Friday, October 5, 2007

Nice work if you can keep it

Posted By on 10.05.07 at 09:48 PM

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It's hard not to conclude that the city's hiring process is a mess. 

Earlier this week court-appointed hiring monitor Noelle Brennan said that 1,451 former city employees had filed claims saying they'd been passed over for jobs or promotions because they didn't have political connections.

Then 50 employees in the Department of Human Resources found their jobs advertised on Craigslist. Their superiors told them they'd need to reapply for their positions and be willing to take reduced pay as part of a department reorganization.

A few weeks ago the City Council approved Mayor Daley's plan to create a new office to oversee compliance with fair-hiring rules, even though Human Resources and the Inspector General's Office are supposed to do that. Several aldermen who voted for the plan said they didn't like it but decided to go along with the mayor because it was clear he was going to win. Brennan, IG David Hoffman, and antipatronage attorney Michael Shakman all ripped the plan.

These incidents all show, once again, how difficult it is for city employees, aspiring city employees, advocates of good government, taxpayers, or the federal courts to grasp--let alone reform--the insular and often rigged employment process at the city of Chicago.

And anyone who gets in should make sure to keep their bosses and sponsors happy. Data acquired from the city's Human Resources Board show that when city workers are fired, they have little chance of winning their jobs back [scroll down to "The Coconut Brings in a Closer"].

Since 2002, 149 city workers have appealed their terminations. Thirty have had their punishments reduced to suspensions. Seven have won a complete reversal. The others have lost their jobs for good.

Meanwhile, the city has struggled to discipline abusive and corrupt cops, and Christopher Kozicki is protected by the mayor. And let's not even get into the mess in Cook County, where Patty Young, the girlfriend of commissioner William Beavers, worked briefly in the purchasing department this week. She denied having done so, saying "I don't know who offered  [the job] to me, but it wasn't enough money, so I didn't take it."  Young, on "stress leave" from CDOT, would have reported to the wife of Todd Stroger's best friend, who heads the department; Stroger's cousin Vincent Jones is a deputy there. 

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