Statement to the Los Angeles City Council

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In Los Angeles, residents know City government is ripping them off; they know they’re paying more than they should for the services they get. But some residents may not be fully informed about their City Council’s failure to do its duty. That’s what this statement is about.

Charter Section 242(b) provides that “…the duty of the Council and its committees is to become fully informed of the business of the City so as to oversee all the functions of the City government…”

But with respect to the City’s personnel function, Council has turned a blind eye to duty. It has — in my view — been criminally derelict. It has repeatedly refused to use its investigative powers to consider credible allegations of personnel mismanagement.

By refusing to do its duty, Council left the civil service system without any effective oversight. It allowed managers to use working tests that violate the “job-relatedness” requirement established by the United States Supreme Court.

By its dereliction, Council left managers free to use employee ratings that, like those described as “inherently unreliable” by an LAPD Board of Inquiry, do not accurately reflect what employees do on the job and that have little credibility throughput the City organization.

Without question, Council’s refusal to oversee the City’s personnel function has had a destructive impact on Civil Service in Los Angeles.

But long term, the most serious consequence of the Council’s failure is that it gives the Mayor — the City’s top politician — virtually unchecked control of the whole civil service system! Wow! That’s asking the fox to guard the hen house! Why on earth would the Council do that?

Someday, Angelenos will realize that the Mayor and the Council are ganging up on them. They’ll learn that a number of elected leaders are working to replace their civil service system, or at least to subject that system to a radical make-over!

While it’s not widely known, Civil Service in Los Angeles has been under attack since 1993. The City’s last three Mayors (Riordan, Hahn, and Villaraigosa) degraded the Board of Civil Service Commissioners and down-sized its role. They grabbed the Board’s powers, and turned the peoples’ civil service system into a collection of separate City agencies.

While the Mayors had the Council’s quiet cooperation, the changes they made are not legal! Equating Los Angeles with Havana, the Bosses didn’t put the proposed changes on the ballot! Have they no shame?

You can contact Samuel Sperling at samuelmsperling@yahoo.com.

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