By the end of the month, the City Council will approve a major revision in the way personnel matters are handled for the city's 40,000 employees. The change was mandated in the home-rule charter. Congress recognized that many District emplyees were regulated by the federal Civil Service Commission while others were subject to one or another local code.The measure before the council brings most city employees under local authority. It also clarifies standards for job conduct, health and safety requirements, and salary negotiations. Employee grievance, procedures are simplified.
The bill has a major failing. It does not go far enough in giving the mayor authority to hire - and fire - his own department heads. It would only allow him to transfer unwanted department heads to jobs at equal pay elsewhere in the government. They cannot be fired outright unless the mayor documents poor performance. That's not enough. The mayor should be given authority to hire and fire his cabinet. They are the people designated to carry out his orders. They should be directly accountable to him.
On the question of school-board pay, the council's decision to set the pay at $17,500 is an attempt to balance off the low pay consistent with the board's public service tradition and the full pay consistent with the actual workload and the importance of the post. This compromise does not answer all the questions everyone might ask about the relationship of the remuneration and the responsibility of this particular job but it suits us.
Council members are taking up this complex measure in bite-size pieces, and they have given preliminary approval to one important item - a pay increase for the mayor (up $8,500 to $60,000), council chairman (up $5,000 to $45,000) and council members (up $5,000 to $35,000). Some people, including a few council members, have questioned whether the council increases are warranted. We think they are. Those jobs are full-time posts, combining state and local responsibilities, and the elected officials who fill those jobs should be adequately compensated.