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has the wisdom of the enactment been shown by the results which have been mentioned, namely, a classified civil service in every city, which is but a fulfilment of the clear mandate of the law, but the necessity of provisions which secure, even if by force, such city classification, has been repeatedly emphasized in the past year by opinions rendered by the attorney-general, which in effect hold that the constitutional provision that appointments shall be made by virtue of a competitive examination whenever practicable, is self-executory; from which it follows that although municipal commissions may not have been appointed and municipal rules may not have been prescribed and no examinations may have ever been held, appointments to places which in their nature can properly be filled by a competitive examination are invalid
and give to the incumbent no firm tenure.
The present civil service law provides that “the State Commission may by unanimous vote of the three commissioners, with the written approval of the governor, remove any municipal civil service commissioner appointed or employed under the authority of this section (section 10 of the civil service law) for incompetency, inefficiency, neglect of duty, or violation of the provisions of this act or of the rules and regulations in force thereunder or any of them, specifying in writing the particulars of the incompetency, inefficiency, neglect of duty or violation charged, and filing the same as a public document in the office of the city clerk, or if there be no city clerk, in the office of the board of aldermen, and a certified transcript thereof in the office of the State Civil Service Commission, first giving him an opportunity to make a per
sonal explanation in self-defense.” Inasmuch as the mayor of the city can always remove a commissioner for these reasons and in fact without assigning any reason, and inasmuch as the exercise of this power of removal given to the State Commission by the provisions above quoted would never become necessary except in a case where the mayor conspired with the local commissioners in violation of the law, it would seem that whenever such a removal was made by the State Commission, it, and not the mayor, should have the power of making new appointments. Such a right we believe the Commission has, but inasmuch as there is some obscurity in the statute, we earnestly recommend that section 10 be amended by inserting after the paragraph above quoted the following: “And in case any commissioner shall be removed in accordance with the foregoing provisions, the State Commission shall have power to fill such vacancy, provided that the same shall be made in such a manner that not over twothirds of the commissioners shall at any time be adherents of the same political party; and such persons appointed by the State Commission shall hold office until the expiration of the term of the mayor then in office and until their successors are appointed,
unless otherwise removed by the State Commission.”
Enforcement of the Law
The Commission is happy to report that not only has the spirit of the constitutional provision as to civil service appointments been carried out by new enactments and by the prescription, for the state and for every city, of rules and regulations and classifications consistent therewith, but that it believes that in the main there has been an endeavor to enforce the law. We confidently assert that in so far as the state service is concerned, the examina
tions have been fairly conducted and the law has been honestly administered. In the case of the cities we believe that there are but one or two exceptions to this statement. In a few cities, alleged frauds of a most heinous character have been recently brought to the attention of the State Commission, which it proposes to investigate and to remedy. So far as the reports made to us by the municipal commissions show, and so far as the Commission can learn by inquiry, we believe that with the exceptions just referred to, the examinations have in the main been fairly conducted and have been appropriate tests. It is, however, a proposition of easy demonstration that the opportunities for unfairness in city matters are quite as numerous as in state matters and the temptations are far greater because of the necessary acquaintance existing between the examining body and the candidates or their friends. The personal element is far more difficult to eliminate in city matters. This possibility of favoritism in city matters is so great that it is deserving of careful study and it is not improper for those who are interested in the enforcement of the law and in the enactment of such amendments as may be necessary, fo carefully keep watch of this phase of the question and to consider whether or not the examinations for municipal offices should be conducted by examining boards appointed by the State Commission instead of by boards appointed by the mayors of the various cities, who, of necessity, have numerous political ties and affiliations as well as personal obligations and personal prejudices. The matter is called to your attention at this time not as a matter of recommendation, but as something to be observed and considered. To secure the uniform and honest enforcement of the law and rules in the several cities of the state and to relieve the present
examining force of part of the excessive burden which it is now bearing, the Commission has recently decided to appoint an inspector and assistant to the chief examiner. In the former capacity he will be expected to visit the various municipalities and to inquire into the workings of the law and into the manner of its enforcement, to aid and advise the municipal officers in regard thereto, and to investigate and determine whether the examinations prescribed by the local commissions are appropriate in their character and are fairly conducted, and generally to act as the agent of the Commission in investigating these matters, which the Commission through its agents may, pursuant to the
statute, inquire into.
Certification of Pay-rolls
The provision of the statute which forbids disbursing officers from paying any sums to persons claiming compensation for services rendered to the state without a certificate from the Civil Service Commission, that the person seeking payment was appointed or employed in accordance with the civil service law and its rules and regulations, has been undoubtedly the most potent of all the means of enforcing the law. It has laid bare many schemes of evasion practiced in the past and its enforcement has resulted in purging the service of several persons irregularly and illegally appointed. The examination of the payrolls incidental to making proper certification has enormously increased the administrative work performed by the Commission
and its subordinates.
Extension of the Civil Service Law to Counties The civil service law clearly imposes upon the State Commission the duty of extending the provisions of the law to the coun
ties and the other civil divisions of the state as soon as it can practicably be done. During the past year the Commission has taken many steps in this direction. In the fall of the year the Commission resolved to consider at once the proper classification of the civil service positions in all counties which were included within the territory of Greater New York, and also in all counties which by the census of 1890 had a population of one hundred thousand or more. The Commission for this purpose sent circular letters to all the officials of these counties requesting a roster of their employees and a detailed statement as to their duties and responsibilities. It also held a meeting in New York, at which many of the officials of New York, Kings, Queens and Westchester counties were present, and it was in session at Rochester for the purpose of conferring with the Monroe county officials, and at Buffalo, where it met those of Erie county. Frequent meetings were held in Albany and at these the Commission met the officials of Albany, Onondaga and some other counties. The Commission is not yet ready to promulgate its classification owing to the lack of uniformity in the duties of various county positions, whose titles would, however, indicate similarity of duty and official power. We find that the county administration has been built up by a number of special statutes and that the liability of officers for the acts of their subordinates differs in almost every county. More time will be needed by us to inquire into these matters and ascertain specifically the duties and responsibilities of the many appointees and subordinates, as well as the liabilities of the various officials for the acts of their subordinates. We hope, however, that we will be able in the course of a few months to submit for your approval a classification, of the civil service of these counties. It is doubtful if, beyond the