The members of Napa’s Civil Service Commission butted heads last week over the qualifications of former City Councilmember Jim Krider to fill a soon-to-be-vacant position on their board.

Ultimately, they put off the decision after the four voting members reached an impasse. The commission’s two City Council appointees, John Salmon and Paul Hicks, favored Krider, while the two commissioners appointed by city employees, Bill Jabin and Linda Cantillon, did not.

During the Monday meeting, the commission tried to fill the seat of outgoing commissioner Kathy Merritt, a so-called “neutral” member picked by council and employee factions. Her term expires at the end of the month.

After advertising the vacancy, the city received only one application —  Krider’s.

The four commissioners were split on whether to appoint Krider or re-advertise the upcoming vacancy at the request of Alex Pader, a candidate in November’s City Council election.

Merritt was not permitted to discuss who will fill her role, so the vote came down to two in favor of Krider and two in favor of re-advertising the vacancy.

Cantillon said Krider has superb experience, but said, “I see you as more of a fit for a City Council-appointed Civil Service commissioner.”

Jabin, the commission’s chairman, initially despaired of the commission being able to break the 2-2 tie. Then Pader suggested that Merritt join the commission for a special meeting next week on how to resolve the  stalemate.

The meeting is tentatively scheduled for noon Thursday, just before Merritt’s term is to expire. Because the discussion will center on the process of filling the position rather than the person who will be appointed, Merritt will be able to participate.

The commission could take action to re-advertise the vacancy, at which point anyone, including Krider, Pader or even Merritt, could apply.

The commission handles issues related to the city’s Civil Service system. The members provide recommendations to the council regarding salaries, job classifications and related issues.

Krider served on the City Council from 2005 to 2012, then lost his re-election bid.

“I know that this is a pretty important commission, and I wanted to continue service to the city,” Krider said. “I enjoyed the time I was on the council, Planning Commission, you name it. Every one of them was a rewarding experience, and I think this is an important and potentially rewarding commission to be on.”

Prior to his terms on the council, Krider was a longtime member of the city’s Planning Commission and served on enough boards to nearly fill an 8.5-by-11-inch sheet of paper, according to Salmon, who read Krider’s experience aloud.  

“I, having gone through those qualifications, believe that you’re fully qualified to be a commissioner on this commission,” Salmon said, adding that Krider has “wonderful experience and ability to apply laws objectively.”

Jabin saw things differently, referencing Krider’s eight years on the council as a detriment to his application.

“I don’t see where you can be fair and impartial,” Jabin said. “This position is often referred to as the neutral position. I’m very concerned, as well intentioned as you might be, your history is that you will side more with the City Council than with the issues before you.”

Jabin, who immediately called for a vote after his comments, has butted heads with the city and council over the years, most recently accusing officials of trying to undermine the Civil Service system that was enacted by city voters in the 1960s. He has been critical of the city’s creation in 2010 of a Human Resources Department, which Krider supported, saying it takes all authority away from the personnel director, who answers to the commission.

Pader said he was interested in the vacancy but did not apply because he did not know there was an opening.

The position was not adequately advertised, he said. “Allow the public to have full participation in this process,” he said.

City Attorney Michael Barrett said the city did initiate a recruitment process, which included public notices. Among other measures, the vacancy was posted on the city’s website for May, fliers were posted throughout the city and media releases were issued, according to the city clerk’s office.  

An agenda for the upcoming meeting will be published on the city’s website before Thursday.

(24) comments

Old Time Napkin
Old Time Napkin

rocketman, you are correct about the "good old boy" system. It also involved a city manager who had total control over every aspect of the personnel system from hiring, promotions and disciplinary actions against employees. Many city employees put their careers on the line to bring about a charter amendment that created a fair and equitable personnel system. This sis a very unique system and I am surprised that more employees have not complained about the current city manager trying to bypass this system. I think that many new employees have no idea how and why this system was developed. Those that do not study history are bound to repeat it.

