Monday, August 31, 2009

Anybody But David, continued

It's worse than we thought, and the New York State Governor needs to be seen not as mediocre, but malignant. According to the Albany Times Union's James Odato, Governor Patterson is not only coasting on a career built on cronyism and inside-dealing, he's trying to expand its corrosive influence:
Gov. David Paterson and Civil Service Commissioner Nancy Groenwegen briefly seized a new power to let agency heads appoint people they wanted to hundreds of jobs. But State Judge Joseph Teresi's July 25 order in a lawsuit shot down their move to reclassify professional titles to be exempt from civil service list hiring.

The action, dealing with 29 medical titles held by 1,700 people, would have "opened the floodgates for the placement of many other titles which require licensure," said Public Employees Federation President Kenneth Brynien, who sued Groenwegen, Paterson and Civil Service.

Teresi didn't go along with Groenwegen's argument that it is difficult to recruit from the civil service test list to hire physicians, psychiatrists, dentists and veterinarians so the posts should be reclassified as "noncompetitive," meaning no one would have to take a test and qualify based on their scores. The judge ruled the change would "have broad implications" allowing for "reclassification of essentially all licensed and certified professionals."

Groenwegen has been passionate about the matter and is considering appeal. "We clearly believe the decision was wrong," she said. "This does raise a fundamental question of how do you define a merit system in 2009?" She said she respects PEF's concerns about the dismantling of the traditional merit system but the constitution allows for alternatives to tests to promote nimbleness and flexibility in hiring.

Insiders say she's sought the changes as a good way to ensure minority hiring and greater diversity in the state work force, but she says that's not the motivation. The key reason is that a civil service exam isn't the best way to find the best people and is redundant because the doctors already proved their qualifications by gaining licenses and graduating from academic institutions, she said. The commissioner is up against a lot of skeptics.

Darcy Wells, a spokeswoman for PEF, said if the jobs became noncompetitive it "would open the doors to cronyism."
Well, fantastic. As if it wasn't bad enough that the State's coffers are being bled dry by the denizens of the Assembly who want nothing more than to stuff their pockets at a break-neck pace: apparently he wants to add to the ranks of those who think entering public service gives you a license to raid the till at will.

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