Report: Chicago hiring still flawed

August 7, 2008 9:06:51 PM PDT
The city of Chicago gets a failing grade for not stopping politically connected hiring.A new report obtained by ABC7 says the city has not implemented court-ordered changes.

More than 50 years ago, one alderman said Chicago "ain't ready for reform." According to this report, it still ain't.

In settling the so-called Shakman case, the city of Chicago agreed to implement a new hiring plan that outlaws political clout. The new plan is being monitored by the federal government. The city was hoping to get the feds off its back by the end of the year. But that is highly unlikely, according to a new scathing report.

The report, filed Thursday, was written by Noelle Brennan. She is the federally appointed monitor who is overseeing the city's *new plan* for fair hiring practices. That plan has been in effect for more than a year. But according to the report, the city's department of human resources has failed to comply with certain provisions.

It states, "The department of human resources has failed to verify minimum qualifications for the senior manager hiring practices."

In other words, unqualified candidates are landing interviews for top city managing positions. Specifically: "under DHR's business practice, even candidates who did not claim to be qualified for a position would get referred for interviews."

The report also notes DHR's "failure to post existing job titles, qualifications and descriptions," saying, "the city has now refused to comply with this provision."

As part of the city's new hiring plan, the city is required to implement fair *testing* for positions. But according to the report, the city has failed to adhere to uniform testing practices, specifically stating: "the testing process is not fully serving the purpose of minimizing hiring manipulation."

"I'm not surprised in any way whatsoever," said Dan Sprehe, the chief investigator with the Better Government Association, a non-partisan government watchdog group. He says the report shows the city has a long way to go in shaping up hiring practices.

"It's a scathing report. It's completely indicative of what people have known for a long time, that the mayor was going to talk a big game, and then go back to business as usual," said Sprehe.

Sprehe says city officials should stop claiming they're making changes that aren't happening, and he predicted some serious fallout in the near future.

"I think the mayor has some serious questions to answer when he gets back from Beijing," Sprehe said.

A spokesperson for the city's law department says the new commissioner of the department of human resources is "committed to working closely with the monitor and city departments to ensure full compliance with the hiring plan."


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