Old Time Napkin
Old Time Napkin

Neither Wichard or Pader would be neutral. Both have been very involved in union activities. If I was looking for a neutral person on a commission neither would get my vote.

rocketman
rocketman

............so if I understand you correctly OTN, contrary to napablogger, kevin, abouttime and Wineandfood, it may be much tougher for this Commission to select a 5th Commissioner based upon your understanding of the neutrality that the 5th Commissioner is supposed to represent?

napablogger
napablogger

It will be tough to select a neutral person because anyone who is interested in something like this is interested in politics and therefore opinionated in some direction. I still like Krider for this. He deserves extra points for being on top of it enough to apply on time. His experience on the council will tend him toward the middle, that is what happens to everyone who is in those types of positions, reality intrudes on your ideology and people typically balance out.

Old Time Napkin
Old Time Napkin

rocketman, you are correct. Finding a neutral commissioner is not an easy task. Hopefully someone from the business community with no ties to a union or the city council will come forward to serve on this commission. Actually a retired person from the private business world would be an ideal candidate.
napablogger, just for information the Civil Service Commissioners are all volunteers. Also they do not have anything to do with the salaries or benefits of the employees. Salaries and benefits and raises are given out by the city council. If you feel the commission has outlived it's usefulness then you certainly can put forth a ballot initiative to change the city charter. While you are in the process you might take a look at getting rid of binding arbitration which costs the city a lot of money. That issue should have never been approved by the voters.

rocketman
rocketman

..........but before someone proposes a ballot initiative to remove the Personnel System" from the Charter, you better do your research as to why this was put in place initially.

History states that there was a good ol' boy system in place prior to 64 where hiring practices, promotions, and other personnel issues were all in the control of the city manager. There was a lot of turmoil and favoritism. This system has put in place the most equitable process for dealing with personnel issues that can be found anywhere else.

If it is removed, the voters need to decide if they want to gamble on the possible results.

Carol Whichard
Carol Whichard

Mr. Pader is correct. I, too, follow this pretty closely and have seen nothing about this commission opening. I've also applied for this commission and believe my application to be on file. If one needs to re-apply every time there's an opening, one should be made aware of this. A re-do is in order here.

Wineandfood
Wineandfood

And you are neutral on unions? Actually laughed out old at this.

rocketman
rocketman

.......and what you are telling all of us Wineandfood is that you want a Council ringer??
That is what is sounds like....

Alex Pader
Alex Pader

My primary concern with this issue is with public participation and notification. I'm sure that the City of Napa has legally complied with their notification process, but it was not done with the same rigor as the advertising for all of the other City of Napa commissions and boards. I generally rely on the Napa News weekly emails sent out by Barry Martian and the NVR to find out what commissions and boards are open, since they regularly advertise all the other vacancies there. But, it was never posted in those venues. I would welcome it, if anyone could show me where it was advertised other then on the city website. In the end I just want to make sure that the public is well informed and able to participate in the public process and I'm sure that this article has opened that dialogue with the public.

napablogger
napablogger

Krider is as neutral a person as you are going to find. Everyone has some opinion.

Old Time Napkin
Old Time Napkin

Sorry to burst your bubble napablogger, but Mr. Krider sat on the council for several years and appointed commissioners to the Civil, Service Commission that would uphold the council's views. Mr. Krider is a nice man, but is definitely not neutral in this case. I will give the fact that he would be more common sense than Mr. Pader.

Old Time Napkin
Old Time Napkin

It's obvious that several commenters on here have no idea how the Civil, Service Commission came into being or how it operates. As rocketman states, the commission was put into place by the voters of the City of Napa in 1964. There's a long history as to why it went to a vote of the people and it has been explained several times by myself and others who comment here .I also wrote an article in the NVR sometime back explaining the history and role of the Civil Service Commission. Obviously some people need to educate themselves about the city charter and what is mandated by the charter. As to the applicants for the open position on the commission, neither Pader or Krider belong there. That position needs to be filled by a completely neutral party who has "no dog in the fight" when it comes to voting on issues. I am far from being a union person( don't think a fireman should be on the city council either), but the composition of this commission should conform to the city charter.

rocketman
rocketman

I agree OTN that it becomes very frustrating to listen to comments such as napablogger's, kevin's and Wineandfood's when they most of the time have an understanding of the background and issues that they are commenting on. You may agree or disagree with them, but at least they can support their basses for their comments.

