Published February 6, 2008The drama over Carmen Conglose's application for the part-time traffic coordinator position is officially played out. Mr. Conglose, who retired from city work on December 31 and is employed for ES&C International and collecting a $60,000 annual pension from the city, has repeatedly expressed his offense at not being ceremoniously escorted into the position. He's so affronted, he might not even take the job if it were offered to him. Here are three reasons the city should see to it he's spared the indignity of that scene.
1. I understand Mr. Conglose has selflessly performed the tasks of traffic coordinator for no additional pay under his current job. He believes that's part of what entitles him to special consideration for the post. That's very noble of him, but is he any good? Exhibit A: Northbound Fifth Avenue, from Federal Street to 422. Here's your challenge: observe the twenty-five mile-per-hour speed limit and make your way up Fifth Avenue, and count how many green lights you can manage. I'll be shocked if you get three. It's not unlikely you'll hit every red light except maybe one. Sure, you can gun it at the last second and escape one or two more, but driving safely that stretch of road is a waste of time, energy, and clean air.
2. In the city's current financial state, both with respect to its own coffers and that of its citizens' private accounts, this is still a cloudy season. Mr. Conglose has done some fancy figuring to show how, by serving as buildings commissioner or traffic coordinator without pay, while deputy director of public works he has saved the city some $3 million in salary that would have been spent on these positions. Surely the citizens are grateful for his ingenuity and dedication, but great acts of civil service are recognized by plaques, by getting read into the congressional record, by keys to the city. Alas, these are the rewards of the public purse, as Mr. Conglose should know at the sunset of his career in public service. Mr. Conglose is getting his pension in return for his contributions to the city, he is not owed another job.
3. Public government, at all levels, should be a meritocracy. Paid for with the people's money and run by elected officials, it should strive to be above reproach. I believe the Mayor has his head on straight and has his heart in the right place. I know that managing people is a challenging task and nowhere more so than in such a public post as in a mayorship, where you have to speak out for and against things from time to time to smooth disagreements and soothe egos. However, I think Mayor Williams should have held his tongue on this one, reassured Mr. Conglose in private that he would look out for his interests as best he could and ensured that the public saw him looking out for theirs in all respects.
Youngstown has had its day where favors were handed out to those who were highest on the buddy list in city hall. It is time to move beyond the old system to a new one where all may come and apply with resume in hand to show themselves as the best credentialed workers ready to serve the public. If Mr. Conglose was ready to stand in line with the rest and take his shot, then he should have an equal chance with the rest. But he wasn't, and he isn't; so he shouldn't.