Council expected to side with Mayor on removing Civil Service as criteria for picking police, fire chiefs

27 Mar

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt

Peabody Mayor Ted Bettencourt

The Peabody City Council’s Legal Affairs Committee did the right thing last night in voting to advance to a vote of the full City Council Mayor Ted Bettencourt’s request to remove the police and fire chief’s jobs from the jurisdiction of Civil Service.

Councilor At-Large Jim Liacos said it best last night when he argued that the Mayor should have the ability to “pick his own team” without being hamstrung by Civil Service scores. Removing the barrier allows Peabody to find the best candidate for filling those executive positions, starting with the selection of a new police chief when Chief Robert Champagne retires on June 1.

There is also the issue of a Mayor being able to fire a department head based on performance.  Right now, unless there is some malfeasance, that’s not allowed under the Civil Service system.

Although Civil Service test scores need to remain an effective way of avoiding political patronage when it comes to hiring rank-and-file firefighters and police officers, a Mayor should have the right to pick his/her own department heads and executive team, regardless of test scores. I wrote about this earlier in the Eye, if you’d like to read more.

“We all want the best candidate, the most qualified person, for this critically important position and I believe removing the chief position, for both police and fire, from Civil Service gives us the best chance of finding the right person,” Bettencourt said.

Just three members of the Legal Affairs Committee were present last night, with Councilors Liacos and Bob Driscoll supporting the Mayor’s request. Councilor At-Large Anne Manning-Martin wasn’t supportive of the Mayor’s request.

The matter will now go before the full council on Thursday, where it’s expected to pass. The vote would serve as a home rule petition that the state legislature would then have to approve and have signed by the Governor.

You can read the full story here in the Peabody Patch.

Please let me know where you stand by leaving a comment.

34 Responses to “Council expected to side with Mayor on removing Civil Service as criteria for picking police, fire chiefs”

  1. Joey March 27, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

    Does anyone else feel that Anne Manning Martin is positioning herself to run for mayor? She is doing an awful lot of political grandstanding lately.

    • Anonymous March 27, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      One has to give thought to why there were so many members not in attendance that should have been there in the best interests of the city. This obvious absence of those who didn’t attend should leave a bad taste in every ones mouths . If this to be or is a bag job for the mayor to have his way then I think the readers should be aware that there has never, to my knowledge, a mayor or police chief that didn’t get along politically or personally. If Chief Champagne went through three mayors over the years since his appointment as chief and those before him as well then why the want of change? The only thing the mayor and chief have to do is the police budget and firing or the considering of any new officers for the department. A Mayor or / and City Council can request actions on some complaints by the public or some kind of emergency. Other than that the Mayor and the city council can not interfere with the running of the police department in its daily enforcement of the law. They can ask for a change in the administrating of how the department and its officers do there work for the public they are there to serve. So why is the mayor really trying to have it his way is the question to be truthfully answered. He has to remember the old saying about power and absolute power and its control of that power by ,usually,one person.

      • anonymous too November 21, 2013 at 2:08 am #

        i think it is a great thing,, after all the mayor is boss.. One other thing, I hear the police is having cameras in their cars and outside the cars,,, a good thing, but if they can be erased,,they will be of no use to anyone and a joke,,,can they be uploaded to a private unbiased security company in real time. I know boston is doing random recordings, so no one knows who is being recorded. I also heard that they can be followed by their laptops? I wonder if this is true and if it would expand to all city vehicles. I wonder if that can be done, you know have Homeland Security fund it.
        I love it. How does it feel to be targeted guys? Never thought it would come around to you? You would be exempt,, think again, welcome to my world..You deserve it. I know it’s going to get worse for you and maybe for all of us as well.

    • Anony March 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

      grandstanding? sounds like Manning was simply doing her job. If the rest of the council did their research like her (or even showed up) she wouldn’t be the only one up their who knows what she’s talking about.

      • JLM March 27, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

        She has been grandstanding for a while on a bunch of issues including the stupid overplayed billboard issue on Lowell Street. Only a few people in the condos care about that billboard. Time to move on Ann. She is all about getting her name in the Peab. Patch.

