Lawsuit: Aldermen must approve controversial CPS pick

  • By Jay Field
  • February 06, 2009 @ 5:59 PM

Another prominent black activist is attacking Mayor Richard M. Daley’s choice to run the Chicago Public Schools.
In a suit filed today in Cook County Circuit Court, one-time Harold Washington aide and 2007 Mayoral candidate William Dock Walls alleges Daley violated the city’s municipal code, when he appointed former CTA President Ron Huberman schools CEO.
Since Huberman’s appointment late last month, prominent black leaders, led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson and Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, have raised questions about the selection and how it came about.
Both Jackson and Brown have attacked the mayor for picking someone with few education credentials and, in the process, passing over a highly qualified, African-American woman, Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins.
But Daley has staunchly defended his choice, arguing that only since he began tapping managers for the top job, and not career educators, has the system shown improvement.
The 1995 Chicago School Reform Act gives the mayor the sole power to appoint a CEO to run the public schools.
But Walls’ suit argues the mayor is also required to go to the Chicago City Council for approval.
“Whenever a vacancy shall occur in any office which by law he is empowered to fill,” the city’s Municipal Code reads,  “the mayor shall, within 30 days after the occurrence of such vacancy, communicate to the city council the name of his appointee to such office.”
State law, the suit says, expressly gives the mayor the freedom to appoint people to the Board of Education without city council approval.
But the law, the brief goes on to argue, doesn’t come out and say the Mayor can leave the city council out of the CEO selection process.
A judge will have to sort through the semantics, as the court weighs whether to grant an injunction and put a hold on Ron Huberman’s brief tenure as schools CEO.