New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has submitted a request to the Civil Service Commission that it consider 32 rule changes at its April 21, 2014 meeting. This is the second attempt to “reform” the civil service system in New Orleans.
Former Civil Service Commissioner Jerry Davis posted the following comment on NOLA.COM regarding the proposed changes:
From the moment Landrieu began packing the Civil Service Commission with his sycophants and cronies, the handwriting was on the wall. As a Tulane graduate, I will never forgive Scott Cowen for his perfidy in surrendering his appointment power; the body which ultimately resulted has completely violated its duty to enforce the basic elements of the merit system. (Full disclosure: I am a forty-year veteran of the Civil Service Department, and had the honor of serving on the Commission before its ‘reinvention’.)
The basic lies about the Civil Service process are repeated in Landrieu’s arguments for this change:
1. Department heads’ authority – whenever vacancies occur, the department heads have always been consulted about the appropriate qualifications; they are also asked to provide updated lists of duties to be performed. Many executives, especially in the current administration cannot be bothered to provide accurate job descriptions or take the time to consider appropriate qualifications – preferring instead, to borrow and paraphrase Mr. Justice Potter Stewart’s description of pornography, “I’ll know the proper qualifications when I see them in an applicant.”
2. Flexibility in hiring and promotion – department heads have always had the authority to move beyond the ‘Rule of 3’ by passing over a person three times, or documenting reasons.
The losers in this seizure of power are of course the citizens and loyal employees of New Orleans – both as taxpayers who will pay the inevitable costs of turnover, retraining and incompetent service, and as applicants, who will not gain the positions they aspire to because they have not kissed the proper rings.
And so we are condemned to learn again the lessons of the 1880s, when the novel concept of merit in hiring for government service was born.
Civil Service was the reform. Louisiana thought so highly of the civil service system that it included it in the Louisiana Constitution so that it could only be removed by a vote of the people as opposed to legislators who might want to return to the days of the spoils system. Mayor Landrieu’s proposed changes erode the foundation of that reform that was so thoughtfully introduced years ago.
Mayor Landrieu would have you believe that his proposals are merely “modernizing” ciivil service. As former Commissioner Davis points out, implementation of this plan will violate the basic tenets of the merit system.
The Administration underestimated the opposition the first time around. This time, it is clear that Mayor Landrieu is “all in” on jamming these “reforms” down the throats of his civil servants.
Take the time to familiarize yourself with these issues. They will be considered at the April 21, 2014 meeting of the Civil Service Commission. More information to follow.
Mayor Landrieu’s propaganda can be found here. Take it for what it is worth.