Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Pinstripe Patronage
Pinstripe Patronage

Pinstripe Patronage

“Pinstripe” patronage is a form of corporate and professional political favoritism that emerged in place of the more traditional patronage following successful litigation targeting the latter in the 1970s and 1980s. Patronage, a major cog of so-called machine politics, enabled “bosses” to dominate urban politics from the nineteenth century until the 1950s, and in Chicago until the 1980s. In a series of rulings known collectively as the Shakman decrees the federal judiciary ruled that city of Chicago employees could not be fired or hired as political punishment or reward. These rulings went to the heart of the exchange model of political control, wherein bosses gave or withheld public employment in return for electoral support at the polls. After Shakman, Chicago political leaders shifted the emphasis of patronage to major accounting and law firms, banks, and corporations by steering public business to those who helped maintain the regime in power.