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has made, although not capable of earning a direct pecuniary profit; and the citizens may well congratulate themselves that the system was so judiciously laid out in the first place, and that the original plans have been so carefully adhered to by successive park commissioners.
Appointments of heads of departments and to some other offices are made by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the Board of Aldermen. Subordinate appointments are made by the heads of departments, in some few cases the approval of the Mayor being also necessary. These subordinate appointees are all within the scope of the civil service rules, except the deputy superintendents, heads of divisions, and other persons charged with responsible executive duties, the employees of the City Treasurer, Collector, and Mayor, and some miscellaneous officers, such as messengers, deputy sealers of weights and measures, assistant assessors, etc.1 With these exceptions, all the employees of the City Government, including the laborers, are within the scope of the rules laid down by the Civil Service Commission.
During the past four years these rules have been amended so as to include employees who up to that time had not been classified; and the rule permitting temporary employment or thirty days without drawing on the lists of the Civil Service Commission has been modified so as to allow such employment for a period of five days only.
The City Council of 1892 passed an ordinance forbidding city employees to serve upon political committees. An attempt to repeal this ordinance in 1893 was stopped by executive reto. A similar ordinance was passed by the City Council of Cambridge in 1892 and repealed the following year; and an attempt to induce the Legislature of 1893 to enact a similar law relating to State and county employees
1 See St. 1884, ch. 320, and amendments, particularly St. 1893, ch. 95.
was defeated. The city of Boston thus remains the sole, as it was the first, public body in the country to prohibit officeholders from serving upon political committees or acting as delegates to political conventions. The object of this reform was to prevent the creation of a political machine consisting of office-holders; and this object has been successfully accomplished, as appears from the fact that since the passage of the ordinance, city officers and employees other than those elected by the people have not been permitted to serve upon the political committees of either party, or to act as delegates to nominating conventions.
Frequent requests are received for a statement of the general results of the application, through the State Civil Service Commission, of the merit system to the selection of municipal employees; and it may be proper to record here the opinions which the experience of the last four years has led me to form.
The system has not resulted in the elimination of politics. from the City Government; for although little opportunity for political preference remains in respect to the original selection, yet as soon as appointed the employees form organizations for mutual protection and advancement. These organizations are political, though not partisan, in character; the laborers in the several departments organize in labor assemblies with the object of securing permanent employment, an increase in the number of holidays, higher wages, and, generally, an extension of the privileges accorded to this class of city employees; the firemen associate themselves together for the purpose of procuring more leisure, an increase in salaries, and otherwise to advance their interests; and the police officers work for pensions and other privileges. This activity among the civil service employees of the city is not political in character in the sense that it is exerted in favor of either the Democratic or Republican parties. It may rather be said to be antagonistic to the party for the time being in power. The movement is, however, distinctly political, as intended to secure special privileges
from the City Government or the Legislature through political pressure. The adoption of the civil service principle has not eliminated political activity from the City Government; it has simply changed its form.
As to the fundamental question, whether better men are secured by this system than before, I am inclined to think that the advantage, while slight, is with the merit system. Theoretically, better men can be selected by the heads of departments than through any species of examination, oral or written; but practically, I think that better results are obtained in the long run through the merit system, making the exceptions stated at the beginning of this chapter. Some difficulty has been experienced in getting competent men from the civil service lists in certain classes of work, - particularly in stenography, — but with this exception I should say that the men sent down by the Civil Service Commission have been on the average superior to those likely to have been appointed by the departments, if allowed to select their employees at will-that is to say, under the pressure of political and personal considerations.
While, therefore, it cannot be said that the system has worked a radical improvement in the character and capacity of our city employees, and while it has wholly failed to eliminate politics, using that word in its broadest sense, from the public service, still it has one great advantage which in my opinion outweighs all inconveniences and shortcomings, and that is the protection it affords to the heads of departments against the pressure of individual office-seekers, politicians, and political committees. Without this protection, the difficulty of conducting the city business under the present charter, which concentrates all the executive business in the Mayor and heads of departments, would be increased to such an extent as to make the office of Mayor almost untenable; and it was a fortunate thing for the City Government that the civil service principle was introduced simultaneously with the charter amendments of 1885. On the whole, therefore, while the system
has not worked in practice exactly as was predicted, still it has worked fairly well, and is an indispensable protection to the executive officers of the city.
Extreme partisanship in appointments to heads of departments has never obtained in this city, and while these officers are not within the scope of the civil service rules, it may not be out of place to record the fact that on January 1, 1891, there were among the salaried heads of departments twenty-seven Republicans. Of these, one was removed for cause, one resigned, one lost his place through a consolidation of departments, six were not reappointed at the expiration of their terms, and the remaining eighteen were either reappointed or transferred to some other department. Of the eighteen thus retained two have since died, one has resigned, and one has failed of reappointment.