That's how much the city of Chicago has spent since 2005 due to political patronage schemes, according to an analysis of city and federal court records. The payouts include some $12 million to people who have filed suit against local government on grounds of patronage, more than $1 million to the city's private sector legal team, and close to $4.5 million to attorney Michael Shakman and his staff. Shakman began the push to end political patronage in city and county government in 1969 when he filed a case against the Democratic Organization of Cook County, which - after lengthy battles - resulted in mandates calling for the end of hiring based on political favors and prohibiting city workers from doing campaign, and similar, work while on the clock.
In 2005, some 22 years after the second decree was made on political patronage, a federal judge deemed it necessary to appoint a monitor to ensure compliance after years of questionable practices. In the years that have followed, the monitor, Noelle Brennan, her consultants as well as her attorneys have received a collective $7 million in payment for the work they have done to keep a watchful eye on local government to make sure they were abiding by the rules. Even still, Brennan reports that the city is still trying to weasel out of halting the practice of hiring favored job applicants under the Daley administration.
With Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel's hiring of Soo Choi to head the city's personnel department, which has been well-received by watchdogs, and the consolidation of the city's assets to one department, including scandal-ridden Fleet Management, there is the potential to see patronage play less of a role in city government in the next administration. If possible, this would be a great thing for a city that doesn't have another dime - let alone a few million bucks - to spare.