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Rahm Expects IG To Help End Federal Oversight of Hiring, Then Go

By Ted Cox | September 4, 2013 3:07pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he expects Inspector General Joseph Ferguson to be done with his duties in a year.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he expects Inspector General Joseph Ferguson to be done with his duties in a year.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

ENGLEWOOD — The mayor said reappointing the city's inspector general was only common sense, but added that he expects him to leave office in a year after solving one of Chicago's longest-running legal disputes — the notorious Shakman Decree governing political hiring and firing.

The Mayor's Office announced Tuesday that IG Joseph Ferguson would stay on.

"As I always said, we have to have a meeting. We had a meeting," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday at a news conference in Englewood. The two met last Friday and hammered out Ferguson's next term after his original four-year appointment was to expire in November.

"Joe and I share the same vision," Emanuel said. "We're very close to eliminating the Shakman Decree.

"IG Ferguson said it would be done in about a year," Emanuel said. "That's what he offered up and said we'd be done, and that's what we agreed to."

Ferguson confirmed that in a statement, saying, "The mayor and I had a very productive discussion and I thank him for agreeing to allow me to continue to work on wrapping up some unfinished projects, most notably achieving Shakman compliance and fully implementing the administration’s ethics-reform bill. I expect we can do that by the end of [next] summer, and then I plan to move on to other things."

The City Council's Progressive Reform Caucus cheered the reappointment. Ald. John Arena (45th) said Ferguson's new term "will promote greater continuity and accountability as the city seeks to end federal hiring oversight under the Shakman Decree."

The Shakman Decree stems from a lawsuit filed more than 40 years ago by Michael Shakman against the city, Cook County and the Cook County Democratic Party. The suit fought political patronage, and led to legal decrees mandating that some positions would be "Shakman-exempt" as political appointments, but setting strict standards for other hirings. Yet even so the city has been unable to prove compliance and end the costly legal process of getting out from under the suit.

"Shakman's cost the taxpayers millions of dollars," Emanuel said. "It's been a stain on the city that we've never professionalized our hiring practices."