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Cook County state's attorney disagrees with review of county hiring practices
Devine calls probe of patronage, illegal hiring 'inaccurate'

Thursday, March 20, 2008
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County State's Atty. Richard Devine's office is taking issue with a federal court monitor's suggestion that county hiring practices do little to prevent illegal patronage.

That defense of County Board President
Todd Stroger's administration came Wednesday in a response rebutting the recent report by retired Circuit Judge Julia Nowicki, who was appointed to probe claims of patronage and monitor current hiring. Nowicki "is inaccurate when she states in her report that 'there has been little change in the status quo,' " the response states.

The state's attorney's reply included many defenses already made by the Stroger administration. For example, it states the county inspector general—appointed by Stroger's late father, former Board President John Stroger—has received no accusations of illegal hiring since February 2, 2007—the cutoff date for the claims Nowicki is probing.

But Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), a Stroger critic, took issue with that point, saying Inspector General Joseph Price "lacks independence and was never willing to ferret out violations."

The response also states administration officials are working closely with Nowicki, by allowing her staff to monitor the hiring of 215 people and are participating in training aimed at preventing illegal hiring. It also agrees to several of Nowicki recommendations, but claims others are too costly.

"Fundamental change" has occurred in county hiring practices, according to the response, which also calls "unfair" Nowicki's allegation "that there is no information or event that has been presented to [Nowicki] that would indicate that illegal patronage has been eliminated."

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