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Pritzker to appeal latest Shakman decision

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2021 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Cook County Record

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker has indicated he will appeal a federal judge’s decision refusing to allow his administration to get out from under federal oversight of allegedly corrupt state hiring practices.

On April 26, the Illinois Attorney General’s office filed a notice in Chicago federal court, indicating their intention to appeal a decision from late March from U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang.

The notice does not indicate the basis of the appeal, nor what precisely the governor seeks to challenge in Chang’s March 31 ruling. Neither has the attorney general yet filed any briefs on behalf of the governor with the U.S. Seventh Circuit of Appeals.

However, the anticipated appeal would continue Pritzker’s efforts to toss aside decades-long review of federal oversight, intended to reduce instances of allegedly politically motivated and unfair hiring practices at various state agencies under the governor’s supervision.

In 2020, Pritzker and his fellow Democrat, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, filed motions before Judge Chang, arguing the federal oversight was no longer needed, because the state had corrected the patronage hiring and employment problems targeted by a series of federal court orders.

That federal oversight has been in place, in some fashion, since at least 1972, when federal judges first sided with anti-corruption reform advocates, Chicago lawyers Michael Shakman and Paul Lurie.

* From Jordan Abudayyeh…

The governor is deeply committed to ensuring all state hiring and employment practices are conducted with the highest ethical standards and is proud to have built the most diverse administration in Illinois history with experts in their fields. Ethics and fairness are top priorities for the governor and as the court has made clear, this administration has made substantial progress on those priorities in state employment practices.

The state believes it has met all objectives of the 1972 Shakman Consent Decree in the decades since it was put in place and the continuation of the Decree is both unnecessarily costly and beyond its original scope. In fact, Judge Edmond Chang noted that the state has made significant progress, particularly in the last two years under the Pritzker administration.

* Background info…

• Since 1972 when the decree was entered, the state has met the objectives of the Decree, particularly given the substantial progress made under the Pritzker administration. Plaintiffs are attempting to keep the Decree in place by broadening its scope far beyond the original specific terms.
• In its ruling on the state’s request to dismiss the case, Judge Chang wrote: “Nor does the Court downplay the significant progress made by the State, especially in the past two years, toward implementing a durable remedy. Indeed, as the implementation of the CEP continues, and as HEM continues its efforts and—it is hoped—increases its impact on State agencies, then the Court would be receptive to consider another motion to terminate in the last quarter of this year.”
• The Shakman Consent Decree has been in place since 1972, an unusually lengthy period of time during which many other governments have exited the Shakman Decree.
• Federalism and federal court jurisdiction dictates that federal courts should not be involved in State operations longer than necessary, as is the case here.
• Earlier this month, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decided a separate Shakman appeal that reinforced this argument. There, the Court expressed “the grave federalism concerns we have with the fact that [a local government] has been under the thumb of a federal consent decree for the last 50 years.” Op. at 17. It explained that “[s]uch entrenched federal oversight should have raised red flags long ago.” Id. The Court of Appeals concluded by stating plainly that “[i]t is time to get these cases off the federal docket ….” Id. at 19.
• Changes to the law of “standing” since 1972 mean the plaintiffs no longer have standing as they are not directly affected by the State’s action, a requirement of modern standing jurisprudence.


  1. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:16 am:

    Has anyone asked Pat Quinn what he’d do?

  2. - Cluster - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:22 am:

    Not a bad strategy considering the 7th Circuit’s opinion in the County Clerk’s case.

  3. - Anon E Moose - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:26 am:

    Consent decrees should go on for 52 years.

  4. - Anon E Moose - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:26 am:


  5. - Donnie Elgin - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:29 am:

    Nice to see a judge respecting federalism and the 10th amendment…

    “the Court expressed “the grave federalism concerns we have with the fact that [a local government] has been under the thumb of a federal consent decree for the last 50 years”

  6. - Bothanspied - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:36 am:

    The decree was important. The execution was/is a miserable failure. Let me tell you about the hiring/interviewing process in a Shankman world.

    1. The interviewer cannot view a candidate’s resume. CMS determines if the candidate is qualified. You cannot ask about an specific experience or role, not that you would know because you have not seen the resume.

    2. Interview questions are prepared in advance for the role. All interviewees are asked the exact same questions, with the exact same wording, in the exact same order.

    3. Follow-up questions are not allowed unless they are asked of all the interviewees. Clarification questions are allowed but you need to be careful when toeing that line.

    4. Corrolary to above. If you suspect the interviewee may be lying or exaggerating their skill in response to a question, you have no recourse to clarify or challenge.

    5. You score each response to each question in a standardized manner. You only judge the response given. If a candidate says they know SQL, for example, then they know SQL. Nevermind that you have a suspicion that they don’t have that skill. You can’t ask the follow up question. Based on the response of knowing a skill and if that was the basic question, you would have to award them full points.

    6. Interviews are typically done with a panel. You must document your best recollection of the interview answers. The scores are compared and deviation from the mean score will be (or should be under Shankman rules from CMS) challenged.

    I could go on, but what’s the point?

  7. - City Guy - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:39 am:

    If I was a judge, I would only lift the Shakman order until there was true comprehensive reform of hiring and related processes.

