The Schenectady City Council members who were critical of a back-door proposal to hire a new building department clerk, then voted in favor of it, ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Their sensibilities were properly offended by the approach to the hiring taken by Building Inspector Eric Shilling: So impressed was he by the as-yet-unnamed woman who ran the code enforcement training program he recently attended that he offered her a job on the spot to run the department’s front counter.
Maybe that’s the way it gets done in the private sector, but it’s a little different in government: A position like that should either be posted (if it’s civil service); or if it’s a contract position, it should be competitively bid. In this case, Shilling liked the woman enough to offer her $20 an hour for what seems, at best, a glorified clerical position, with a promise to raise her salary to $25 an hour next year. For those who don’t feel like doing the math, that works out to full-time equivalents of $41,000 and $52,000, respectively — which seems like a lot of money considering the city’s financial plight. Who cares how talented the woman is or how badly Shilling needs someone familiar with code enforcement to run his counter? He can find someone to do it more cheaply.
Granted, he’s still relatively new to his job, but in a situation like this, isn’t it up to the mayor and council to rein him in? And why bother criticizing him if you’re still going to give in to him, as council members excepting Barbara Blanchard and Vince Riggi ultimately did by approving the appointment?