter, saying, "I have no clout."

But multiple county officials said they've received calls from Maldonado about jobs.

Though county officials denied politics are used in making hiring decisions, Shakman said given the indictments of multiple city officials for fixing city hiring, "if it's true county hiring is at least in part patronage-driven, this is probably an excellent environment in which to flush it out."

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