Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Clean hiring

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley announced recently that he's considering outsourcing the city's hiring in order to deal with the long-documented problems of political influence and patronage. In a city that still can't determine who hired Angelo Torres, the thinking goes, bringing in an outsider may increase accountability.

The problems at city hall, though, aren’t with paperwork, or tracking recommendations, or posting new openings in public places (though all of those have been used as excuses). The problem is finding someone who is comfortable telling elected officials that their campaign volunteers don't automatically get the jobs. Those so-called volunteers can apply, as can everyone else, but they get no leg up, no points, no boost from having helped out at election time.

If no one at City Hall has the wherewithal to say "no" to powerful politicians who want their people hired regardless of qualifications, then maybe it is necessary to hire outside help. But that alone shows how endemic the problem has become.

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