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Council to Consider Ballot Measure Changing Hiring Rules

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By Jorge Casuso

April 24, 2020 -- The City Council on Tuesday will consider placing a measure on the November ballot that would diversity the City's workforce by making it easier to hire minorities and women.

The proposed measure would amend and repeal sections of the City Charter that guide civil service appointments and promotions, according to a staff report to the Council.

The measure would be placed on the November 3 ballot as "a matter of proactive governance, and in light of the national dialogue around policies that perpetuate structural racism and adversely impact women and people of color," staff wrote.

The City "is committed to finding ways to ensure that our policies and practices align with our aspirations of an organization that is diverse, inclusive, responsive, and transparent," according to the staff report.

The proposed measure would eliminate appointment rules in the Charter requiring "vacant positions to be filled using a closed internal promotional recruitment" and "selecting from only the top three highest ranked internal candidates."

This rule benefits "a narrow pool of internal recruitment candidates" and "artificially excludes other qualified candidates from even being considered," staff wrote.

"The limiting nature of the City’s appointment rules does not meet the spirit of the City’s merit principles and has been recognized as a barrier to improving diversity and equity within the City workforce," staff said.

The change would pave the way for the City to discuss with bargaining groups and the community changes that "would allow vacant positions to be filled consistent with modern merit principles and the specific needs of the organization."

Late last year, staff began holding "information sessions" with union representatives and presented the information to the City's Personnel Board, according to the report.

Similar reforms have been undertaken by the cities of San Francisco in 2005, Long Beach in 2010 and Los Angeles in 2011.

"Today, Santa Monica, arguably known as one of the more progressive cities, is ironically an outlier in having its Civil Service policies within its Charter," staff wrote.

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