Locals apathetic toward civil reforms

No New Haven residents attended a forum to discuss civil service reform Wednesday night, despite the city’s emphasis on the importance of the regulations.

The City Hall meeting was organized to foster discussion among locals about the changes to the New Haven Civil Service Rules, which recently underwent its first year-long comprehensive revision since 1962. Notable changes to the rules — which regulate the hiring of new government employees — include a stipulation by which the city can now hire former criminals.

New Haven’s Director of Human Resources Tina Burgett said she thinks civil service reform was long overdue, especially with regards to the clause that prevented city employment of the previously incarcerated, which Saranne Murray, the lawyer acting as outside counsel said is the most significant change to the regulations.

“[The clause] was a very archaic — almost a 19th century understanding of your character,” Burgett said.

Burgett also emphasized the overall importance of thorough and constantly updated civil service rules.

“The fundamental underlying value of civil service is hiring on the basis of merit and fitness rather than any other affiliations,” she said.

But the city’s calls for civil service reform were not enough to draw any local residents to the Wednesday hearing. Members of the commission said the turnout was much smaller than expected, especially since after just a slight reform last year, the hearing was well attended — by over 100 people, Murray said — and debate was lively.

The change that caused controversy last year was the addition of residency preference, which gives candidates applying for government employment five additional percentage points on their civil service examinations for being a New Haven resident. The current passing score on the exam is a 70 percent and, in most cases, the candidate with the highest score is awarded the job.

Segaloff scheduled another public forum for next Wednesday night at the Controller’s Office at 6:00 p.m.

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