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Chicago aldermen: We're confused about political hiring rules

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Chicago aldermen are complaining about strict rules meant to restrict political favoritism in city hiring. The topic came up during a budget hearing Thursday with the inspector general.

The decades-long Shakman court dispute means - in most cases - the city can’t hire a less qualified applicant just because, for example, they did political work for an alderman. Some aldermen told the city’s inspector general they’re confused about the rules, and nervous they’ll get in trouble for recommending a constituent for a job.

“We can recommend very fine people,” said Ald. George Cardenas (12). “Because we run into them on a daily basis.”

“In this day of trickery and wires and all that,” said Ald. Deborah Graham (29). “Something’s in the air all the time.”

“I’ll be damned if they’ll try to run me out of office for trying to help out people that don’t have jobs,” Ald. Joe Moreno (1) said.

“Give me a sample of [an appropriate recommendation] letter so that I don’t cross the line,” said Ald. Carrie Austin (34), budget committee chair.

The inspector general, Joseph Ferguson, told aldermen he understands their confusion about political hiring. He said he’ll work with the court-appointed hiring monitor and the human resources department to see if there is a way for aldermen to legally and ethically recommend people for city jobs.

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