Does the Mayor Really Think City Government Works Better Without Transparency?

In Los Angeles, the Board of Civil Service Commissioners dates back to 1903. That’s when the California State Legislature gave our city a legal foundation, its own Charter.

Article XXIII of that Charter established a Board of Civil Service Commissioners, and declared “Said Commission shall make rules to carry out the purposes of this Article and for the examinations and appointments in accordance with its provisions, and the Commission may, from time to time, make changes to such rules.”

Under Section 233 of that Article, the City’s original Charter declared “All rules made as hereinafter provided and all changes therein shall be printed for distribution by said Commission. The Commission shall give notice by publishing in the official paper of the place or places where said rule may be obtained, and in such publication shall be specified the date — not less than 30 days subsequent to the date of publication — when said rule shall go into effect.”

The essence of that transparency requirement is retained in Section 1004 of our current City Charter. But since 1993, that requirement has been trampled by three mayors — first Richard J. Riordan, then James Kenneth Hahn, and now Antonio R. Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa appointed all five members of the current Board of Civil Service Commissioners. But he won’t let the board do what the charter says it must do. He won’t let it enforce the rules; he won’t let it monitor employment ptactices, and he won’t let it investigate rule violations.

Clearly, the restrictions he’s placed on the board are corrupting the city’s civil service system. And under the Charter, Villaraigosa is required to put his radical rule changes in writing. He’s required to give public notice of where his “new order” can be obtained. But Villaraigosa doesn’t want the public to know he’s wrecking Civil Service in Los Angeles. For the past 5 1/2 years, he’s pursued his quixotic quest as an in-house secret!

What does this say about the man some call “The Honorable Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles?” It says he’s bought into the Riodran Paradigm. It suggests he’d ultimately like to turn the civil service system into a collection of virtually independent departments, bureaus, and offices. It says he thinks “managers must manage” — without any oversight from a Board of Civil Service Commissioners.

It also says Villaraigosa’s not honest enough to come right out and tell the people of Los Angeles where he wants to take their merit-based employment system, and how they would benefit if his secret scheme were to be approved.

Finally, it says Villaraigosa is so insensitive he puts a herd of helpless city officials — and an even larger and more helpless army of employees — in an impossible situation. No matter what they think of him as a person, they have to pretend not to notice that, as the city’s CEO, he’s made no real effort to improve the management of employee performance and no real effort to cut the cost of human resource mismanagement!

Contact Samuel at samuelsperling@yahoo.com.

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