City of Somerville
Massachusetts

Agenda Item
205083
Kept in Committee
May 6, 2019 6:00 PM

That this Board’s Committee on Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters develop a comprehensive procedure manual regarding review processes for all categories of appointments and re-appointments.

Information

Department:City CouncilSponsors:Ward Two City Councilor Jefferson Thomas ("J.T.") Scott, j and the Entire Board
Category:OrderPurposes:Order

Attachments

  1. CAPM Procedure Manual v0.1

Official Text

That this Board’s Committee on Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters develop a comprehensive procedure manual regarding review processes for all categories of appointments and re-appointments.

 

Meeting History

Feb 8, 2018 7:00 PM Video City Council Regular Meeting

Alderman Scott stated that as a new Alderman, he would like to have a procedure manual developed for Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters, developing standards and making it easier for Aldermen in the future.

RESULT:APPROVED
Feb 20, 2018 6:00 PM  Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters Committee Committee Meeting

There are currently 70 items before the Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters Committee awaiting disposition, some of which are time sensitive. Members were informed that the mayor has appointed an Advisory Committee to work on appointments. Members discussed how to build a comprehensive procedure to provide clear understanding and to set expectations on what the role is for the aldermen. There is a need to take a more thorough approach when reviewing and acting on appointments.

Alderman Davis voiced his concerns over the previous process for appointments and said that information, such as resumes and job descriptions, should be provided to the aldermen well in advance of the committee meeting. Aldermen should know what has already been asked of the applicants. Alderman Mbah commented that there are many loop holes in the current process that really limit the power of the aldermen.

There were questions about the process for civil service promotions and a question regarding a process for challenging appointments. The committee also discussed having its own legal counsel for committee meetings.

A motion, that Law Department advise the committee on the legal requirements and/or standards that may exist for appointments or re-appointments and whether those standards differ depending on the appointed position, was approved.

A motion, that in support of the review of each candidate for confirmation, the Administration provide to the committee, all documentation it considered during the appointment process, including without limitation, the application package, any background and record investigations, and any similar materials, and in the case of selection from a “reserve list”, any updated information since the time of appointment to the “reserve list”, was approved.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Mar 7, 2018 6:00 PM  Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters Committee Committee Meeting
RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Apr 12, 2018 5:30 PM Video Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters Committee Committee Meeting
RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Apr 18, 2018 6:00 PM Video Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters Committee Committee Meeting

A brief recap of prior discussions of this item was given. The committee reviewed a list of commissions and boards whose members might need to appear before the committee for confirmation, discussed creating categories of decision authority, e.g., for new appointments vs. re-appointments. To date, the city does not have a manual or procedure for confirming appointments, therefore, Chairman Scott and one other committee member will draft a manual to share with the rest of committee for their feedback. The draft will be ready for review before the next Confirmation of Appointments committee meeting.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
May 9, 2018 5:30 PM Video Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters Committee Committee Meeting

A draft procedure manual was distributed to the full Board of Aldermen, previously for tonight’s meeting. The committee reviewed the confirmation process for a variety of categories as well as the types of materials/documents that would be required from the Administration for appointments, e.g., complaints from the public, financial interest forms, sexual harassment data, and any history of domestic violence.

The guidelines set by the committee will be used to set expectations for the applicants, provide consistency of questions, and provide a uniformity of requirements for current and future committee members. It was suggested that the City Solicitor provide feedback on the manual and whether the committee would be bound by law on the questions. The committee discussed the fairness of the process and legal opinions. The Mayor’s office, along with the City Solicitor and Personnel, are working on providing a full written response on the document before the end of the month.

There were concerns of misuse of the information and it was discussed that there may be some issues of providing documents in executive session. Executive session minutes can be public records; however, there are some minutes that may be sealed permanently. CORI information is protected. It was noted that the Chair of the Committee generally will not know the person being considered for appointment, so a staff member usually attends the meeting to provide some background information. There are still a number of appointments to be reviewed by the committee, including an appointment to the Licensing Commission, that needs to be completed before June 1st.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
Jun 5, 2018 6:00 PM Video Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters Committee Committee Meeting

Ms. Connor told the committee that there is a state law and requirement from the Public Employee Retirement Administration Commission (PERAC) which dictates that members of commissions and boards who are paid a salary over $5,000 yearly must receive benefits. It was noted that there are many city employees who work less than 19 hours a week who do not receive benefits, with the exception of the aldermen.

Alderman Hirsch’s motion that the Administration provide an explanation, including applicable citations of PERAC CMR and MGL, for the accrual of pension or creditable service for Board and Commission members, including an explanation of how these positions are adjudicated differently from part-time city employees who earn more than $5,000 yearly, was approved.

Ms. Connor distributed a document containing feedback from the Mayor’s Office on the committee’s newly drafted confirmation process manual and said that it is a starting point of the city’s response to get a better understanding of what the committee would like to see prior to interviewing or reviewing candidates. The committee continued its previous discussion of Statements of Financial Interest, asking it they could be required and expanded to other positions on Board and Commissions. Members also questioned what types of documents may be reviewed by the committee and if the documents might differ depending upon the position.

The committee discussed the positions of Special Police Officers and was informed that those individuals are retired police officers who, by a special act of the legislature, are appointed and perform limited duties, e.g., working a police detail. Special Police Officers are armed and have the same authority as regular police officers. The committee discussed professional standards files which pertains to fire fighters and was told that no responsive records exist for this request with regards to Fire Department promotions or any other city position. Asked if the city could look into setting up such a file for fire fighters, the committee was told that it would need to be a collective bargaining issue.

Chairman Scott spoke about a fire incident report that was very detailed to the point of the time, number of trucks and number of people involved in the fire. This point was raised to question why the city does not have response records for staff in certain positions. Additionally, questions were raised about having two separate protocols for police personnel, i.e., the city’s Personnel Office vs. the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit. Questions were also asked about the Ethics Commission’s review of various records and how that information is shared with the Mayor and/or the Personnel Department.

There was a discussion about complaint histories and the effects they might have on the working environment and it was suggested that documents could be redacted prior to providing them to the committee.

Alderman Davis’s motion that the City Solicitor provide an opinion on whether the content, or some subset of the content, of an individual’s personnel file may be reviewed by the Committee on Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters during their deliberations when considering appointments, was approved.

Asked if the committee could have access to the same information as the mayor when considering appointments, Mr. Wright stated that the mayor is the appointing authority and the committee is the confirming authority.

With regard to prior discussions about the Board of Aldermen having its own attorney, Mr. Wright informed the committee that according to the city charter, the BOA may not have its own attorney, adding that the City Solicitor works for the city and that include the mayor and the BOA. The next meeting of the committee may be scheduled for July.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE
May 6, 2019 6:00 PM Video Confirmation of Appointments and Personnel Matters Committee Committee Meeting

The chair discussed revising the manual based upon the discussion last year with the legal department. It was stated there is very little oversight on constable applications since they are received by the city clerk. There were discussions about whether there is a need to meet with constables every 2 years. It was suggested to maybe stagger the applications since applications are due in December. However, it was stated that constables cannot work until they are appointed by the Committee of Appointments and Personnel Matters. A question was asked if the city clerk could handle tracking the constables and the applications. Appointing every two years would align with new mayors and city councilors coming in during that time. The chair will check with the city clerk on how to proceed with this item.

RESULT:KEPT IN COMMITTEE