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Exiting hiring monitor says Cook County too slow to end patronage

Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County's federal hiring monitor said County Board President Todd Stroger's efforts to eradicate illegal patronage were moving too slowly as she announced Monday that she was passing the baton to concentrate on her private law practice.

In a six-page letter to commissioners, Julia Nowicki said it will be at least 18 more months before the federal courts find that monitoring is no longer needed.

Commissioners, Nowicki added, "can nudge" Stroger to take steps to eliminate the widely held perception that patronage continues to hobble county government.

Eugene Mullins, Stroger's spokesman, said "perception is not reality," and a lawyer for Stroger issued a 12-page letter outlining his steps to prevent patronage.

Nowicki, a former county judge, was appointed 27 months ago after the FBI raided county offices and launched a hiring probe. Her replacement is Mary Robinson, former administrator of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

During her tenure, Nowicki awarded $3 million to people who lost out on jobs and promotions because of politics from August 2004 to February 2007.


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