Gary Washburn weighs in on Shakman Scams by Daley
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Daley defends city's hiring plan
He says decision on legality up to judge
By Gary Washburn | Tribune staff reporter
August 22, 2007
Mayor Richard Daley said Tuesday that a federal judge will decide whether a city hiring plan submitted last week passes legal muster, and he denied contentions that his administration is seeking to undercut the authority of the city's inspector general.
The hiring blueprint, drafted with a settlement of a long-running court fight over politics in city hiring, violates terms of the settlement, said attorney Michael Shakman, the plaintiff in the case.
The submission came despite the inability of Daley administration officials to agree with Shakman and Noelle Brennan -- whom the court appointed to monitor hiring after federal investigators uncovered a fraudulent scheme designed to reward people for political work -- on some of the plan's provisions.
"If the parties cannot agree, the judge will make a decision, simple as that," Daley said.
Shakman and Brennan have been at odds with the city over whether city Inspector General David Hoffman would oversee compliance with hiring procedures. Shakman charged last week that a new office of compliance, recently proposed by Daley, would usurp Hoffman's rightful role.
"We anticipate the two departments working together," Daley said Tuesday, adding that their functions would be as different as "night and day."
The compliance office would seek to prevent wrongdoing, Daley said.
It would "proactively identify all types of risk ... and find ways to mitigate that risk" to ensure compliance with local, state and federal laws and regulations, he said. The inspector general, by contrast, investigates allegations of misconduct.
"We are doing the same thing the federal government does [with the proposed office], and they have inspector generals the same way," Daley said.
But among other powers, the ordinance that would establish the office of compliance provides the authority to "receive and register complaints and information concerning non-compliance" and "investigate the performance of governmental officers, employees, functions and programs."
The city on Monday rejected a request by Shakman to withdraw the plan. Shakman said Tuesday that he plans to ask U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen to allow Brennan to submit her own recommendations to the court.
Ines Monte, a lawyer for Brennan, has said that Brennan agrees that the inspector general should be in charge of hiring compliance.
Touching on another subject, Daley skirted questions about the possibility of a teachers strike and called on negotiators to hammer out terms of a new contract.
"Everybody has to sacrifice," he said. "Everybody has to come together. ... I hope all the teachers understand this is a commitment by all of us ... to make the system work. Everyone has to roll up their sleeves."
Labor and City Hall sources have voiced concern about the possibility of a walk-out as negotiations between the Board of Education and Chicago Teachers Union drag on and the first day of the new school year approaches.
"People are pointing to Chicago, how well we are doing [in the classroom] compared to the rest of the country," Daley said. "We have to have confidence, and we have to make sure the schools open Sept. 4."
But Daley gave no indication that school board negotiators would back off a proposal for a longer school day.
Students receive only 25 hours of classroom instruction a week and "we have to do something about that," he said. Teachers "have to face reality, and we have to face reality."
Daley's comments came at a City Hall news conference at which he announced a second unpaid furlough day for senior city employees, the third belt-tightening effort since May