Page images
PDF
EPUB

under Rule VII, paragraph 4, and Rule III, paragraph 3, but that such expert examiners should have been taken from the existing eligible list for engineers, it appears that the Municipal Commission was perfectly justified in the position that it took, to wit, that a man might be qualified to fill an engineering position and to obtain a place upon an eligible list and yet not be a person satisfactory to the Commission and to whom could be entrusted the examination of the papers of other applicants for engineering positions. That the Commission was right in its conclusion in this regard has been clearly indicated within the last few weeks when at a competitive examination held by the Municipal Commission for the position of examiner in mechanical engineering, I am inforined only one candidate succeeded in obtaining a place upon the eligible list for the position. This examination was conducted by engineers suggested to the Municipal Commission by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

The manner of appointing monitors by the Municipal Com

mission is somewhat interesting in view of the fact that monitors

are in all probability the lowest paid employees in the city service. They receive five dollars a day when employed, and as the testimony shows, with one or two exceptions, none of them are employed on an average more than twice a month. The Municipal Commission, in holding a competitive examination for the position of monitor, is setting an example which the State Commission inight do well to follow, as monitors in the State service are appointed by the State Commission at random and without examination of any kind.

As to provisional appointments, it should be kept in mind that the present Municipal Commission came in office on October 5, 1904, and is not responsible for the acts of its predecessors. Neither should papers of candidates be so hastily gone over as to result in errors as to markings. In the examination for axeman, the list was promulgated within one month after the present Commission took office; the list for transitman within seven weeks; and in the examination for rodman the delay of five months is not extraordinary in view of the testimony of the chief examiner that it was impossible for the examining staff at his command to keep up with the engineering work that had come to him since October, 1904; and in view of the fact that there were 4:4 candidates in the examination. The testimony given by the chief examiner and the assistant chief examiner of the Municipal Commission on this point shows the enormous amount of work done by the Municipal Commission through its board of examiners. The chief examiner testified that in numerous instances it was a physical impossibility for the examiners to have in readiness the eligible lists at the end of the sixty day period allowed by law, and the assistant chief examiner testified in reference to the examination for inspector of licenses that there were 1,600 candidates in the examination ; that in rating examination papers of the candidates he read on an average of 300 pages a day, each page containing from 100 to 150, and some times 200 words, which was three times as much copy as he was ever required to read in one day in a newspaper office; at that rate it being a physical impossibility to complete the rating of the examination papers within the two months required by

law.

If there was one thing made clear in the course of the investigation, it was that the present Municipal Commission had rendered impossible violations of the Civil Service Law in the labor class. Titles of laborers, rockman, sounder and tar and gravel roofer, with many others, were abotished by the Municipal Commission almost immediately upon its taking office in October, 1904. Mr. Fowler, our chief examiner, in one of his reports says: “In my opinion the present Commission should be commended for its action in stopping certifications under special titles and for its recent action in limiting and specifying the titles under which foreinen may register.” He further states in the same report: “Mr. Birdseye and I have not felt that we were in a position to discuss the various political features advanced by the reform association, finding as a rule that they do not affect the action of the Municipal Commission itself in any direct way." Again in the same report, Mr. Fowler says: “I believe that the present Coinmission has a much better record on these matters than either the · McCooey Commission' or the “Ogden Commission' which preceded it. They have stopped all of the abuses resulting from subdivision of labor titles except in the case of foreman.” The statement that "the examinations suggested the probability that many of the witnesses, not examined, had secured unfair advantages and were not doing work applicable to their titles,” is an unjust stricture upon the Municipal Commission. The testimony of “unexamined witnesses" is surely a matter of conjecture, and what an “anexamined witness” actually is cannot be comprehended.

The employment of certain automobile repairists for successive periods of five days was justified by a fair construction of Rule XIX, paragraph 11, and by the needs of the service of the city of New York. The employment was continued pending the establishment of an eligible list for automobile enginemen, and as soon as such list was established all temporary employment ceased.

Criticism of the Municipal Commission in regard to the em

ployment of Girdell V. Brower, is not justified in view of the statement made by Commmissioner Talley, representing the Municipal Commission, at the close of the investigation. Defining the position of the Municipal Commission on this point, he said:

“ The position of the Municipal Civil Service Commission in reference to the matter which is known to the State Commis

sion and to us as the 'Brower Matter' is this: The attention of

the Cominission was called to the general circumstances surrounding the position of superintendent of ponds and reservoirs in Nassau county and the employment of Mr. Brower as a foreman of laborers. The Commission investigated thoroughly the entire situation and arrived at the determination that in its

opinion, it was highly important to the good of the city and the department of water supply in its efficient conduct of that highly important part of its work, that the position of superintendent of ponds and reservoirs should be made an exempt place. It acrordingly renewed the application to your Board which had previously been denied. It was denied a second time. The Municipal Commission is still of the opinion that the best interests of the city should be conserved by making that an exempt place by reason of the peculiar duties which must be performed; but in view of your Commission's denying its exemption, this Commission has since ordered that an open competitive

examination for the place be held, and that is the position of the Municipal Commission at the present time.”

Inasmuch as the examination for the position of superintendent of ponds and reservoirs has been held, and the eligible list established, it would appear that the incident had been closed.

The table of appeals considered from January 1, 1902, to June 1, 1905, presented in the joint report on this matter by the secretary and the chief examiner of the State Commission shows that in 1902, out of a total of 1,776 appeals received, 898 were granted; that in 1903, out of a total of 1,368 appeals, 2,199 were granted; that in 1904, up to October 5, out of a total of 2,166 appeals received, 697 were granted; that from October 5, to December 31, out of a total of 1,153 appeals, 467 were granted, and from January 1, 1905, to June 1, 1905, out of a total of 653 appeals received, only 65 were granted by the present Commission. In other words, during the years 1902, 1903 and 1904, an average of 50 per cent of the appeals received were granted, while from Janilàry 1 to June 1, 1905, under the operation of the new rule promulgated by the present Commission, less than 10 per cent of the appeals were granted. Surely a word of commendation is due to the present Municipal Commission, either for so largely cutting down the number of appeals granted, or for adopting a stricter rule in regard to the granting of appeals than was ever before in force. The instances cited where appeals granted were in each case appeals received before March 17, 1905, when the new appeal rule went into effect, and the Municipal Commission ought not to be criticized for not doing what the State Legislature itself cannot do, to wit: make a retroactive law or ruling. The report of the secretary and of the chief exam

were

« PreviousContinue »