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Pritzker administration fires back at Shakman

Wednesday, Oct 14, 2020

* Coming a bit late to this Cook County Record story

A group of Chicago lawyers, who for decades have helped lead the effort to combat patronage hiring in Springfield and Chicago, have asked a federal judge to hold off for at least six months on a request by Gov. JB Pritzker to end court oversight of state hiring practices, saying it will allow time to learn the truth of the governor’s claims that the state has fixed the decades-old patronage problems.

Late last month, attorney Michael Shakman and his associates in the firm of Miller Shakman Levine & Feldman LLP and Locke Lord LLP, all of Chicago, filed a brief in Chicago federal court, pushing back on Pritzker’s patronage claims. […]

Shakman said he and his co-plaintiffs wish to eventually end the oversight, just as the governor does.

But they said that can only come when the state institutes a new system, with strong rules and penalties for failure to follow them.

Shakman said he and his associates “want to finish the job, not prolong it.”

“But they (the Shakman plaintiffs), and the classes they represent, are entitled to assurance that whatever plans and practices the State adopts will provide a durable remedy warranting termination of the Decree, and not be just one more of the many official State acknowledgments that patronage practices need to stop, unsupported by effective enforcement mechanisms and sanctions for non-compliance,” he said.

Shakman said he would like the judge to reject Pritzker’s motion to end oversight under the decrees.

However, he said, for now, the Shakman plaintiffs would ask the court to also consider putting Pritzker’s request on hold for six months. That, he said, would allow Brennan to “gather the facts necessary” to help the judge decide whether or not Pritzker’s assertions concerning continued state government patronage hiring are correct.

* I asked the Pritzker administration for a response. I didn’t think I’d get one, but here’s Jordan Abudayyeh…

In their effort to keep this case going, the Plaintiffs are making arguments that ignore the facts and the law.

After six years of work, the Special Master and the State have finished all of the tasks ordered by the Court – creating a list of all exempt positions and an Exempt Hiring Plan.

Now, Plaintiffs want to oversee (and demand changes to) all employment policies – including provisions required in collective bargaining agreements. And they demand that the State implement an electronic hiring system, which they also want to monitor until they have decided it meets their standards.

But they can’t identify any reason under federal law to allow their requests. So, their last ditch argument is to ask the Court for just six more months – without ever explaining why six years is not enough, but six and a half is.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

19 Comments »
  1. - Al - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 2:56 pm:

    People matter. The Governor has Not replaced key Human Resource staff. We need to keep the oversight in place.


  2. - don the legend - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 2:58 pm:

    “But they (the Shakman plaintiffs), and the classes they represent, are entitled to assurance…

    But I must have strict assurance from Pritzker. As time goes by and his position becomes stronger, will he attempt any individual vendetta?


  3. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:04 pm:

    What a legalistic response - after this state’s pathetic history, with an ongoing investigation of the patronage king himself, why isn’t the burden on them to explain why the state is better off without their oversight?


  4. - Lincoln Lad - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:10 pm:

    Sounds like a desire to bill for 6 more months to me.


  5. - MG85 - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:17 pm:

    Hey, we are in a pandemic folks and everyone is looking for work. Even high priced attorneys.


  6. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:22 pm:

    Do you know that Shakman’s attorneys bill government entities over $600 an hour to monitor their compliance with the Shakman Decrees? If that isn’t incentive to keep the case going, I don’t know what is.


  7. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:29 pm:

    === What a legalistic response - after this state’s pathetic history, with an ongoing investigation of the patronage king himself, why isn’t the burden on them to explain why the state is better off without their oversight? ===

    1. This is a lawsuit so of course their response would be “legalistic” or based on the law.

    2. The burden is not on them since that was not the nature of the judge’s previous order.

    3. If there were continuing violations of the Shakman Decree by the Pritzker Administration, there is no way the judge would allow them to terminate oversite. Let’s see what Judge Chang says.


  8. - ;) - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:32 pm:

    Shakman has been milking taxpayers for decades now.


