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Feb. 10 2010 - 2:20 pm | 18 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

No more city jobs for junior

Alderman Bernie Stone at India Independence Da...

Image by chascarper via Flickr

It’s hard to find the things funny while buried in snow and sleep deprived after a 4 a.m. earthquake, but this headline from the Tribune has me in stitches.

“Alderman pass measure limiting relatives on city payroll”

The Tribune is taking some credit:

Ald. Thomas Allen, 38th, first proposed the change last November in response to a Tribune story that revealed aldermen were using a $1.3 million payroll controlled by the Finance Committee to hire relatives, campaign operatives and workers with political baggage.

One of the employees with political baggage was a former full-time city worker ousted over sexual harassment allegations who had been placed on a city do-not-hire list.

The first rule in Chicago politics is Don’t Get Caught. If caught, however, the next move is to claim it’s all a big mistake. That the upstanding elected official didn’t do anything wrong, technically, because there was no law against it. Also, everyone was doing it.

Case in point:

The story also noted at least four aldermen had used the account to hire relatives, prompting former 29th Ald. Isaac Carothers, who since resigned his post after pleading guilty in federal court to bribes, to say: “All us (aldermen) have family members on the payroll. That’s nothing new.”

Making it illegal to hire relatives from some off-the-books fund is a pretty lame action to take in the grand scheme of things. I never thought I’d write these words but, Ald. Bernard Stone, 50th, almost made sense on the subject.

“The general public’s opinion of the aldermen themselves is so low, that if you are going to sit and worry about what their opinion is of hiring members of the aldermen’s family, it’s probably no greater than what it is of the aldermen,” Stone said.

Never fear, it was just a momentary lapse of reason.

“I don’t care what you tell me, that is unfair,” Stone told Allen of his proposal. “It is certainly contrary to the statement that all people are created equal. It is certainly contrary to the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which we fought the Civil War over, and you are creating a special class by saying that relatives of aldermen cannot serve because they are relatives, because by chance of birth they were born relatives of aldermen.”

After the Tribune is done tooting its own horn, maybe it could look into that “stealth payroll” referred to so frequently. The one being used to pay all these family members that will continue to have jobs, since everyone is grandfathered into the new law.

The little-known Revenue Committee account has been around for decades, and employees paid through the fund don’t show up on the regular city payroll.

Wouldn’t it be great if instead of just ruling out family members, we eliminated anything considered stealthy from city government?

Clout St: City Council restricts relative hiring on stealth payroll.


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    I'm an introverted extrovert and disgruntled urban dweller who can't quite bring herself to leave the city. I'm a product of the Chicago public schools who can sometimes spell correctly without spell check, community rabble rouser, self-professed tech girl and retail reporter. Whew...

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