As I’ve saying for a few weeks now, I was asked to be part of a panel discussion sponsored by the CHRO today on the impact and implications of Public Act 11-237 on the practice before the agency. There were several powerpoints used and there was lots discussed. I will share various points in some upcoming posts including discussing all of the various changes in procedures .
Today I will recap the introductory comments made by the CHRO Exective Director Robert Brothers, Jr.
He described his job and the situation the agency is in now as “absolutely challenging”. He indicated that staffing levels are down 33 percent over the last ten years or so, adding to the difficulties for the agency.
He also acknowledged the agency’s shortcomings. He indicated that the criticism of the delays of processing cases is “well-founded”. While he said that part of the reason behind the delays was due to lack of staff, he said that it was also due to “the way we’ve been doing things.”
He asked all those in attendance for input on how the new law is working and whether the agency is getting closer to its goal of completing more investigations than it takes it.
“We will do it faster,” was a mantra repeated over and over again.
Of course, the skeptics can point to the fact the agency has tried to reinvent itself over the years with only mediocre success. But with someone who has been with the agency for a long time (instead of an outsider) at the helm, there is no doubt that Brothers has more support than others have had.
But one big problem remains. The Human Rights Referees — the ones who run the hearings — have not yet been reappointed and Brothers admitted that he just didn’t know when that would take place. He indicated that “I think its taking longer than it should,” but had no concrete information to share.