  9. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:37 pm:

    I feel like the durable solution is a percentage of salary dollars (1%?) that can go to Shakman-exempt positions. If that can be established by court order or legislation, it can be measured, monitored, and enforced.


  10. - Chicago - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:37 pm:

    That sounds like a statement supportive of collective bargaining agreements…hopefully they will continue to be supportive of those for all government employees including the brave men and women who serve as our police officers.


  11. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    “Shakman has been milking taxpayers for decades now.”

    Not as long as patronage machines have been violating the US Constitution (freedom of association) and Illinois statutes (veteran’s preference).


  12. - Powdered Whig - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 3:42 pm:

    === I feel like the durable solution is a percentage of salary dollars (1%?) that can go to Shakman-exempt positions. If that can be established by court order or legislation, it can be measured, monitored, and enforced. ===

    This doesn’t make any sense especially when considering the law. Whether a position is Shakman Exempt depends on the nature of the position, not some percentage of total personnel budget.


  13. - Legal Crooks - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 4:08 pm:

    All the criticisms of Michael Shakman and his little shakedown racket are on point. Takes years to get these leeches to complete their job, all the while bilking taxpayers. The court should set a strict time limit to meet compliance and then boot these legalized thieves!


  14. - Excitable Boy - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 4:53 pm:

    - Sounds like a desire to bill for 6 more months to me. -

    Bingo. Just a transition period between grifts.


  15. - Curious George - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 5:18 pm:

    Why can’t the Governor fill all open positions, as long as Shakman is in force, he must abide, what happens and who gets those positions when Shakman sunsets? Favors to Madigan


  16. - thechampaignlife - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 6:56 pm:

    ===This doesn’t make any sense especially when considering the law. Whether a position is Shakman Exempt depends on the nature of the position, not some percentage of total personnel budget.===

    So change the law. The nature of the position is too subjective, which is how we ended up in this situation. If we just acknowledge that some percentage of political hiring will happen, we can define how much we will spend on it, and then let the Gov figure out how to allocate that money. Maybe it is more lower wage people, or maybe it is a few senior people. This way compliance is far more black-and-white.


  17. - Dutch - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 7:42 pm:

    I agree with Al. And I agree the costs pertaining to Shakman are insane. But this line sums it up for me, “But they said that can only come when the state institutes a new system, with strong rules and penalties for failure to follow them.” Until that day comes, the federal monitoring needs to stay in place.


  18. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 10:24 pm:

    that’s abusive law firm mentality. you’ve finished the assignment, associate, but we just decided we want to give you more. because we want to control you. ridiculous.


  19. - Candy Dogood - Wednesday, Oct 14, 20 @ 11:39 pm:

    ===So change the law. ===

    Sort of a moot point when the state historically hasn’t followed the law on hiring.

    ===The Governor has Not replaced key Human Resource staff.===

    This is horrifically accurate. One should question the ability of an HR director or other senior official who was first hired by the State of Illinois under Thompson’s illegal patronage scheme that required them to either be an active supporter of GOP candidates or to literally cut checks to fund raisers in order to obtain their initial state employment to recognize that their entire career was founded on an illegal and unconstitutional hiring, and not based off of merit.

    It’s a hard thing for someone to look themselves in the mirror at the height of their career progression just a few years away from retirement and recognize that they never should have been hired by their employer in the first place — and that their position was stolen from a rightfully qualified employee that didn’t “play the game” by lining the pockets of Thompson’s machine.

    ===But they can’t identify any reason under federal law to allow their requests.===

    I’m a supporter of the Pritzker administration, but I think the obvious need for an extension of outside oversight is the decades of repetitive failures on the part of the State of Illinois to correct it’s illegal hiring practices.

    I think every agency should be required to create a list of the non-union public service administrators and senior public service administrators that contains their highest level of educational achievement.

    The number of people filling those positions without a 4 year degree is horrifying and suggestive of a hiring system that is fundamentally flawed.


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