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Rahm Emanuel kills controversial hiring office Richard M. Daley created

Updated: October 15, 2011 12:34AM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has quietly disbanded the $3.6 million-a-year Office of Compliance that former Mayor Richard M. Daley created in 2007 to get around an inspector general who had embarrassed him.

Last year, oversight over city hiring was transferred from the Office of Compliance to Inspector General Joe Ferguson to bolster the city’s case to get out from under the Shakman decree banning political hiring and firing.

A few months later, Compliance chief Anthony Boswell — the Denver attorney hired to oversee city hiring — resigned.

Federal hiring monitor Noelle Brennan and attorney Michael Shakman, the original plaintiff in the long-running Shakman patronage case, had accused Boswell of ignoring blatant violations, covering up hiring irregularities he’s supposed to correct and failing to discipline employees who refuse to toe the line.

Now, Emanuel has dispersed the functions that remained in the Office of Compliance — internal audit, minority contracting and certification, employee education and training, legal compliance and safety administration — to five city departments: Human Resources, Procurement Services, Streets and Sanitation, Finance and the Board of Ethics.

The re-organization — like several other departmental mergers proposed by the new mayor — has not yet been authorized by the City Council.

Daley created the Office of Compliance in 2007 — and hired an outsider to run it — because he didn’t trust then-Inspector General David Hoffman to oversee hiring after a series of investigations that embarrassed the mayor.

But, it wasn’t long before Boswell himself became an embarrassment to Daley.

Ferguson targeted minority contracting fraud and Shakman violations under Boswell’s watch. At the inspector general’s recommendation, Daley suspended Boswell for 30 days for allegedly mishandling an intern’s sexual harassment complaint against a 911 center deputy.

Boswell filed a lawsuit that contained the explosive allegation that then-Corporation Counsel Mara Georges led a “retaliation campaign” that culminated in the “illegal” suspension after Boswell blew the whistle on her efforts to manipulate hiring and promote her predecessor’s unqualified daughter.

The lawsuit was subsequently dismissed. Boswell resigned before Daley could act on another Ferguson recommendation — that Boswell be fired for accepting two years’ worth of Spanish lessons from a consultant over whom he had “contracting authority” on city time at taxpayers’ expense.

Chicago aldermen have long complained that Daley made a mistake taxpayers could not afford when he created the Office of Compliance in an end-run around the inspector general.

Ferguson said the same thing Wednesday, albeit more diplomatically.

“This office has issued numerous reports — investigative and program reviews — highlighting both the structural and operational problems of that office. That’s in addition to multiple federal and state criminal prosecutions of IGO-initiated matters, most notably related to the long-troubled minority business program,” Ferguson said.

“I don’t know whether the office should have been created in the first place. I wasn’t here. I don’t know what global concept Daley might have had in mind. But, you don’t dismantle something that’s working.”

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