Is the Charter Commission Trying to Dump Civil Service?

The Bluff On The Big Muddy

It would appear that way, according to this CA article from this morning:

Concern is building about a Charter Commission task force recommendation eliminating civil service for future government workers if voters approve consolidating Memphis and Shelby County.

A Human Capital and Customer Service task force report characterizes civil service as outdated and refers to the system as a “straightjacket” on hiring, blaming it for the perception of lower quality public employees.

As expected, many people are NOT thrilled with this proposal:

City Council member Jim Strickland, a Charter Commission member, said Wednesday there are a handful of reasons the task force suggestions and an accompanying revamping of the pension system, are bothersome.

“I’m hoping the Charter Commission votes against it,” he said.

So why is this even being considered?

But Julie Ellis, the task force co-chairman, said the approach is to take a new government in a new direction regarding employees. The task force used input from some of the area’s largest private employers — FedEx, AutoZone and Methodist Healthcare — to form the recommendation.

According to the article, the current city workers would be grandfathered in and protected; however, any NEW employees would fall under the ominous-sounding “Human Resource Management System”.

Gee, what might the city unions think of this?

The recommendations already were drawing opposition on Wednesday.

“We’re totally against that. Civil service protects the government employees,” said Percy Banks, vice president of the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represent about 3,000 city and county workers.

David Upton, a local Democratic Party activist, has been one of the more outspoken voices. He said the proposal would hurt chances of consolidation passing.

“I think removing civil service would be the death knell of the entire thing,” Upton said. “It would kill it.”

Strickland agreed, saying the task force recommendation could eliminate any chance of consolidation winning approval either through Memphis voters or those outside the city. He thinks the commission should simplify the charter rather than delve into a lot of details, which could draw opposition.

“It makes for bad politics,” Strickland said. “It gives many people a reason to vote against consolidation.”

And I would be one of them, as much as I want to see consolidation pass, and I am NOT a city employee.  It almost makes one wonder if this isn’t a poison pill designed to kill consolidation in its tracks.

What do YOU think?

1 comment for “Is the Charter Commission Trying to Dump Civil Service?

  1. April 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Anyone who’s ever worked in the Civil Service system knows that it tends to deflate expectations, breeds conformity, puts rules about performance, and nobody is punished more by this antiquated system than unions.

    Civil service reform is underway in that conservative bastion of San Francisco and the Obama Administration has announced it as a goal. It was created as a response to political bosses of the 19th century and it chokes to death all the really great employees in local government by giving them and treating them the same as the really lousy ones.

    It deserves a fair hearing, because it could liberate government employees.

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