UPDATED: Is a Syracuse City employee trying to circumvent the City Council?!

I just sent the following to the Syracuse City Mayor and City Council:

Please forgive me, but I’m a little confused. While visiting our City website today I came across a job posting: Planner 1 – Economic Development.

The job requirements include a provision that says “Update and promote City events and other noteworthy information through the use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and similar media”… That sounded a bit out of place for a “planner”… and also a bit familiar, so I started doing some research.

In November 2011, when the previous City Council was in place, we had a resolution that would have opened a few new positions: City Lawyer, Engineer, and a “Marketing and Communications” position, with an emphasis on Internet related activities. After much discussion, that council passed the resolution — but only with the “Marketing and Communications” position REMOVED.

From what I can tell, the job posting currently on the City’s site for a “Planner” is almost IDENTICAL to the responsibilities of the “Marketing and Communications Specialist” that was REJECTED by the former City Council.

I’d love to go back and refer to the Minutes from this meeting… but for some reason those minutes seem to be missing from our website. I tried to fall back to the Ustream video, but the video for that session isn’t online either. (see my notes below)

While I’m not trying to imply that some conspiracy is being carried out by anyone in the City, but the fact that the minutes and video for this session are “missing” could be interpreted as “suspicious”. Wouldn’t you agree?

For now, I recommend that the City takes no further action on interviewing or hiring for this position until this issue has been resolved.

The next steps I’d like to see taken would be tracking down who was responsible for requesting that this position (with these responsibilities) be posted, and find out if there was any intent to disregard the will of the City Council in refusing this position.

If so, what disciplinary action would be appropriate for the person or persons involved?

I would like action on the first item (halting consideration to fill the position) taken immediately, and the following two items addressed at the next Public Meeting of the Council.

I look forward to your thoughts by email.

– Joe Levi

If you feel the same way, could you please:
  1. Contact the Mayor and Council ( http://syracuseut.com/YourGovernment/ContactMayorandCityCouncil.aspx ) and simply say “Subject: Planner 1 – Economic Development position; Body: Mayor, Council, It appears as if someone is trying to “pull a fast one” on you! A position that the Council rejected in November is now posted on our website under a new name. Please remove this position and add an agenda item to the next City Council meeting to discuss who posted a job that the City Council rejected, and what the disciplinary actions are appropriate to be taken against the person or persons involved.”
  2. Send this to everyone that you think would be interested in finding out who is trying to circumvent our Elected Officials — and do it quickly! We’ve got to get this issue “on the radar” before the position closes!

UPDATE March 5th, 2012, 11am:

Cassie, our City’s Recorder, contacted me this morning, after having been contacted by other residents, called me to discuss the minutes and Ustream video points I mentioned in my meeting.

She says the minutes are still being working on, and she hopes to have them ready to be approved by the next City Council meeting (March 13th, 2012).

The Ustream video is online, it’s just titled incorrectly. Here is the link to the video: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/18546027. I’ve seen the video before (and inserted comments as well), I just missed it this time around. As such, I have stricken the video portion of my letter, above, and added a note to this update.

I’d like to thank those who have contacted the City. Furthermore, I’d like to thank Cassie Brown for taking time to contact me and help make this document more correct, and add additional information to this issue.

If you’d like to listen to the debate on the Ustream video, the discussion of this position starts at 58:00 and ghe call for a vote is 1:04:00. Councilman Shingleton’s motion to approve the resolution including the Bailiff, but excluding the Marketing Specialist passed 3-2, which is why we do not have a “Marketing Specialist” position in the City’s wage scale.

In short, 3 of our elected officials said the People of the City don’t need a Marketing Specialist, and voted against it. Someone in the City apparently thinks otherwise and is trying to fill that position under another title. The job duties for the two are identical. Unfortunately, the only conclusion I can draw is that someone is trying to circumvent the will of the City Council (our elected representatives) and fill this position using a round-about way. It’s not ethical. It’s not right. It goes against the will of the People.

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