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Proviso Probe

Friday, July 27, 2007

Shakman exempt positions in Cook County government

Daily Herald (Rob Olmstead):
[The court-appointed monitor, Julia Nowicki, a former Cook County judge] also recommended that so-called exempt positions -- or those where the president can hire and fire at will -- be publicized by employee name. Nowicki did not cite it specifically, but critics have complained that administrators sometimes hire people to an exempt position and then shift them to a non-protected position to get around anti-political hiring safeguards.

"Thus far, the (compliance administrator's) requests for transparency have been met with mixed results," noted Nowicki. "The county has agreed to place on its Web site the list of exempt positions by department. Unfortunately, it has declined to post the names of the individuals holding the particular position."

I applied for a county job a few months ago. I got a letter saying to reapply after the hiring freeze ended.

Obviously the county has hired plenty of people since the hiring freeze was put in place. This article suggests how the politically connected are able to evade the hiring freeze. The politically connected are hired for exempt positions which are presumably exempt from both Shakman and the hiring freeze. Once in the system the politically connected are reprogrammed to non-exempt positions.

I remember asking Todd Stroger about the hiring freeze when he was running for office. Stroger's explanation for people getting hired in spite of the hiring freeze was that positions included in the budget weren't affected by the hiring freeze.

Back to the original article, Nowicki is right to demand transparency in who has the exempt jobs. The Nyberg observation on corruption is that to reduce corruption an organization needs to reduce conflicts of interest and increase transparency.

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