Transparency Around Hiring and New Positions Aimed at
Fighting Nepotism and Patronage in City Government
New York, NY – Appointments for positions that have never been advertised to the public are being targeted for reform by Council Member Ben Kallos. The proposed legislation would force the city government to publicly post any new position or vacancy for at least 14 days before conducting interviews.
Section 2604(b) (3) of the New York City Charter prohibits City employees from attempting to use their positions to obtain financial gain, privilege, or personal advantage for themselves or for people or firms with whom they are associated and cannot influence the hiring of close relatives or relations. Due to a lack of transparency in hiring practices, unposted jobs in agencies like the Board of Elections enable backroom deals to hire family members or associates of powerful actors in or dealing with city government.
An October 2020 New York Times article that describes the Board of Elections as “one of the last vestiges of pure patronage in government” highlights just a few of these relationships:
- The official who oversees voter registration in New York City is the 80-year-old mother of a former congressman.
- The director of Election Day operations is a close friend of Manhattan’s Republican chairwoman.
- The head of ballot management is the son of a former Brooklyn Democratic district leader.
- The administrative manager is the wife of a City Council member.
Controversial examples of hiring without public posting include:
- The title of “Operations Manager” with a salary of $125,000 was created by Commissioners with a person appointed to the title at the same board meeting without prior public advertisement, according to the Daily News.
- The sister of a Commissioner of the Board of Elections was hired on the same day her resume was submitted to other commissioners who then voted for the sister to be hired without prior public advertisement, leading to a fine for the Commissioner of $5,500 by the Conflict of Interest Board, according to the Daily News.
“We can’t be a city that makes it easy for a Mayor to hire their wife, for a Commissioner to score their nephew a plum position, or a developer to ask a favor to get a job for a daughter or friend” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations with oversight of the Board of Elections.“Publicly posting every job in government will add the necessary transparency to make it easier to identify patronage and nepotism.”
Text of Legislation:
By Council Members Kallos and Gentile
A LOCAL LAW
To amend the New York city charter, in relation to requiring all job vacancies at city agencies to be posted online
Be it enacted by the Council as follows:
Section I. Paragraphs (19) and (20) of subdivision a of section 815 of chapter 35 of the
New York city charter are amended to read as follows:
(19) To establish measures and programs to ensure a fair and effective affirmative employment plan to provide equal employment opportunity for minority group members and women who are employed by, or who seek employment with, the agency and, in accordance with the uniform procedures and standards established by the department of citywide administrative services for this purpose, to adopt and implement an annual plan to accomplish this objective. Copies of such plans shall be filed with the mayor, council, department of citywide administrative services, equal employment practices commission, and city civil service commission and shall be made available for reasonable public inspection; [and]
(20) To provide assistance to minority group members and women interested in being employed by city agencies to ensure that such minority group members and women benefit, to the maximum extent possible, from city employment and educational assistance programs[.]; and
§ 2. Subdivision a of section 815 of chapter 35 of the New York city charter is amended
IS by adding a new paragraph (21) to read as follows:
(21) To post all vacant positions 14 days before the first interview, except for those filled using eligible lists pursuant to the civil service law, on a publicly accessible website, the city record, open data portal or all three.
§ 3. This local law takes effect immediately.