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ALBANY, N. Y., December 31, 1910. To the Governor:
The State Civil Service Commission hereby submits its Twentyeighth Annual Report.
The completion of 1910 rounds out a period of six years' work without change in the personnel of the Commission. During this time many new agencies of the State government have been created, involving considerable increases in the number of public employees, and through the extension of the rules over additional
increase in population the roster has steadily grown, with a result that while in 1905 the Commission exercised supervision over five counties in addition to the State service, covering an aggregate of 11,000 positions, it now supervises the service in seventeen counties and seven villages, in addition to the State service, and has 16,000 positions within its purview, an increase of over 45 per cent. in the six years. During this period the number of positions in the competitive class has increased in a yet larger proportion, growing from 4,080 in 1905 to 7,722 the past year. Its work of examination shows a corresponding increase, the number of candidates entering its examinations in 1905 being only 6,923 as compared with 13,658 in the year now closing.
Legislation. The usual bills proposing to amend the Civil Service Law for the benefit of individuals or classes were introduced at the recent session of the Legislature. Two of these were passed. The object of one was to put veterans who served as soldiers in the regular army during the Spanish War on the same footing as volunteers as to tenure of office, making all veterans of that war unremov
able except for incompetency or misconduct and after a hearing upon stated charges, and to extend the same measure of protection to those who served in the incidental insurrections in the Philippines, prior to July 4, 1902. This was approved by the Governor. Another, designed to extend the provision giving an employee an opportunity to make explanation before removal, now applicable in New York city, to the other portions of the State, and to extend the right of a suspended employee to reinstatement through a period of three years to any corresponding or similar position, was disapproved.
The Executive also withheld approval of an act revising the charter of the city of Amsterdam because of a provision setting aside the Civil Service Law so far as the chief engineer of the fire department and the chief of police were concerned.
Several bills designed to strengthen the merit system were introduced at the last session of the Legislature, either at the . suggestion of the Commission or the New York Civil Service Reform Association, but they failed of passage. The Commission renews its recommendation for the extension to municipal commissions of the power of investigation within their several jurisdictions, now possessed by the State Commission, and by the New York City Commission under charter provision; the clarifying of the law respecting certifications more certainly to prevent the abuse of employing a person nominally in one position but actually in another for which he had not qualified; the allowance of a test by a taxpayer's action of the legality of the appointment of persons held to be public officers (such as policemen) in the classified service, as well as those held to be mere public employees, the remedy by quo warranto for violations of the Civil Service Law being in most cases cumbersome and ineffective; and the restriction of statutory exemption of deputies authorized hy law to act generally for and in place of their principals to one deputy, leaving the exemption of others to the discretion of the Commission and the Governor, according to the circumstances of each case.
As to Probation Officers. In approving Assembly bill No. 2240, Senate reprint No. 1482, relating to the inferior courts of criminal jurisdiction in the city of New York, the Governor considered the provision
declaring that the probation officers shall be deemed the confidential officers of the justices and magistrates,” and while strongly condemning such characterization of positions in the public service by legislative acts, expressed his belief that it did not preclude the filling of the positions through competitive examinations. In this he had the support of the State Civil Service Commission, which held that the use of the word “ confidential" would not make it necessary to classify the positions as exempt from examination, and which instanced the fact that “probation officers have been appointed in cities and counties throughout the State as the result of open competitive examinations and with entirely satisfactory results.”
The New York City Civil Service Commission first called an examination of candidates for the position of probation officer, but later canceled the call, and after prolonged discussion and delay, adopted a resolution classifying the position in the exempt class. Mayor Gaynor disapproved this resolution, but before an examination could be held and an eligible list established, Mr. Justice Maddox, on application of a Brooklyn citizen, granted a peremptory writ of mandamus commanding the board of city magistrates to appoint probation officers as provided by the statute without regard to the civil service classification, on the ground that appointments from a fixed date were mandatory and incidentally he expressed the opinion that as confidential positions they were exempt. This decision has been appealed by the corporation counsel of New York, and the Municipal Civil Service Commission is going on with its preparation of eligible lists. Inasmuch as the Court of Appeals in the case of Hammond v. Ricker et al. recently decided that an action to reclassify positions in a service of a municipality could not be maintained unless the State Commission was made a party to the action, it is not to be supposed that this attempt to determine a question of classification collaterally can succeed. The law devolves upon the municipal and State commissions the duty of classification and makes every place competitive until it has been otherwise classified. If interested parties could secure judgments practically upsetting the classification without making the commissions parties thereto and allowing them their day in court, the greatest opportunity for abuse would be offered.