Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Nepotism and Patronage in East Greenbush

Quoted below is a paragraph from an anonymous blog comment from East Greenbush Talks attacking the qualifications of a friend of mine related to his knowledge and experience in the "personnel officer" business.  I happen to know that Ray Mooney has had substantial career experience in the personnel field, and offered him an opportunity to respond. 

First the quote from the "genius" on Talks:

"Ray doesn't want to hear about the public sector. He only can relate to 
the private sector and the set of rules they follow. He obviously has no 
knowledge of hiring practices in the public sector , yet he chooses to 
target Town hiring policies ignorantly and like his blog partner 
Johnson, refuses to acknowledge their inadequacies and lack of education 
on the actual subject matter. Private sector experience is irrelevant to 
public hiring practices."
Here's Ray's response:
Don, I don't generally like to respond to cowardly nameless bloggers. But I am willing, in this case, to make an exception.

It is true that my only real exposure to public sector hiring is through what I am able to observe here in East Greenbush. What I have learned is that nepotism and patronage are pretty much the sole or single criteria for hiring. I would challenge my friends and neighbors on the Talks blog to supply facts and their names with any examples to the contrary. Please note: I am not drawing distinctions between the major political parties. I think when it comes to nepotism and patronage there is no political high ground and the best interests of the taxpayers are not being served.

Nepotism not an unknown practice in the private sector. It exists primarily in family owned and run businesses.

I do not recall the stats any more but some huge percentage of publicly held companies prohibit nepotism. Now, why exactly would that be? If nepotism was an advantage to the business; if nepotism advanced the business' goals and objectives you can bet your bottom dollar those businesses would not just allow but would encourage nepotism. But...a tremendous majority do not. There must be good or valid business reasons for that to be the case.

Patronage is only slightly different. Patronage passes taxpayer money to political cronies as a reward for support and, it has always seemed to me, to discourage dissent and criticism from within. I think patronage is kind of like "omerta" in organized crime.

In the private sector all companies have to, by law, offer employment equally to all qualified people regardless of race, age, gender, religion, national origin, and some other criteria. Companies that do business with the federal government have to take affirmative steps (called an Affirmative Action Plan or AAP) to make sure their hiring and other practices conform generally to the percentage of minorities in their business area. The Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP) audits affirmative action plans and supporting data.

Moving from a general discussion to specifics...

I think the fact that our town is in the financial condition it has been in during the recent past, is in now and, in the absence of any financial plan, will continue to be into the future is all that is needed to indicate that practices such as nepotism and patronage do not serve the best interests of the taxpayers of our town. I back up this assertion with the fact that the two most obvious nepotism appointments in our town of two town board members direct family were misrepresented to taxpayers last year and have been buried in some political never never land this year. If these appointments made good sense; if the taxpayer was seeing real benefit for her/his dollar these appointments would be something the town board was proud of and would share with the public - the very people paying for them. But, for 2012 and 2013 that was not the case.

I have heard that one potential candidate for town board has said that a primary campaign focus will be that this candidate has no family members or friends that are seeking jobs - how very telling.

Everything I wrote about diversity and leadership, or the lack thereof, in my earlier comment I stand by 100%. 

In summary - I guess nepotism and patronage were concepts that could be ignored when our town's financial performance was better. In today's financial reality and with the lack of a Town Board sponsored financial plan, nepotism and patronage do not seem to be concepts that serve the best interests of taxpayers.