In this case, there is a complete misunderstanding or complete lack of knowledge on their part. A simple review of 76.1 of the City Charter (which takes about 15 minutes to read) would enlighten them on how the system is supposed to work.

If the "rules were not followed" as one commenter suggested, the City Attorney who also acts as the legal advisor to the Commission, would have pointed this out to the Commission during their deliberations. The rules were followed.

If Pader does apply and it is believed that he is a "total union guy", I will be surprised if he gets on the Commission, much like the vote went on the first applicant.

napablogger
napablogger

rocketman, thank you for your comments and I stand corrected. I have not read the city charter doc you referenced but I am happy to take your word for it. You are clearly well versed in this issue and obviously I am not.

Having said that, I do believe that Krider is far more neutral than Alex Pader, I know both of them, they are great guys but Krider has shown his moderation over a long time period and since he is the only one who cared enough to find out and apply, I think they ought to appoint him.

I also think that perhaps this whole civil service commission has run its course and perhaps a vote to disband it is in order. The average salary of city employees is over 80K with stellar benefits, they are hardly an oppressed class of worker. Do we need this extra level of management over the unions themselves?

rocketman
rocketman

....and thank you for your comments napablogger..... Despite what people think, the Civil Service Commission has nothing to do with setting salaries for employees. That process in negotiated between the Personnel Dept and City Staff based upon what others are making in similar positions. Again for the bases for salaries. Even that process has to be approved by the Council. The Commission by Charter is mostly tasked with making sure that there is a fair and impartial process in the personnel system for both sides. The Commission oversees discipline IF it gets to an appeal which I understand rarely happens. It's not an extra level of management, it is an oversight committee that actually works for the Council as all other Commissions do.

Your point about Krider vs Pader may be a valid one, but that is for the Commission to decide based upon a process just like you have undertaken. It's not a "done deal" for any applicant. That is why the voters put this system in place.

rocketman
rocketman

..again napablogger, I would highly encourage you to read 76.1 of the City Charter. After doing so, tell me then why you feel that the Civil Service process "may have run it's course". I would be curious for you to point out how it has a negative effect on what the voters wanted in place. Take a look at the policies, goals and objectives of the Personnel System. I think you will be surprised at what the Commission does vs the "perception" of what involvement it has with City business. Look at the "tasks" given to the Commission as the Council's over site committee. Then let us know what you think.

Wineandfood
Wineandfood

This is bs - and Pader is a total union guy. Follow the rules and appoint Krider. Sorry you weren't paying attention Pader, but you missed the deadline.

kevin
kevin

Why would the council have two union "ringers" on it? What are their qualifications?

napablogger
napablogger

Kevin, good question.

rocketman
rocketman

The answer is simple men, because you voted it to be this way.
(Well actually the voters in the 60's voted it this way.) Appointment to the Commission is dictated by City Charter (the rule of the people), There are to be 2 Council appointed and 2 Employee elected Commissioners on the panel. The 4 of them (by mandate) chose the 5th (at large or neutral) Commissioner. The intent is to have a bipartisan make-up of the panel, therefor it is important not to just chose a 5th member who may be qualified, but to chose a 5th member that has no background or connection with the Council or the Unions. What appears to have happened in this vote is that there was a difference of opinion as to where this sole applicant may land in his position on issues. The 4 appointed and elected Commissioners should be tasked with appointing a person that is perceived to be neutral; this is in the best interest of the both sides so that rulings that go forward have a chance of impartiality.

rocketman
rocketman

Here is a question you might ask Kevin based upon your previous remarks......who was one on the appointing Council members who appointed both current sitting Council appointed Commissioners?

Abouttime
Abouttime

Jabin is nothing but a shill for he unions. It's people like Jabin that put cities like Vallejo in bankruptcy. In addition he is a bully. Must of had his training by LAPD during their rally bad years.

Pader is a hopeless lefty who will side withe union every time. Maybe Pader Houle get a real job.

napablogger
napablogger

This stinks of pure politics. Krider is eminently qualified, he followed the rules and applied, appoint him. Trying to change the rules to cut someone out like this is totally wrong and a dereliction of duty on the part of Jabin and Cantillon.

Look, it is a city full of people with varying views and you don't always get your way. You still have to follow the rules.

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