Our opinion: Civil Service falls short


The advantages in using civil service for hiring are negated when the process fails to provide a wide pool of qualified candidates to choose from. For this reason, Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi and other community leaders are tired of being restricted by civil service and want to explore alternatives.

On Tuesday, a task force met for the first time at City Hall to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of civil service. Mr. Bianchi asserted that civil service doesn’t provide nearly the wide pool of candidates that the private sector does for important jobs. The Civil Service Unit is grievously underfunded and understaffed, leading some to suspect with reason that the state seeks to bleed it out of existence. It now takes six months just to get a civil service test result back.

City firefighters union President Tim Bartini made the valid point in Wednesday’s Eagle that Civil Service "is there to keep politics out of the job." But there are other ways to assure fairness.

Amherst Town Manager John Musante told the task force that a civilian panel had replaced Civil Service in doing the vetting process. Mayor Bianchi proposed a similar panel that could also include police and firefighters.

Pittsfield must also move away from the no-man’s-land of provisional status, where Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski has been stuck for four years and Police Chief Michael Wynn for seven. Pittsfield must consider new ways of hiring and promoting beyond the outdated Civil Service.


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