The Paterno Firing Should Put City Management on Notice


Joe Paterno, the Penn State icon, was fired because he didn’t do all he could do to end a brutal practice in his organization. When he learned that a young boy had been sodomized by his subordinate, Paterno did what he was legally required to do: he reported the incident to his superior.

But he could have done more. He could have demonstrated a real concern for the boy who was raped. He could have confronted the rapist. He could have acted to protect Penn State’s reputation by ensuring that this brutal practice would not be repeated.

Ultimately, Paterno was fired because he didn’t do all he could to confront the existing situation, or to prevent its recurrence.

The Paterno scandal won’t soon be forgotten. It’s likely to be in the news for weeks, maybe months. It should remind City officials that the people of Los Angeles expect them to discharge the duties of their office to the best of their ability. That’s a promise every City official has made to his/her constituents.

And beyond their Oath of Office, City officials are required by the City Charter to “perform their functions with diligence and dedication on behalf of the people of the City of Los Angeles.”

In light of their Oath and their Charter mandate, how can any City official permit the routine violation of a civil service regulation specifically adopted to keep unfit employees off the City payroll?

How can the Mayor, Council, and Appointing Authorities withhold the tools City supervisors need to get the best from the employees they supervise? How can those officials sit and watch while, across the City organization, employee performance is badly mismanaged?

City officials, elected and appointed, who close their eyes to Charter violations may find themselves in a Paterno predicament. They may hope the public never learns that the City’s civil service system has been dismantled — that the public was illegally denied the right to vote on the Charter changes involved.

But ultimately, the people of Los Angeles will learn they’ve been betrayed by their last three Mayors. And when this scandal is finally exposed, City officials will be held accountable for not doing all they could to protect their constituents!

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