David's Blog

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Applauding Five City Councilors

For over a year, Mayor Ness strove to bring additional efficiency to City Hall by endeavoring to reform the city's ponderous and antiquated Civil Service System. The city's Civil Service Code was written in the 1940s, several years prior to the enactment of federal and state employment laws which have eclipsed the need for the system.

The reform is long overdue. The Civil Service System is a relic from a bygone era wherein it is customary for the hiring of a city employee to take five or six months to process. By the time the City of Duluth is ready to hire a job candidate, that candidate is often long since hired by a more agile and decisive employer unencumbered by such a burdensome hiring process.

Why is such an outdated system still in place? It is advantageous for current employees hoping to advance or relocate within the city's operations. Current employees are often positioned well to wait the many months required to process job placements. However, an outsider seeking to become a City of Duluth employee is often unwilling or unable to forgo other employment opportunities while waiting for what, ultimately, may be an opportunity within the city. Current employees have the inside track. They win. City unions win. Unfortunately, the potential infusion of additional talent into the city is lost.

Until recently, the City Council appeared to be unwilling to take action on this hotly contested issue. Last year, the council repeatedly avoided taking a vote on the proposed reform. The decision was delayed and pushed into 2012. It was deferred to a new set of city councilors. The 2011 Council laid this issue at the doorstep of the 2012 Council, rang the doorbell, and ran into the darkness of a Duluth winter night.

Fortunately for those of us who reside in our beloved Zenith City, five of our nine current city councilors picked up the unfinished work. They voted to approve the Civil Service reform at a meeting held March 12. The vote was five in favor of the reform and four against.

Three of the five councilors who voted for the reform were newly elected in November 2011 (Councilors Jennifer Julsrud, Linda Krug and Emily Larson). Another was newly elected to return after being off the Council for a few years (Councilor Garry Krause). Only one of the five councilors was an incumbent (Councilor Dan Hartman).

The Chamber's Board of Directors has remained an unwavering advocate for bringing additional efficiency and effectiveness to the city's operations. Consequently, we are steadfast advocates for reforming the outdated Civil Service System. We applaud Mayor Ness for methodically moving the proposed reform steadily through an exhaustive evaluation process involving the Civil Service Board, the City's union leadership, and, ultimately, the City Council. It took courage to adopt this issue. The courage was largely provided by new, emerging leaders on the Council.

If you agree with the decision to reform the Civil Service System, I hope you will join me in letting these councilors know how much you appreciate their leadership.

In support,

David Ross, President & CEO

posted by David Ross at


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