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WEBSITE LAUNCHED, OFFICE OPENED TO HANDLE SHAKMAN ISSUES IN COOK COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT

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Thursday, January 15, 2009    A compliance office has opened and a website launched, each aimed at ensuring proper hiring and promotion procedures are followed in the Cook County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Thursday.
           
            Pursuant to a federal court order, retired Cook County Judge Clifford L. Meacham will staff the office as a compliance administrator. He will respond to allegations of improper employment practices in the Sheriff’s office, among other duties.
           
            The website, www.sheriffshakman.com, provides information about the compliance administrator’s functions, as well as claim forms relating to the long-running Shakman vs. Cook County case, originally filed in 1969 amid claims of patronage hiring in city government.

            Since then, Shakman’s case has expanded to include county government. In September 2008, Dart voluntarily agreed to settle the case filed against his office. A month later, U.S. District Court Judge Wayne Andersen appointed Judge Meacham to serve as a monitor to oversee claims and address charges of political considerations in hiring, promotions, discipline and other aspects of employment in the Sheriff’s Office.

            Andersen praised Dart for being “particularly forthcoming in seeking a settlement,” while Shakman said he hasn’t received any complaints about political hiring under Dart, who took office in December 2006.

Meacham most recently served as Supervising Judge of the Mechanics Lein/Mortgage Foreclosure Section of the Cook County Circuit Court’s Chancery Division. As compliance administrator, he will work from an office at 69 W. Washington St., Room 1416, Chicago.

“I am pleased to be a part of the ongoing process to reform County Government,” Meacham said.  “Thus far, the Sheriff has shown a keen interest in making the Shakman Decree a reality within his Office, and has pledged his full cooperation with efforts of the Administrator and his staff.”

The Shakman Decree is intended to ensure that the Sheriff complies with hiring, firing, promotions, discharge and other employment practices where political considerations are not appropriate and to deliver judgment to any claims of political discrimination.
           
            “I am committed to not only proper hiring and promotional practices, but also to ensuring that Judge Meacham has every tool at his disposal to properly investigate and adjudicate any claims that may arise,” Dart said.

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