Cook County employees will have to log
contacts with elected officials as part of what new County Board
President Toni Preckwinkle said today is an effort to end a “history of
political favors and backroom deals.”
“I spent 20 years in the City Council struggling for more open
government, and for fairness, and I carry that same commitment into my
present office,” Preckwinkle said at a news conference. “We’re doing the
best we can not only to bring on a good team, but to do that in a way
that is consistent with our obligations under the Shakman decree.”
The Shakman case is part of a long-running lawsuit over politics in
county and city hiring. In 1998, the county agreed in federal court to
log political contacts as part of the landmark consent decree barring
most political hiring. But the county never formalized the political
log process or created a specific log form, Preckwinkle’s office said.
The log, which will not be available to the public, will be an official
record of employee correspondence with any political person or
organization regarding specific employee actions.
Under the new system, county and forest preserve district workers
will be required to log contact with elected officials regarding
employee actions in a new database that will be maintained by the
county’s inspector general.
The ethics initiative came as Preckwinkle defended her hiring of
former Ald. Shirley Coleman as a deputy secretary, who will work in the
Secretary of the Board’s office coordinating agendas for the county and
forest preserve. Coleman was voted out of office in 2007.
of all, she’s somebody I know, so, I know her as an elected official.
Does that mean that politics plays a role in it? Well...” Precwinkle
said. “She’s somebody I know and I have confidence we’ll do a good job
in that position…It’s an exempt position which are filled at the
discretion of the executive.”