What Gives the Mayor the Right to Kill Civil Service?

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The Mayor of Upland gets caught breaking the law; he goes to jail. The Mayor of Bell gets caught in some serious wrong-doing; he gets charged and goes to trial. The Mayor of Cudahy gets caught accepting bribes; he resigns.

In Los Angeles, Mayor Villaraigosa is accused of a different kind of lawlessness: changing civil service provisions of the City Charter that had been approved by the voters and that can be changed legally only by the voters.

For his entire time as Mayor, Villaraigosa has violated Charter Section 541. That Section provides for an active Board of Civil Service Commissioners. It vests the Board with rule-making, enforcement, and oversight powers and duties.

But Villaraigosa degrades the Board; he uses it mainly as an appeals body. He frees department heads from Board oversight and makes them all accountable to him. That gives him — the City’s top politician — easy access to almost all City jobs!

Obviously, this is NOT how the City’s civil service system is supposed to operate. Yet, under Mayor Villaraigosa, that’s exactly how it has operated. But why, you may ask, has the public not protested this self-serving power-grab?

That’s a good question. The answer lies mainly in the fact that the Mayor (and his predecessors) did their dirty work behind closed doors. There was no vote on, or public notice of, the decision to replace civil service with the New Paradigm.

Still, an unknown number of City officials did know about the scheme, but did not stop it. Nor did they stop the violation of Section 541. Those officials, some of whom are now campaigning for higher office, must be asked to explain what they knew and what they did to protect the integrity of the City’s civil service system.

For example, Councilman Dennis P. Zine has been on the Council for all 7 years of the Villaraigosa administration. The assumption is that he knew all about the New Paradigm. The question is, “What did he do to stop the violation of Section 541? What did he do to stop the corruption of civil service in Los Angeles?”

Like Councilman Zine, each of the three “insiders” who wants to be the City’s next Mayor (Councilwoman Perry, Councilman Garcetti, and Controller Greuel) owes the people of Los Angeles an explanation.

The assumption is that, because they’ve been in office for at least 7 years, they must know all about the Riordan Paradigm. The question is, what did they do to challenge that scheme? What did they do to save the civil service system?

Angelenos expect leaders to honor the charter the voters approved.

Send your questions and comments to samuelmsperling@yahoo.com

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