News from Patrick Flynn

Hiring thaw?

As an Assembly member I receive quite a few e-mails that may, or may not, be relevant to the job.  One group that tends to fall into the latter category includes announcement of various city job openings.  Those dropped off considerably after July 1, when Mayor Sullivan announced a hiring freeze during his inaugural speech.

Good-government types don’t care much for hiring freezes and consider them a clumsy mechanism for controlling spending that can negatively impact government functionality.  Here’s an example from an e-mail I received last week:

Just wanted you to know what is really happening with the hiring freeze:

DHHS does not have a billing clerk/cashier. I had an expensive immunization in early June and when I called in mid July to find why I hadn’t been billed (there was no one at the cashier’s desk when I left at 5 pm the day of the immunization),  I was told they don’t have a billing person due to the hiring freeze! They must have someone doing the billing but at that point they were at least 6 wks behind. They have other problems with billing from what I can tell from an incident a yr before. Maybe they don’t need the money?

At the Tudor building where most permit and inspection services are funded by fees–with time limits placed on processing/approval, there is at least one dept with an unfilled position that has resulted in a backlog. I was told the stack in the tray on the table held about 35 permits worth about $600+ each and they’d been there a week, which is near the time limit for approval.  So the hiring freeze keeps them from doing their job and fulfilling MOA conditions for timely response to developers or whomever.

Meanwhile, a common characteristic of hiring freezes is the “waiver,” which allows hiring to take place despite the freeze.  I know of at least two granted thus far as I received the standard e-mail about an opening for a Police Chief following Rob Huen’s resignation and an e-mail from Julie Saupe to the ACVB board of directors:

I had a good meeting with Mayor Sullivan last week. Topics included status updates on 2009 and 2010 and a review of cost-cutting measures to date and reallocation of ACVB resources to short-term business; the need to extend our facilities management contract so that ACVB can enter into a long term contract with an operator in 2010; expectations of the 2010 legislative session with regards to tourism issues; and the August 20 tourism summit.  He also shared information on his hopes that our visitor product offerings in Anchorage are expanded to include amenities in the Chugach and other improvements throughout the city.

Mayor Sullivan also provided the good news that the Mayor’s representative to the ACVB board will be a familiar face: Stacy Schubert. Welcome back, Stacy!

Many readers may recall Ms. Schubert as the very talented former President of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce.  Having worked with her in that capacity I was very pleased to learn of her joining the administration as, according to a subsequent e-mail, Intergovernmental Affairs Director for the Municipality.  I don’t recall such a position at the city, at least in recent years, and I’m looking forward to meeting with Stacy soon to learn more about her role.  (I do have some experience with IGA, but that’s a long aside from long ago so we’ll skip the topic for now.)  All that aside, my larger point is that hiring freezes tend to be somewhat ephemeral.  We’ll see how this one continues to develop.



P.S. In case you’re wondering, I’ll listen to the discussion Tuesday but I am not particularly inclined to support the idea of a task force to study equal rights for gays and lesbians.  While I appreciate the desire to seek common ground my impression is that at least some Anchorage residents will never support any measure that confers equal rights to our gay neighbors.  Better for us to vote, preferably on my new version, and move on.

This contribution was made on Saturday, 08. August 2009 at 13:00 and was published under the category Coming events, Other. You can follow comments on this entry through the RSS-Feed.

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1 Comment

  1. I suppose I should not put this on the blog, but I am anyway. The waiver process is a grand idea. PM&E have three clerical positions available to suppose all of the PM&E staff. One position is currently filled. They day that the hiring freeze was implemented the supervisor asked ER to call the person she selected for the position. The response was that they couldn’t offer the job because of the new hiring freeze. So the supervisor went through the waiver process. The response was that they could hire the position as a temporary hire (6 months). Basically, the successful candidate would not receive benefits for taking the job. I am only saying all of this because…The job in questions is a bond funded position and is not funded under the tax base. It is funded under the bonds. So during a busy season, there is literally no one to answer the phones at the front desk.

    I found that through the cuts that the City has taken they do not seem to cut the management, but the lower level workerbees. I’ve said this all along… They can cut some management positions and probably not affect services.

    The Building Department lost 4 permit clerks earlier this year. This is why the permit requests sit in the box for a week. This is why the phone calls are not answered timely. However, the revenue at Building Safety dropped and they had to cut positions due to lack of revenue.

    The waiver process may not be working. But…the jury is still out.

    It is a shame that the cashier/billing clerk cannot be hired at DHHS.

    Comment: Jillanne – 17. August 2009 @ 7:22 pm

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