    The interview and selection process is not geared to hiring the best candidate. Unless it has changed, candidates could only be evaluated based on answers to a limited number of pre-established questions during an interview. You couldn’t use their resume to score them. If you asked two people if they had college degrees and both say yes; they are scored the same.

    The veterans preference is an absolute preference that gives the job to a veteran who meets the minimum threshold not to the best candidate. (I have never understood how that has challenged for discriminating against people with disabilities and others who could not serve in the military.)

    While not related to Shakman, the State also does poorly when it comes to classifications, discipline, termination, and other HR matters.

  8. - ;) - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 9:59 am:

    Finally. The Shakman cases were ridiculous on their face to begin with, and Shakman himself has become his own patronage boss through them bilking the state, county, and city, out of millions upon millions of dollars; they have served only to make government not work and incapable of addressing actual government services, while also truly disenfranchising people.

  9. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:04 am:

    Bothanspied - Agree with most everything except this “Clarification questions are allowed …” IDOT interviews have not allowed clarification questions. The interviewer will re-read the question only.

    IDOT does allow a resume attached to the application and is supposed to be taken into account.

  10. - Cluster - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:10 am:

    “If I was a judge”

    But you are not. The issues in the Shakman case have been completely blown up well beyond what is necessary. If people are discriminated against because of politics, they have a remedy: Go file a lawsuit for a violation of the First Amendment like happens everywhere else in this Country.

  11. - thisjustinagain - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:19 am:

    Long-running Court orders or agreements are nothing new for Illinois; DHS/HFS was under one for some 45 years due to continued non-compliance with Federal law and the orders. Without proof of correction, there is no need to dissolve orders or agreements, no matter how long it takes. And it’s not like Illinois politics has been free of corruption since in any case; the political hirings and appointments continue, and come in Federal indictments time and time again.

  12. - DougChicago - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:27 am:

    Wonderful news. Noelle Brennan has bilked the taxpayers for enough.

  13. - Al - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:34 am:

    Bothanspied outlined a good portion of the problem. The other problem which is routine at multiple agencies is the forced interviewing of candidates determined to be Unqualified by the Bureau Chief and then the hiring of the Unqualified for top dollar, despite being ranked fifth out of five interviews. The Human Resource and Labor Relations positions are under crazy mob control. They just want to hire their grade school friends.

  14. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:37 am:

    == Noelle Brennan has bilked the taxpayers for enough. ==

    And gobbled up a ton of power in state government with almost no oversight and absolutely no democratic legitimacy.

  15. - walker - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:51 am:

    Somehow most attempts to reform government evolve over time into bureaucratic processes which create worse government practices and outcomes than before.

    Claiming that decades-long interventions should be kept in place, because we are still corrupt, does not make a very good argument for the supposed solutions.

  16. - Alice - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 10:59 am:

    Bothanspied- does this mean the answers in the interview are the only answers that count and the resume/application only gets you the interview and is not looked at after? Am I interrupting that wrong?

  17. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 11:00 am:

    Bothanspied makes a case. The net effect of all the hiring rules and regulations, designed to minimize patronage and favoritism, is to dumb down State government. Unfortnately many less than qualified employees gain employment then union protection. Often senior management are short-term political appointees with little interest in the details of day-to-day work. Middle managers are stuck in-between, accountable for the work, results, etc. Heck of a way to run a business.

  18. - Medvale School for the Gifted - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 11:17 am:

    ‘The Shakman Hustle’ would make a great COWL skit.

  19. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 11:25 am:

    ==does this mean the answers in the interview are the only answers that count and the resume/application only gets you the interview and is not looked at after?==

    That is correct.

  20. - Frumpy White Guy - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 11:39 am:

    Why is private jet and nepotism guy Mike Shakman and his son the only one making the big bucks? Is it time for the FBI to start looking into the billing and internal working of this racket?

  21. - Payback - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 12:17 pm:

    The following is from the press release on the IL AG website from Jan. 14, 2019, when Raoul was sworn in: “Raoul highlighted Illinois’ diverse population and the work of the Attorney General’s Office to block misguided federal policies that violate the rights of Illinoisans.” So I guess that means Raoul must think that Shakman is a misguided federal policy? Or maybe repealing the decree is just what’s best for Gov Pritzker?

    In addition to not being any sort of reformer, I don’t see how anyone could take Raoul’s pose as a corruption fighter seriously when he has Kim Janas as his chief of staff. The IL AG office is a fluffed up Better Business Bureau at most.

  22. - EssentialStateEmployeeFromChatham - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 12:19 pm:

    ==‘The Shakman Hustle’ would make a great COWL skit.==

    With Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” as the theme song. That song was on the Top 40 during part of the time Quinn was Walker’s patronage chief.

  23. - thisjustinagain - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 7:40 pm:

    Yes, as Payback - Wednesday, Apr 28, 21 @ 12:17 pm said, anything daring to hold Illinois elected officials or anyone else accountable gets in the way of their politics. KR couldn’t find State corruption, or act against failed Cook Co. prosecutor Kim Foxx as allowed by State law, but he’s gonna complain that the Feds are “interfering”?? Predictable and laughable position.

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