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Wilder Wants Employees "Declassified"

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Just in time for Christmas, Mayor L. Douglas Wilder proposes making City Hall employees more disposable.

Wilder is asking City Council to empower his administration to declassify about 1,100 full-time employees, mostly those in supervisory positions.

The move would change the legal status of those workers from "classified" to "unclassified," giving the city "greater flexibility in hiring and greater levels of accountability and possibility for compensation for employees," according to a memo from Tim Billups, interim director of human resources.

In other words, make it easier to fire people. Classified employees are protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act and the city's own civil and personnel rules. These make the firing process more difficult.

"In order to meet the demands of citizens, the City's workforce must be accountable, responsible and performance driven," Billups writes. "The current culture does not reinforce these behaviors."

Consider it an early Christmas gift from Wilder. The proposed ordinance change was scheduled for a public hearing Dec. 11, after Style went to press. Council President G. Manoli Loupassi, however, says he wants more information from City Hall before he's willing to consider making such a change.

Loupassi points out that the city's political structure, a "professional bureaucracy," was created so that certain positions at City Hall were "not subject to political whim."

City officials recognize there are some departments where declassification might hurt recruitment efforts, such as the police and fire departments. "There's a good reason for that," Loupassi says. "You don't want to politicize these positions — it can lead to a lot of problems." S

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