The wife of fired City Attorney Martin Shanahan has been hired by the mayor as deputy liquor commissioner during a city government hiring freeze.
Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, a Shanahan backer who wanted to make him city manager, said he was righting a wrong by employing Gabriella Shanahan after her husband lost his job with the city in May.
“I feel Marty did a really good job. I feel he got a raw deal,” O’Dekirk said.
The mayor, who also serves as the city’s liquor commissioner, oversees three deputy liquor commissioner positions, the inspector general and a secretary for his office.
Other city jobs are controlled by the city manager, and interim City Manager Steve Jones fired Shanahan on May 19.
“On a personal level thought it was a low-life move to fire a man with a family in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” O’Dekirk said. “I thought it was an opportunity to right a wrong,”
O’Dekirk said Gabriella Shanahan’s first day on the job was Wednesday.
“I’m a little surprised to hear that,” Jones said, “because I don’t recall the (city) council making any exceptions when we had discussions about a hiring freeze.”
The city has instituted a hiring freeze as it seeks to cut the budget by about $13 million because of sharp declines in tax revenue related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jones would not comment to the mayor’s reference to Marty Shanahan’s firing being “a low-life move.”
“I won’t comment on personnel matters,” he said.
The mayor has been at odds with Jones on a number of issues, including the private contractual arrangement by which he works for the city. O’Dekirk has said that Jones should be replaced as interim city manager as Joliet looks for someone to fill the job on a permanent basis.
But a five-member council majority supports Jones. The same majority also removed Martin Shanahan from the interim city manager position in June 2019 and opposed O’Dekirk’s attempt to put him in the job on a permanent basis.
Martin Shanahan at the time returned to his normal duties as city attorney. It was the second time he had served as interim city manager.
O’Dekirk said Gabriella Shanahan is the first woman to be a deputy liquor commissioner for Joliet.
She replaces Jim Greenan, a longtime deputy liquor commissioner and former public works supervisor for the city, who retired.
“She’s known in the community,” O’Dekirk said of Gabriella Shanahan. “She has the same qualifications every other deputy liquor commissioner has. She has good personal skills.”
The two other deputy liquor commissioners are Jim O’Connell, who formerly owned McBrody’s bar and restaurant downtown, and retired Joliet police officer Rick Goepper.