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The Sham Reform

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Krom Hiirper's Weekly, Tho very able and interesting report of the Exaraining Board of the Treasury, published in tho early spring, states that ono of the chief embarassuents which the Board enoountered was public disbelief of the reality and thoroughness of the reform. Is this inoredulity surprising 'r1 The President forbids political assessments upon subordinates, and issues !.n Executive order virtually reproving the political ofliciousness of officers of the service. But, in total contempt of his orders, they lovy assessnients, deaert their posts of duty, assmno tho management of all party assemblies, and continue to use patronage as a party lever. If these gentlemen wore sure that their use of ollicial power was sternly disapproved, they would hardly be so eager to shout tor Gen. Butler in Massachusetts, or to manage the Convention in New York, or to tako tho Legislature up the river in Louisiana. And while these continue, how can the country believe that there isa real reform, lt will judge, and properly,by conspicuous iustances and by the general conduct and character of the service. The country cannot knnw whether a night inspector in the New York Custom House is or is not appointed - whatever may be assertel - iu accordance with the rules ; but lt can see distinctly whether certain offices in New York are bestowed in accordance with the spirit and purpose of the rules, or in obedience to the old system which tha reform professes to supplant. The public cannot really know whether the clerks in the St. Louis postoffice were or were not appointed as the President directs in the rules; but it does know distinctly that the St. Louis postmaster deliberately did what the rules expressly forbade him to do, and that he retains his office. Tho country cannot know how the clerks in the New Orleans Custom House aio appointed ; but it does know that tho Collector of New Orleans was guilty of a flagrant offeuse, and was subsequently renominted for the position. In the presence of such facts, not isolated, but constantly occurring, it is vain that examinations are announced for certain minor positions. Eulcs and examinations are, indeed, indispensable for the proper regulation of civil service so extensivo as ours. But the spirit is more than the letter, and every man who is truly interested iu this most vital questiou will look even more closely at the discretionary action of the President than at the operation of the rules. And this for the reason that the President's will is the spring of the whole movement, and bis real disposition upon the subject can be seen more plainly in his discrelionary action. We shall all believe that the rules are honestly observed in the minor cases, although we can not watch their operation, if we see that the President in his nouiiuations of the chiof collectors, surveyors, postmasters, and other officers who are not submitted to technical inations, regaras the essontial spint of reform. If, for instance, he promotos a subordinato who is thoroughly competent and suitablo for the superior position, the country has conclusive evidence of his sincority and resolution. But if he disregards the fitness of the subordínate, and appoints over his head an active politioian, however a good officer and man he may be, the country justly concludes that other considerations than those of efficiënt official service have effected the decisión. One such case properly outweighs in the mind a thousand examinations. One such case, indeed, throws suspicion upon every examination. One such case, if it be conspicuous, not only destroys public faith in the reality of the reform, but demoralizes the service itself by showing the officers that promotion, which is one of the three cardinal points of the reformed system, will be confined to the most unimportant grades ; so that its vital valué as an incentive is totally lost. It is very true that the great and longaccumulating abuses of the old system of civil service are not to be reformed at once. But it is equally true that nothing is easier than to show at once the spirit and disposition of reform. If, for instance, the President had promptly accepted the resignation of the Collector of New Orleans ; 11 the postmaster of St. Louis had been removed for the violation of one of the most peremptory of the President's rules, and he had been informed that a plea of ignorance only increased the offense ; if, when it was intimated to the President that his nomiuation for a surveyor for the port of New York would not be confirmed, he had said that, having made a nomination in striot conformity with the spirit and purpose of his rules, he would throw upon the Senate the responsibility of rejeoting it ; if it had not been evident that the chief offices in New York had been filled upon the principie which the spirit of the rules repudiates ; and if the public officers everywhere were busy with their public duties, and not with party management and intrigue - there would be a'profound and universal conviction that great results had been already achieved, and that a thorough reform was intended. That the things we mention, and countless others of the same kind, have not been done, and are not doing, is the reason that this reform is the open gibe of the opposition, and the secret doubt of its frionds in the Republican party. And until these things are done, constantly and consistently done, the work of the commission, faithful, able, and devoted as we know it to be, will be in vain, aid the llepublican party will have no right to claim that it has really reformed the civil service.


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Michigan Argus