SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

March 13, 2014

Civil service proposal defeated

(Continued)

Driscoll said the new system would be more well-rounded than the current one and would offer the city a more robust field of applicants to choose from.

“It’s not just about who happened to take the right exam at the right time and there happened to be an opening,” Driscoll said.

The civil service issue took on special timeliness when police Chief Paul Tucker announced recently that he’s running for state representative. Tucker said last night that he supported the mayor’s proposal because it focused on internal candidates and offered a better oversight system for appointments.

He also said that the Civil Service Commission itself was frustrating to work with, especially when it came to things like disciplinary actions.

“It’s a broken system, there’s no appetite to fix it, and it’s not going to get better,” Tucker said.

Fire Chief David Cody spoke next, arguing for his position to stay under civil service. Firefighter Ray Krajeski, president of the Salem Firefighters Union, argued for the same thing, saying a fire chief has to have a deep knowledge of the people he or she is working with, given the danger posed by the job.

“When it comes to a matter of life and death ... whoever that lead command officer is can look at five people and know their strengths and weaknesses at the snap of a finger,” Krajeski said. He added that civil service “is a good system; it’s worked. We haven’t had problems in Salem.”

Saying there would never be a need to hire a chief from outside the department, Lt. James Walker said he was upset the issue had come up to begin with.

“I’m insulted. I’m embarrassed that we’re even here talking about this,” Walker said. “This didn’t have to happen.”

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