If voters approve Measure Q in the March 8 election, the city of Los Angeles would be allowed to limit the number of people it tests for some open civil service positions; the city could stop accepting applications once it receives “an adequate number” of qualified applicants.
Currently the city has to test all qualified applicants, even if they are unlikely to be hired due to the overwhelming number of applicants. The process of testing and scoring applicants can take days.
The measure grew out of recommendations from the city’s personnel department.
“Under a tightly constrained budget, city managers have been asked to continue delivering city services with shrinking staffing levels. The proposed changes to the charter … assist managers operating with significantly reduced resources to continue delivering quality services to the community,” according to arguments in favor of the measure in the official voters guide.
Councilman Dennis P. Zine, the chairman of the personnel committee, and Margaret Whelan, the personnel department’s general manager, are among those who signed on to the pro-Measure Q arguments.
Other personnel changes that Measure Q would make include:
•Exempting deputy fire chiefs from civil service provisions
•Increasing the length of emergency appointments from 240 days to one year
•Ending the requirement that eligible candidates for civil service positions be certified three times
•Standardizing the probation period for the city’s sworn police officers
•Increasing the amount of time retirees can work to 120 days from 90 days
Measure Q has met some opposition, including from the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles.
“Our position is that we support measures that reduce all barriers to employment, except those based on merit, and the exam process should be open to all qualified candidates,” said Elizabeth Ralston of the League of Women Voters. “Basically, that’s exactly the language that’s being deleted in Measure Q.”
Ralston acknowledged that the large number of people applying for city jobs is a problem, but said Measure Q does not adequately address the issue. She said the measure’s current language could be abused, allowing just a small number of applicants handpicked by the City Council to test for an open position.
“You could have a competitive exam that would be given to people recommended by the City Council. I don’t think that’s what anybody intends, but that sounds to me that it would be completely possible under the charter language,” Ralston said.