Chicago Department of Human Relations Chief Axed

Read an excellent article by Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Daley hiring chief quits
February 1, 2008
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
The top mayoral aide charged with implementing a city hiring system free of politics is leaving her $147,156-a-year job — six weeks after a federal hiring monitor accused the city of regressing in its efforts.
Jacqueline King has decided to return to her old job as head of Graphics and Reproduction. Underlings welcomed her departure. City Hall sources said they had chafed under her autocratic management style.
Jacqueline King in 2006.
King ordered 50 employees to reapply for their old jobs — or risk being fired — in a reorganization tied to the switch to computerized scoring and screening of job applicants. Employees told the Chicago Sun-Times they felt "stunned and betrayed" after learning of their fate on the Internet site Craigslist.
"Without a doubt, she was a tough manager. There are people who don't like that. There are a lot of people who disagree with her management style and they'd like you to believe she was run out of there," said mayoral press secretary Jacquelyn Heard.
"I can tell you unequivocally she was not asked or forced to leave. This is her decision. She's tired of doing what she's been doing and she wants to go back to Graphics."
King could not be reached for comment. Heard denied that the change was tied to the monitor's report–or that it was a setback in the city's efforts to move beyond the city hiring scandal.
"If you read the monitor's last report, it had nothing bad to say about Jacky King," she said.
Federal monitor Noelle Brennan could not be reached for comment.
In her year-end report, Brennan accused the city of slipping backward — not with the "wholesale overt manipulation of interviews" on display during the federal corruption trial that culminated in the conviction of former patronage chief Robert Sorich, but with "other, more subtle types of manipulation of the hiring process."
Brennan said the alleged violations she uncovered in response to 685 complaints ran the gamut — from "hundreds" of city employees illegally "acting up" in higher-paid, temporary positions to the city's failure to "meaningfully enforce consequences for non-compliance."
The monitor branded as "an area of significant concern" Daley's failure to discipline current city employees "directly implicated in Shakman violations" during testimony at the Sorich trial.
"The city's ongoing failure to effectively monitor compliance with the reformed policy, coupled with the failure to take any disciplinary action when violations occur, is certain to result in on-going violations," she wrote.
A few weeks later, the federal judge who appointed Brennan agreed to let the Daley-created Office of Compliance oversee city hiring after Brennan's departure, instead of Inspector General David Hoffman.
But U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen included two major safeguards: that the hiring czar not be a current or former city employee and have no ties to Chicago politics, and that the city maintain a log to keep track of the times when the mayor's office or politicians lobby department heads for jobs.
The city has agreed to create a $12 million fund to compensate victims of the city's rigged hiring system.
Well written Fran Spielman, Patrick McDonough

2 Replies to “Chicago Department of Human Relations Chief Axed”

  1. No clout? This may finally be your day
    CITY HALL | About 1,400 who lost out on jobs will get money

    March 26, 2008

    BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter
    More than 1,500 people staked claims to the $12 million fund created to compensate victims of City Hall’s rigged hiring system.

    Today, as many as 1,400 of them will strike pay dirt. The $12 million pot of gold will run dry.

    Federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan plans to send out letters notifying plaintiffs of their awards.

    Her decisions are final and not subject to appeal, according to a settlement in the 35-year-old Shakman case approved by the City Council and a federal judge. The city will have 60 days to cut the checks.

    To qualify for cash, claimants had to prove they were bypassed for jobs and promotions since Jan. 1, 2000.

    “We ended up with about 1,500 submissions. Somewhere between 1,350 and 1,400 will be eligible for some award,” Brennan said last week.

    The monitor refused to say whether anyone would receive the $100,000 maximum. With 1,400 claimants, the average award would be $8,571.

    Attorney Michael Shakman filed the landmark lawsuit that was supposed to end political hiring and firing but never did.

    Shakman said Tuesday he’s not surprised that Brennan has exhausted the $12 million fund.

    “The scale was massive,” he said. “There were wholesale violations of the rules on political hiring, promotions and discharge.”

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