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Cook County Sheriff’s Office “Substantially” Free Of Patronage

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart (CBS File Photo)

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A federal judge says he hopes other government bodies get the message  that ending political patronage can be done.

CHICAGO (AP) - The Cook County Sheriff’s office has become the first to be declared free, or mostly free, of political patronage that’s so tarnished Chicago government for decades.

A federal judge on Thursday signed an order deeming the sheriff’s department in “substantial compliance” with a decree making it illegal to hire and fire employees for political reasons.

The so called Shakman decree is named after attorney Michael Shakman. In 1969, he began a crusade to destroy Chicago’s entrenched patronage system.

A landmark lawsuit filed by Shakman eventually led to federal court orders banning patronage and creating a court-appointed monitor to ensure compliance.

U.S. District Judge Sidney Schenkier told a hearing that Thursday’s order should send a message to other government bodies – that ending political patronage can be done.

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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