United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, E.D
April 12, 1983
MICHAEL SHAKMAN, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
DEMOCRATIC ORGANIZATION OF COOK COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS. PETITION OF RICHARD L. VOYTAS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bua, District Judge.
Before the Court is respondents' Motion to Dismiss the Petition for a
Rule to Show Cause why certain respondents should not be held in civil
contempt of court for violation of this Court's 1972 Shakman decree. For
the reasons stated herein, the Motion to Dismiss is denied.
Petitioner's allegations reveal that from October 3, 1977 until August
15, 1982, petitioner was an employee of the City of Chicago's Department
of Sewers as a laborer. On August 16, 1977, petitioner became ill and was
required to have gall bladder surgery. When petitioner informed his,
supervisors of his illness and that he would be out of work for roughly
eight weeks, he was told that he would have no problem retaining his
job. However, when he attempted to return to work, he was informed that
he had been terminated and that he would have to get a sponsorship letter
from his ward committeeman to get reinstated. Although on October 12,
1982 he produced such a letter, he was not reinstated.*fn1 It is now
claimed that the reason he was terminated and not reinstated was that the
committeeman from whom he received his sponsorship letter was U.S.
Representative William 0. Lapinsky, a political foe of Mayor Jane Byrne
and the regular Democratic Organization.
I. Respondents argue that the instant petition fails to state a claim
under the 1972 consent decree entered by the Court in this case as, they
claim, the petition raises questions not of termination, which would fall
under the consent decree, but of hiring which falls under the judgment
entered by this Court on April 4, 1983 and is inapplicable to the case at
bar. The Court does not concur in this analysis.
Necessarily, when an individual is terminated and seeks to again his
former position, an issue of firing as well as one of hiring is
presented. However, that the latter is present does not preclude the Court
from hearing the former issue, even though a claim may only be brought on
the former issue. The petition clearly sets out a claim concerning
termination. It specifically states that the named respondents,
caused the termination of Mr. Voytas' employment and
refused to rehire him
because Mr. Voytas did not have acceptable political
sponsorship and because he refused to make political
contributions to Mayor Jane Byrne's campaign fund and
other funds sponsored by respondent Quigley, or Cook
County Democratic officials. (Voytas' Petition at
That petitioner sought to be rehired does not preclude this Court from
considering his claim regarding termination. The petition clearly states
a claim in this regard and cannot be dismissed for failure to state a
claim arising under the 1972 decree.
II. Respondents assert that Voytas' petition fails to allege any
violation of the 1972 decree against respondent Quigley. It is argued
that the only allegation concerning Quigley states that petitioner's
personnel file was "sent in to Commissioner Quigley" along with the
required sponsorship letter. Respondents claim that such a statement does
not contain the requisite facts to form the basis of the civil contempt
charge contained in the case at bar. However, respondents fail to note
that Quigley is alleged to have caused the termination of petitioner and
that, by respondent's own admission, Quigley, as the Commissioner of the
Department, was the only person with the authority to hire or fire an
employee. Viewing the petition liberally as required by Conley v.
Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957), a claim has been
sufficiently stated by the petitioner. The Motion to Dismiss respondent
Quigley must therefore be denied.
III. Respondents argue that petitioner has failed to demonstrate his
standing to seek relief under the provisions of the Shakman decree in
that the petitioner has asserted only his own individual interests as a
public employee and not those of the independent candidates or the
independent voter-taxpayers whose constitutional rights were specifically
protected by the 1972 decree. However, as the Court noted in Shakman v.
Democratic Organization, In re: Petition of Edward Zielinski, 69 C 2145
(April 20, 1981), such an argument must fail. To allege standing in a
Shakman petition, a government employee as defined in ¶ B of the
consent decree must only be a registered voter.*fn2 Necessarily, such an
employee represents, at least in part, the varied interests of the
"independents" by virtue of the fact that he or she is at odds with those
whose conduct is restricted by the decree. It having been declared that
the patronage system harms the public as a whole, perhaps the most
effective and certainly the most realistic means of minimizing such harm
is through actions brought by individual employees, acting on their own
behalf, who have sufficient immediate knowledge and interest to pursue an
enforcement action. By definition, the public interest is a nebulous
concept. Allowance of standing in cases such as that at bar helps to
minimize the difficulties inherent in serving such an interest.
For the reasons stated herein, the respondents' Motion to Dismiss is
IT IS SO ORDERED.