We saw bureaucracy at work in this Matier and Ross report yesterday.
The basic story is:
1) Mayor sees a filthy public park.
2) Mayor tells Park and Rec to fire the gardener assigned to that park.
3) Park and Rec tells Mayor the gardener can’t be fired.
4) Park and Rec tells Mayor many reasons why parks can’t be better maintained
5) Other public official expresses frustration.
6) Mayor asks for funky workaround to address the park the Mayor complained about.
7) Nothing more will be done.
The most pathetic part of the story is Mayor Newsom’s delusion that he could get a city gardener fired.
The other pathetic aspect of this story is that nothing will be done.
Getting a civil service department to perform effectively is not easy. All levels of employees need leadership from above. Civil service selects against people with leadership skills.
It’s easy to pass bullshit nanny laws. It’s not easy to reform a city department.
Managing bureaucracies is like disciplining strong-willed toddlers. It’s difficult but necessary. Failure to do so results in disaster.
Bureaucratic response is pathetically predictable: lack of resources, restrictive regulations, unrealistic expectations.
Rec and Park officials say they're scrambling to come up with a solution, but that they keep hitting a wall of bureaucratic regulations.
They wanted to hire a couple of extra workers to staff the park in the late afternoon and evenings. But under city rules, hiring the workers meant hiring a supervisor as well, which they can't afford.
As for the maintenance worker the mayor may or may not have wanted fired, the department says it has no grounds to get rid of him. And even if his bosses did want to can him, the city's complicated disciplinary process would make it unlikely. (Not to mention that the custodian was on his regular day off when Newsom showed up, according to a co-worker.)
Without such criteria, the Mayor continues to flail in the dark. Creating such criteria is basic to any manager’s job. Gavin really deserves the title, Boy Mayor.