A Chicago alderman has put forward a proposal he says is the first step toward requiring the City Council to agree not to rehire city employees fired for misconduct.
Ald. Patrick O'Connor, 40th, introduced a resolution to the City Council this week calling on the council to “refrain from hiring, during the period of their disqualification, those former City employees whose names appear on or whose names may be added to the so-called Ineligible for Rehire list maintained by the Department of Human Resources.”
For years, hiring at City Hall had been under federal scrutiny to ensure that politics were kept out. Earlier this month, that oversight ended. Key to that was Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s move to agree that sister agencies like the CTA, Chicago Public Schools and the Park District would abide by the do-not-hire list.
But federal monitor Noelle Brennan wrote in a May report that “despite numerous recommendations and letters sent to the City Council by this office, the City Council has not agreed to honor the Ineligible for Rehire list.”
According to O'Connor, many aldermen weren't even aware there was such a list, and his resolution would require Human Resources to provide copies to the City Council.
A resolution has no force of law behind it, however, leading to questions about whether the notoriously resistant-to-reform City Council was trying to avoid substantive change.
O'Connor said introducing it in that form was simply a preliminary move so a hearing can be set on the issue while he awaits the opinion of city lawyers about whether the binding agreement should take the form of an ordinance or a City Council rule.
“The idea is that this will be binding,” said O'Connor, Emanuel's City Council floor leader. “I'm not trying to be cute here or get around anything.”
It remains to be seen whether aldermen will vote to allow themselves to be governed by the do-not-hire list for the hundreds of jobs they control, though 41 aldermen joined O’Connor in sponsoring the resolution. It’s a list O'Connor said represents every council member he tracked down at Wednesday's meeting.
“We will have a hearing and discuss it, but my feeling from the response to the resolution is that there's substantial support,” he said.