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Yarbrough may face federal court hiring oversight

Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019

* Tribune with the scoop

Less than a year into office, Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough faces potential federal court oversight of hiring amid a watchdog’s accusations that she’s “running an illegal patronage employment system.”

Veteran anti-patronage attorney Michael Shakman said in a new legal filing that Yarbrough has put the politically connected into jobs that are supposed to be free from such influence, asked her employees for campaign contributions on their private cellphones and transferred certain supervisors to far-flung offices in hopes they’ll quit.

Yarbrough, who was under federal court oversight in her previous job as recorder of deeds, called Shakman’s latest allegations “outrageous” and “preposterous.” […]

Shakman is asking U.S. Magistrate Judge Sidney Schenkier to appoint the first-ever federal monitor in the clerk’s office to investigate and recommend reforms as well as examine hiring and personnel practices under Yarbrough. At a Wednesday hearing, Schenkier ordered Yarbrough to file a formal response in 30 days and asked the two sides to discuss potential information available about the disputed matters for further review.

Go read the details before commenting, please.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

20 Comments »
  1. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:04 am:

    Shakman has been licking his chops at getting another shot at Yarbrough ever since she left the Recorder’s Office. I’m guessing that this will be a long and bloody court battle.


  2. - Practical Politics - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 10:07 am:

    I have often wondered about the propriety of Yarbrough serving as Cook County Clerk (charged with supervising elections in suburban Cook County) while she continues to serve as a committeeperson on the Cook County Democratic Central Committee.


  3. - Amalia - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 11:01 am:

    when you have to defend a family member’s qualifications by saying they worked for Joe Berrios, you’ve got issues.


  4. - Roman - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 11:01 am:

    There’s an important unanswered question here. David Orr did not have a Shakman monitor when he was clerk, but did the office have a court-approved list of Shakman exempt employment positions? If not, then Yarbrough was flying blind when she came into office. It would be difficult for her to avoid accusations of improper politically-motivated hiring and firing decisions if she didn’t know what spots were protected. She has a right to move out Orr’s top people and move her’s in.

    Then again, I don’t want to give her too much leeway. If no exempt list existed, or even if one did and she thought it needed updating, she should have worked on that during the very long transition period she had before taking office. There’s a cottage industry of Shakman attorneys out there. She could of hired one of them to provide her with an opinion on what positions were exempt and which were Shakman protected. Looks like she decided to follow the “ask for forgiveness, not permission” path.


  5. - the Edge - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 11:13 am:

    So, she has a former police chief as a driver and general go-do-stuff-for-her? Why?


  6. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 11:31 am:

    === So, she has a former police chief as a driver and general go-do-stuff-for-her? Why? ===

    I believe that he is the Chief of Security - not just a gopher.


  7. - the Edge - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 12:05 pm:

    Security? Really? Come on. A Clerk? Really? Sorry, but I can’t find a rational explanation why a person in charge of elections needs security. Gees, its as bizarre as Ald Burke and is security explanation, which went way too far for way to long.


  8. - qualified someone nobody sent - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 12:57 pm:

    She’s a long history of Shakman violations at the Recorder of Deeds office. Blatant violations that show a complete disregard for anti-patronage laws not unlike former Assessor Berrios who in 2012 got that office DEEPER into Shakman oversight. Cook County Democratic Party officials both too. Ironic?


  9. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 1:30 pm:

    === Security? Really? Come on. A Clerk? Really? Sorry, but I can’t find a rational explanation why a person in charge of elections needs security. ===

    Well, you may not like it, but it is her prerogative to decide how to organize her office. If people like yourself don’t think its a good use of resources, you have a vote next time that position is up for election.


  10. - O well - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough had 8 years as Recorder of Deeds to satisfy the requirements of the Shakman Decree. She failed to end politics as Recorder and probably fail to do so as Clerk.


  11. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    I’m not justifying any of Yarbrough’s hiring decisions. HOWEVER, I think it’s incumbent upon the media to mention Michael Shakman’s role in this. He has a vested interest in a Shakman monitor and to keep the litigation going for as long as possible. He’s collected millions in legal fees as a result of it and wants that keep milking that cash cow.


  12. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 1:56 pm:

    * to keep


  13. - Long over due. - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 2:37 pm:

    Everyone knows Yarbrough’s M.O. Good for Shakman and the taxpayers of Cook County.


  14. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    === Everyone knows Yarbrough’s M.O. Good for Shakman and the taxpayers of Cook County. ===

    Actually its not good for the taxpayers of Cook County. If a monitor is put in place that will be millions of dollars of legal fees a year that they will be on the hook for.


  15. - revvedup - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 3:20 pm:

    So someone who didn’t comply with the decree in her old job is accused of non-compliance again? Shakman is right; a monitor should be appointed. The ongoing political corruption of Crook County government must end.


  16. - qualified someone nobody sent - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 3:25 pm:

    This IS GOOD for the taxpayers of Cook County, especially the ones who happen to work for these Cook County offices. Money spent to prevent POLITICAL decisions on hiring, firing, promotion, demotion and discipline, etc. is money well spent. However, hiring an UNNECESSARY security chief who’s already collecting a Police pension and now working on a County pension doesn’t seem like taxpayer money well spent.


  17. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 4:07 pm:

    Seeing a lot of new handles on here. I wonder how many are interns in Shakman’s law office…


  18. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 4:22 pm:

    === This IS GOOD for the taxpayers of Cook County, especially the ones who happen to work for these Cook County offices. Money spent to prevent POLITICAL decisions on hiring, firing, promotion, demotion and discipline, etc. is money well spent. However, hiring an UNNECESSARY security chief who’s already collecting a Police pension and now working on a County pension doesn’t seem like taxpayer money well spent. ===

    People who are discriminated against based on politics already have remedies at their disposal - they can file federal lawsuits to address their claims - just like everywhere else in America. Look at the amount of money spent by each of the offices that had Shakman compliance monitors. Also, I can tell you that they simply do not monitor for political discrimination they want to basically tell you how you can run your office.

    I am not excusing patronage hiring, but I do think the money spent on monitoring is a complete waste IMHO.This is money that can be spent on critical programs but instead is lining the pockets of those involved in this cottage industry.


  19. - Long Over Due - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 7:05 pm:

    -I wonder how many are interns in Shakman’s law office.-

    Funny, I was thinking you were one of Yarbrough’s precinct captains.


  20. - 1969 - Wednesday, Sep 11, 19 @ 9:35 pm:

    Shakman has been eating at the trough of government for 50 years now so I guess one more office to provide for his great grand children is needed. 50 years


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