Over the last year aldermen have been complaining that Noelle Brennan, the court-appointed Shakman monitor, has practically brought city hiring to a standstill. Since August 2005, Brennan has been responsible for tracking the role of politics in hiring at City Hall. As of November 2006 her work had cost the city $1.3 million and counting

But the city’s own records show that hiring hasn’t stopped. In fact, the payroll has increased since the end of 2005, from 38,688 to 39,637 last July to 39,799 last week. That’s an increase of 1,111, or about 3 percent.

In 2003 the city’s payroll expanded just before the municipal election; the water department alone added hundreds of employees, according to city records. After the election the payroll shrank again.