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Report of the Committee on the Civil Service
TO THE NATIONAL CIVIL SERVICE REFORM LEAGUE :
Your Committee on Civil Service in the Dependencies begs leave to report that:
A civil service law was passed by the Porto Rican legislature and duly approved by the Governor on March 14th, 1907. The law, a copy of which is attached to this report, becomes effective on January first next.
In most respects the act is satisfactory, being designed to establish the merit system in the island. There was one clause, however, providing that the appointment and removal of the registrars of property and members of the insular police force and teachers shall continue to be governed by the special laws in force concerning them. Your committee was somewhat exercised as to the true ineaning and import of this and has accordingly souglit to ascertain the facts of the case with the following result:
The provision in the Porto Rican civil service law with regard to the police force and teachers is as follows:
“The classified service shall comprise all positions not included in the unclassified service, provided, however, that the appointment and removal of the registrars of property, of members of the insular police force, and of teachers in the public schools, shall continue to be governed by the special laws in force concerning them, and provided that the teachers in the public schools shall be considered as members of the classified civil service for the purposes of promotions within the department of education."
This provision was inserted we are advised because
both the police force and the teachers are at the present time under a civil service systein of their own.
The police are selected after examination by a nonpolitical board of three men, appointed by the Governor. Politics are not considered we are told and during the the three years of Governor Winthrop's administration this method of selecting the police worked very satisfactorily, because of the Governor's personal interest in the maintenance of the merit system in all possible branches of the service. Promotions to the position of corporal are made after examination, and above this grade without examination, the Governor making all appointments above the rank of sergeant.
With regard to the appointment of teachers the law provides :
"Teachers of English shall be graduates of a firstclass high school, normal school, college or university, or teacher of extended experience holding a high-grade certificate from some State of the United States, or they shall pass an examination in the English language, including writing, spelling reading, grammar, arithmetic, geography, history of the United States, physiology and methods of teaching."
Under this law all applications received are systematically investigated as a preliminary to a careful and discriminate selection.
With regard to teachers speaking other than English, licenses are issued originally upon the results of examinations held by the department of education of Porto Rico. Upon presentation of diplomas, graduates of the normal school of Porto Rico, both in the elementary course of two years and the full course of four years, are entitled when they have the age required by law, to receive licenses as graded teachers. If too young to be granted this grade, they receive rural licenses, or licenses to teach in the elementary rural schools.
In the case of Porto Rican graduates of normal schools in the United States, the department has author
ity to issue a rural but not a graded license. One year's experience in the schools of Porto Rico is required before a grarled license can be issued.
The selections of both the police and the school teachers proved satisfactory under Governor Winthrop. This being the case, it was deemed inadvisable by legislature to change the existing law, especially as we are advised that any such attempt might have jeopardized the passage of the law itself.
The present Governor of the island has appointed the three members of the civil service board as required by the provisions of the new law. The chairman is Mr. Harry C. Coles, at the present time connected with the United States Civil Service Commission. The other members are Don Lugo Viña, formerly attached to the Medical Department of the United States Army in Porto Rico, and Mr. Rafael Palacios Rodriguez, who served as Municipal Judge and Acting District Attorney with great satisfaction during Governor Winthrop's term of office as Governor.
Your Committee believe that the law on the whole is a very good one, although the provision exempting the police might from some aspects of the question and under some circumstances call for criticism, because after all the existing method is nothing more than a selection aiter an examination by a non-political board of police commissioners who also control the administration of the police department. It is not in accordance with sound theory and practice that the examining board and the appointing power should be one and the same, especially where there is no rule for competition. There is no doubt that there is a strong feeling, however, that the Governor should not surrender the power to recruit the police force from adherents to the United States in the island. Moreover, the present arrangement has worked well under Governor Winthrop, and we have no reason to anticipate any other result under the present administration.
The registrars of property who are exempt from the provisions of the rule are, we are informed, quite unimportant, receiving small salaries.
Your Committee reports these facts to the Council with the feeling that they constitute a gratifying development in the right direction, and while there are some provisions which might, with advantage, be changed, the Act of March 14th, 1907, represents a very decided advance and on the whole an encouraging outcome of the years of effort made to secure a law on the subject in Porto Rico
HIENRY W. HARDON,
Mr. Clinton R. Woodruff, Chairman of the Committee on Dependencies, presented a minority report concurring in the majority report, with the exception that the sentence “Moreover the present arrangement has worked well under Governor Winthrop and we have no reason to anticipate any other result under the present administration” should be changed to read: “Moreover the present arrangement has worked well under Governor Winthrop and we have no reason to anticipate any other result under the present Governor, and for that matter so long as Theodore Roosevelt continues as President of the United States with the power of appointing the Governor of Porto Rico."
Address of Welcome.
BY HON. J. N. ADAM, MAYOR OF BUFFALO.
As Mayor I frequently enjoy the privilege and the pleasure of extending civil courtesies to associations meeting here in convention to discuss and further their own particular interests.--we are always glad to have them here,—but coming as you do in the furtherance of our interests, it affords me very special pleasure to welcome you.
In this instance Buffalo is thrice honored. We always try to welcome the distinguished Chief Execuitive of our state whose course enables every citizen to follow loyally where he leads; we are also glad to greet the eminent men of the country who, with the Governor, are in attendance at this gathering, and we are happy to extend the hospitality of Buffalo to the League as a force working for justice, efficiency and right in the public -ervice throughout the nation.
I was reading last night an address which Rudyard Kipling made a few days ago in Toronto. He spoke of a man who had stepped aside from the sheep tracks of litile politicians and who in his declining years had put aside ease and comfort that he might lead the younger generation to follow a new path, and he spoke further of other men who for objects in which they had no specific interest except the honor and integrity of their city, their -tate or their country were willing to endure hardship and misunderstanding. When I read it I could not help think of George William Curtis and the members of the Civil Service Reform League.
In spite of many adverse circumstances the grand work of the League has gone steadily on. It was a fight against corrupt practices, against wickedness in high places, iigainst an entrenched army of spoilers, but it has been won, and if there are still hovering on the outposts little bands of marauders, thiese, too, will finally be sub