Thursday, March 3, 2011

The good ole boys?

The Blue Earth County Board is pondering how to fill the seat left vacant by the retirement of Dennis McCoy who served as county administrator after 30 years. He was promoted from his position as the county's human resources manager.
Rather than seizing this moment as an opportunity, the board seems to be focused on whether to just give it to the in-house interim or open it up to other county employees. Our editorial board has been trying unsuccessfully to have it give serious consideration to opening it up to outside candidates.
Our argument is a lot has changed in 30 years. Demands on the county have increased and state government funding is at a crisis. We've argued this might be the time to get a professional administrator to give the board different perspectives. Alas, the plea fell on deaf ears. Its excuse was time, expense and inexperience in outside searches. What it seems to be missing is --how does this affect the integrity of the process or the credibility of the candidate?
In the past, it was a widespread practice that civil service jobs in the U.S. went to relatives or friends of existing employees or elected officials. The American Civil Service Act was passed over 125 years ago because patronage jobs and favoritism weakened the perspective on government service. "It's not what you know, but who you know."
This, in turn, undermined the faith in government itself.
I am not questioning the motives of the BEC board members but rather trying to get them to understand their actions have consequences. You want to be above board in everything and avoid the possibility of false perceptions.
It is common practice that elected officials get perspectives on issues from all sides and not just those from people they know. We're asking nothing less in hiring for the most important position for the county.
What do you think?

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