ARE ANGELENOS ANGRY? ARE FISH WET?

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Some Angelenos are angry. They feel betrayed. Their Charter is being trampled. Their civil service has been corrupted. Their voice at City Hall has been muffled. Increasingly, they’re treated like mushrooms. Yes, some Angelenos are angry!

Angelenos aren’t stupid. They know they’re being ripped off. They’re aware that over half the city budget goes to support an under-utilized workforce. They also know the mayor and council aren’t moving a muscle to end that enormous waste.

Indeed, the mayor and council are a major part of the problem. They lie about the size of their workforce. The mayor claims to have a staff of 94 employees, when in fact, the number reported by the controller’s office is 180. Similarly, the council says it hires 108 employees. But the controller’s number is actually 344.

The mayor and council want Angelenos to think they’re doing everything possible to cut costs. They laid-off hundreds of employees and forced thousands to take unpaid furloughs. But they found $15,000,000 to fund a useless Board of Public Works because, critics say, that provides jobs for five campaign contributors.

The mayor and council approve the continued use of employment tests that are not valid, and which would almost certainly be vulnerable to legal challenge. They leave department managers free to violate the city’s selection procedures.

Under city procedures, probationary employees must demonstrate their fitness for the job by the actual performance of their assigned duties and responsibilities. Here’s how that requirement is spelled out in the civil service rules:

— Sec. 1.26. PROBATIONARY PERIOD means the working test period during which the employee is required to demonstrate his/her fitness by the actual performance of the duties and responsibilities of his/her position and during which he/she may be terminated without right of appeal….

Now, in light of this rule, why is the LAPD allowed to use the same rating form to evaluate probationary performance in such diverse classes as Clerk, Painter, Delivery Driver, Accountant, Photographer, Storekeeper, Garage Attendant, Welder, Equipment Mechanic, Equine Keeper, Nutritionist, and 100 other job classes in which the police department utilizes civilian employees?

Angelenos may ask what it is about probationary ratings the mayor, council and police chief don’t understand. Are they baffled by Rating Content? Well, ratings are supposed to focus mainly on the probationer’s job performance, not on a set of personal traits and work habits long since abandoned by HR experts.

Is it the Rating Procedure those folks don’t understand? Well, the procedure is quite simple: compare what the probationer actually did with what he/she was assigned to do; measure job performance against performance standards.

The Rating Purpose shouldn’t be hard to grasp: it’s to keep poor/marginal performers off the city payroll. Continued failure to do that makes civil service a haven for mediocrity and jacks up the cost of municipal government in L.A.

Angelenos may wonder how the mayor and council can give the LAPD an Appropriation of $1,167,771,840, authorize a workforce of 13,877 employees, and leave the police department free to ignore city regulations — free to violate sound principles of workforce management. WHAT ARE OUR LEADERS THINKING?

You can send your questions and comments to samuelmsperling@yahoo.com.

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Trouble-Finder at City Hall

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