CHICAGO (CBS) — In a historic ruling, a federal judge is releasing the city of Chicago from the costly Shakman Decree on political hiring.

Mayor Emanuel welcomed attorney Michael Shakman’s motion to end federal hiring of the city’s hirings, firings and promotions. Emanuel says he’s made it a priority to take the politics out of hiring.

But this is a battle Shakman has been fighting for more than 40 years.

“I’m happy to see the city has gotten to the point where it’s appropriate to say it no longer needs federal court oversight,” Shakman told WBBM Newsradio Monday.

“I’m not naïve and I don’t think that means that there’ll never again be a problem with political influence relating to jobs with the city because it’s too big an enterprise, and there’s too many people pushing in too many directions for that to be realistic,” he adds.

In an unusual, if not unprecedented event, Emanuel addressed a federal court judge, vowing that a job candidate’s qualifications will prevail, not who they know.

Winning or holding city jobs, the two sides agreed, was no longer a matter of which candidate you voted or campaigned for, or contributed to. It took the city decades to clean up the hiring mess. Ironically, Mayor Emanuel, who got much of the credit today, benefited from an army of city workers ordered to campaign for him in his first run for Congress.

Despite that apparent contradiction, Shakman credits Emanuel for being more receptive to reform than his predecessor, Mayor Richard Daley.

While Daley himself was never indicted, a number of his top aides were. Several served substantial prison terms for hiring abuses.

While the federal judge has taken Chicago off the hook, the state of Illinois itself is facing fresh scrutiny.

Shakman recently filed a complaint alleging some workers in Gov. Pat Quinn’s transportation department were patronage hires. In response, Quinn has said he has “zero tolerance” for any wrongdoing in his administration.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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