Statement of Larry Suffredin
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Special to suffredin.org
On November 29, 2006, The Cook County Board of Commissioners agreed to enter into a settlement agreement on behalf of Cook County with the plaintiffs in the federal court Shakman lawsuit. The settlement will resolve all pending civil matters related to any alleged violation of the Shakman consent decrees under the offices of the President and will allow the citizens of Cook County to have full confidence that the County is moving forward with both fair and honest administration of government and that the hiring of non-exempt positions are done so without the influence of politics. U.S. District Court Judge Wayne Andersen entered the order on November 30, 2006 accepting the settlement agreement.
In brief, the settlement agreement provides for the following:
A compliance administrator (“CA”) (respected retired Judge Julia A. Nowicki) will serve as an agent of the Court appointed to review County employment practices, assist in developing a new hiring plan and employee training, and ensure future compliance with the Shakman consent decrees and this settlement.
Persons who believe they have been the victim of political discrimination will have the ability to file complaints against the County with the CA and the County’s Inspector General. A process for the CA to review and determine whether such complaints that arise from events occurring on or after August 28, 2004 until November 30, 2006 have merit will be instituted and the CA will determine the compensation amounts for such claims.
After November 30, 2006, the county’s Inspector General shall review claims of discrimination and a process will be established to determine the validity of a claim. All processes and decisions by the parties will be subject to review by the U.S. District Court.
Effective March 1, 2009, the U.S. District Court may, upon the County’s request, terminate the 1994 Consent Judgment in the County in the Shakman case and the role of the CA, if the Court finds that the County has substantially complied.
I was pleased to be part of the close negotiations with the President Steele’s administration, the Office of the State’s Attorney and Judge Wayne Andersen, which resulted in the settlement of the lawsuit brought against the County. The parties on both sides worked hard to resolve this matter in a fair and meaningful manner.
In addition to the settlement, I served as a primary sponsor of an ordinance passed unanimously by the County Board on November 29, 2006, that forbids unlawful political discrimination in all aspects of non-exempt employment within the County. The ordinance directs any employee of the County who learns of any unlawful political discrimination in connect with any aspect of government employment with the County, or who believes that such unlawful political discrimination has occurred or is occurring, to report this information to the Cook County’s Inspector General’s Office.
The settlement and the enactment of the ordinance, which are endorsed by President-elect Todd Stroger, are very positive steps toward reforming Cook County’s hiring practices and provide our employees and the public with confidence that Cook County’s employment practices are ethical and fair.