  2. Anony March 27, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Liacos and Driscoll aren’t members of the Legal Affairs Subcommittee. Does anyone else feel that it is weird that four of the five real members bagged the meeting?

  3. Anon March 27, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

    Will a new (different) mayor be able to fire “Teddy’s” chosen one?

    If so, at what cost to the Peabody taxpayer?

  4. Ted Nation March 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

    Do not know about that but she is clearly making it pretty obvious that she is anti Bettencourt. She made her bed here by supporting Fitzgerald and now the Mannings are on the outside looking in. She better hope all of the Bettencourt fans do not now jump on Margaret Tierney’s bandwagon or it will be goodbye Anne on the CC.

  5. Anonymous March 27, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    This is a no brainer. Should Obama have had to check Kerry’s civil service score before making him Secretary of State? Bettencourt is CEO of the city. He should get to pick and fire his own department heads as he sees fit. If you do not like it, then vote him out of office. Those are the breaks. To the victor goes the spoils. Anne Manning’s guy Fitz lost the mayor’s race. Someone should remind her of that fact.

  6. Anony March 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    There is something to be said in the interest of public safety that a police chief should not change whenever we get a new mayor. Chief of police should not be a political position.

    • Bill March 27, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      So Anony is it in the best interest of public safety to have a Chief who is failing when it comes to competency? Under the current civil service rules the Mayor cannot remove that person unless he does something illegal.

      • Anonymous March 27, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

        That is just one reason why I feel the appointing of a new chief should have to include a mental and physical examination whether the appointment is from the inside or outside the department. Police work does take a lot out of a candidate as does the normal process of aging.

      • Anony March 27, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

        Is our current police force incompetent? They have been promoted from within. Is it your contention that the top three, whoever they are, are inept?

      • Anony March 27, 2013 at 4:15 pm #

        Wrong Bill. Massachusetts cases clearly state that you can remove a chief for incompetence. Bone up on your contentions. Besides, why does everybody think that chiefs will turn incompetent when they have work their way up the ranks through civil service. They have records. If they have a record of being incompetent, then don’t choose that guy. It is that simple.

    • Bill March 27, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

      No. That is NOT my contention at all! Just saying two things. 1. A CEO of the city (the mayor) has to have control over who serves as his department heads, and 2. have options to pick his own management team. He also needs to have the option to fire someone if he thinks it is in the best interest of getting the job done right for the taxpayers. My comments have nothing to do with the current chiefs at all. Also how does eliminating Civil Service as a factor here eliminate someone from within the dept. from being a candidate? There are definitely qualified candidates right now within the dept. but as a taxpayer I also want my mayor to hire the BEST person based on all of the criteria.

  7. Anony March 27, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    The city can use assessment centers now for more thorough screening and to determine who gets on the list. Either civil service regional or by private contract. I don’t know why everyone is ignoring this very significant fact.

  8. Jason March 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm #

    Why is anyone bagging on Anne? I think all of the councilors should be asking questions. Shame on the rest of them for not doing their jobs.

    • anonymous March 27, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

      Because in this town if you ask questions or don’t go along with the status quo you are considered a troublemaker instead of a good councilor.

    • Anon March 28, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      I agree. some of them are just getting a check and benefits off of us.

  9. ralph smith March 27, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Anne Manning-Martin was obviously just doing her job! if she was a guy you probably wouldnt say anything. i bet she couldnt care less abt getting attention from the patch.

  10. Anonymous March 27, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    Maybe there is an ex-cop out there who knows what the civil scores are and is advising the mayor accordingly?

    • Anony March 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

      THANK YOU for stating the obvious but unsaid.

    • Anony March 27, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

      EOP Editor: Why did you delete my comment recognizing the importance of the observation of this comment. It is very thought provoking in terms of real political motivation. I will screen shot my current comment in the event you choose to delete this too.

      • Bob Croce March 28, 2013 at 7:23 am #

        Because you used a vulgar word in that comment that violates my posting policy.

