March 21, 2007 (CHICAGO) - A federal judge on Wednesday approved a preliminary settlement between the city of Chicago and attorneys representing the Shakman decree, which bans political hiring for all but about 1,000 of the city's 38,000 employees.
U.S. District Judge Wayne Andersen asked both sides to return to court on May 31 for a hearing on whether to give final approval to the settlement, which would also require approval from the Chicago City Council.
The 1983 decree resulted from a lawsuit filed more than 30 years ago by attorney Michael Shakman, who has feuded with City Hall over patronage abuses ever since.
The city has tried in court to get out from under the ban.
In 2005, Andersen appointed a federal monitor to keep an eye on city hiring after Mayor Richard M. Daley's former patronage chief was arrested on charges that he and others conspired to rig the city's hiring process. They were convicted last summer by a federal jury.
The court-appointed monitor concluded in December 2006 that while there had been improvements at City Hall to reform hiring, there remained "pockets of resistance" from employees and a small group of aldermen who "have openly expressed a preference for a patronage system," where jobs are doled out based on political loyalty, the monitor's report said.
That court-appointed monitor has said the Shakman decree had been violated almost since its inception.
Daley has defended his administration's efforts to clean up city hiring.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)