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Civil Service System in L.A.

April 24, 1985

Bravo! Your editorial (April 11), "Bradley's Mandate," regarding Mayor Tom Bradley and the manner in which the current Civil Service system has a stranglehold on all of us in elected office in Los Angeles, is on target.

It's not as though we haven't made an effort to change our Charter to make our employees more accountable for their job performance. On several occasions, the voters have turned us down by narrow margins when we tried to modernize the Civil Service system.

You suggest that the city contract out with the private sector to do the job of bringing our zoning and master plan into consistency. Some people reading your editorial might think the suggestion was made tongue-in-cheek. The reality is that this is precisely what the city has been doing in recent years when city departments, for whatever reason, have been unable to do a job, and it infuriates me.

We have contracted with private consultants to review our taxicab system, even though we have a Department of Transportation that is responsible for taxis. We contracted with a private consultant to study ways to modernize our parking management system, even though we had three departments responsible for that--the Police Department, the City Clerk, and the Department of Transportation. The City Council recently proposed to contract with a private planning firm to update the plan that governs Westwood Village. And, there are many other examples.

What all of this means is that our system is faltering. Our departments are not working as well together as they should. Funds are budgeted for the hiring of new personnel, but the Civil Service system can't produce a qualified candidate for six to 12 months, thus leaving long-term vacancies, even in critical jobs. The result is government by gridlock.

Or, in other cases, the departments have simply not risen to the demands of a major American metropolis of the 1980s. Thus, we have had to pay outside workers to do the job that we should have been able to do to begin with. And, of course, those who can't do the job continue to draw salaries and benefits from the city because they are protected by an outdated Civil Service system.

We need a complete overhaul of our Civil Service system. We need a system that rewards quality job performance and rids itself of incompetents. What we don't need is a system that promotes the status quo in a city that is anything but status quo.

ZEV YAROSLAVSKY

Councilman

Fifth District

Los Angeles

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