Garrity's Plan A Step Back
By Jody Reese
Aldermen Mike Garrity, Ward 9, was on the wrong side of an important issue last week.
Garrity voted to do away with rules that require city government job applicants be qualified. He wants the city to consider hiring employees that arenít qualified for the jobs that they are seeking. More specifically, he wants to be able to suggest his own candidates for the job.
Garrity might say that is a slight distortion of his position. He doesnít believe it takes any qualifications to hold some of the cityís jobs, such as helping people park in the airportís long-term lots. Other supporters of Garrityís plan might say that itís hard to judge an applicant from a resume alone ó it might not take life experience into account ó and that department heads should have the freedom to hire anyone they think will best do the job. I can sympathize with this last position. My father, who worked for the Veterans Administration, was never given the chance to move up because he didnít have a college education. But that is not the issue here.
At issue is the aldermenís ability to pull strings, and this is not what we vote them in to do. Itís unfair to the people who run city government and it would be moving the city in the wrong direction.
First and foremost itís an invitation to cronyism. It always has been and always will be. Police, fire and other first-responder public servants take exams to make sure that their skills and not connections get them the job or move them up to the next level. Cities, states and the federal government do that because having qualified people in those jobs means the difference between life and death.
Other city jobs should be no different. Manchester city government should hire the best and the brightest, and the only fair way for that to happen is to have a set of standards applied to all applicants. An aldermanís endorsement should not count.
Second, itís unfair to department heads to be forced to look at applicants suggested by aldermen. Aldermen have power over the department heads and can easily influence decisions. Department heads should be left to choose their own employees.
Finally, giving aldermen the power to push through the hiring of a friend or constituent sends the wrong message to residents.
Manchester can be the city of tomorrow or it can stay mired in the past. Political cronyismis no way to grow a city and making that easier will undermine the progress this city has made.
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