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Patronage hiring gets nod -- officially -- in Chicago

Chicago's ruling Democratic Party machine has officially sanctioned patronage hiring in a move critics say will substitute political favoritism for the merit system. The controversial move, which is likely to strengthen the power base of Mayor Jane Byrne, could eventually open up at least 14,000 municipal jobs to be filled on the basis of political loyalty rather than ability.

With no advance notice, the Democratic-controlled Chicago City Council passed an ordinance effectively eliminating the civil service code for all future employees except police and firemen. A federal official warne d it could cost the city federal funds.

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