    • Anonymous March 28, 2013 at 11:52 am #

      To the best of every ones being aware the civil tests scores results are accurate and above board. When the post of 3/27 @ 6:59 says there may be some cop knows the test scores it is a far and unwanted reach to get at the mayors father and his family. As we all know the mayors father was brought to task over this and the results were not really proven and the results of the test scores were never revealed by his police dept.computer inquiries by his father. Wake up and inquire of CIVIL SERVICE if there has been a breech of there COMPUTERS that would or has been an intrusion of their rights of legal and public privacy ,etc. Until you get that answer keep your writeing and your mouth shut. In short, stop making accusations that are[ until ]now unfounded. You can be sued for slander ,etc. Your never safe on any computer site. Look at Facebook and the well known dating sites and porn sites to be sure if you doubt the way of your safe security when posting. Just a suggestion is all and its just my humble opinion.

  11. Anonymous March 27, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Anne Manning shoud not even be voting on this. Her brother is on the fire department. It could affect him. She said it was a conflict to vote on the health insurance for the fire department and this issue is totally a conflict of interest. She should have recused herself.
    For someone who is in charge of the legal affairs committee, she should know better. This very well could bring a law suit on the city. The ethics commission should know about this.

    • Anony March 27, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

      Yo Anonymous, how does voting on a chiefs position have anything to do with her bro. Last time I checked, her bro wasn’t up for the police chief job slot. Maybe you should be schooled on what a conflict of interest means. Maybe you out to look at the “Anonymous” 3/27/13 comment at 6:59 pm and ask yourself about REAL conflicts.

  12. the Outfront Guy* March 27, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    OG says…reality check….Teflon Ted is going to be our Mayor for as long as he wants to be…now with that said let’s look ahead here on this issue…it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans what Teflon Ted would ‘like to do’……..the real question is this…will the state legislature and Deval give him what he wants?

    • Anony March 27, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

      Of course. The state rubber stamps this stuff.

    • Anonymous March 28, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      You could have a point but have you given any thought to any new chief wanting to loose the position as time goes on. – Ex. A mayor appoints a new chief at his finding the person ,-so called-, best for the job.- [ With or without civil service testing]- Eventually the mayor proves to be less than expected and looses his job in the next election. The chief would have to be reappointed by the new mayor and at that mayors mercy to be able to stay on as chief. Who in their right mind would want to be chief knowing that the position was at the discretion of a mayor from year to year ,election to election? The chiefs job would have to be one that gives them full benefits of retirement,etc. immediately upon loosing the position due to any new mayors wanting to put another in that position. The position of chief by a mayor would be political pay back and, or, to have a do as I say from the mayor better known as power as some one had written about earlier on 3/27@1:43pm. Can the taxpayers afford to pay for more chiefs benefits more frequently with this probable way of having a chief placed in that position from year to year,election to election? I think not. Jmho as usual!

    • Anon March 28, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Done Deal. Sorry for the mis-spelling.

      • Anonymous March 28, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

        “Done Deal” what more can or do you have to say and contribute to the matter at hand ? That being if any thing at all other than “Done Deal” ?

  13. Anonymous March 28, 2013 at 5:38 pm #

    I’m thinkn this some how is a dig to the outgoing chief. Sort of like implying he never would of lasted this long if mayor could of just fired him.

    • Anonymous March 29, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      The past is the past. If your alluding to the mayors father and the Civil Service issues you should really think before you do. Champagne was looking forward to retirement long ago. He wanted to go to go out west to ski and he was looking at a job opportunity out there as chief. If you think for one minute the mayor is looking for retaliation for his fathers problems then you have to wake up real quick. Why would he want to foul up his new mayoral position when it would cause him nothing but trouble publicly? The mayor may or may not have his dislikes of the chief due to the past but you have to consider what it would do to him as a political and community leader knowing that the chief was to and will retire soon enough w/o him being stupid enough to force the chief into retirement. A smart man waits for time to go by knowing times ,people , and things change soon enough . My guess is that man is the mayor .

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