Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's Time for the 50th to Move Out of the Stone Age

"Four of the 12 Chicago aldermen running in the April 17 runoff employ relatives or other loved ones on their publicly funded ward staffs, costing taxpayers more than $400,000 a year. While laws in other major cities prohibit this practice, Chicago politicians say there's nothing wrong with hiring people they trust and think their relatives deserve the same chance as other applicants."

The Beachwood Reporter has taken a long look at nepotism among the sitting Chicago aldermen, including in the 50th Ward:
"So I'm guilty of nepotism, how about that?" said Stone, one of the longest-serving aldermen on the 50-member Chicago City Council.

His opponent, however, doesn't view this hiring practice in the same way. [Naisy Dolar] says an alderman's personal staff should be regulated like any other city office, where government workers and elected officials are banned from hiring their family members. Since the mid-1980s, the city's ethics ordinance has prohibited aldermen from employing relatives on their committee staffs, but no such ban exists for their ward offices.

"It is the alderman's responsibility that we hire the most qualified people and reflect the diversity of the neighborhood," Dolar said.

Stone employs his daughter, Ilana Feketitsch, as his chief of staff. Feketitsch said her 12 years of working for her father, who's been in office since 1973, makes her qualified for the position, which earns her $63,804 annually.

Be sure to read the whole piece -- The Beachwood's account of aldermanic family members bellying up to the public trough is simply staggering.

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