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Thursday, December 4, 2003
By Adam Groff
Staff Writer

HAVERHILL -- Mayor John J. Guerin Jr. announced yesterday he will join the state Civil Service Commission after he leaves office in January.

In a letter dated Nov. 26, Gov. Mitt Romney appointed Guerin to the five-member commission effective Jan. 19, for a term that expires in March 2008. Terms on the commission are five years, and Guerin will be filling a seat that came open in March of this year, said a Romney spokeswoman.

Guerin's annual salary will be $70,000, $10,000 more than his mayoral salary.

The state's Human Resources Division administers the civil service merit system, which governs eligibility requirements for the hiring and promotion of state and municipal employees. The Civil Service Commission, according to the state's Web site, is a quasi-judicial agency that rules on human resources actions that may violate the merit principles outlined in state law.

Guerin hinted last month that his next job may be "kind of ironic" -- a reference to Guerin's own civil service decisions were challenged this fall, when he approved the promotion of a firefighter living in Hampstead, N.H., in violation of the state residency law for public safety officers.

When Firefighter Paul Weinburgh called attention to the Hampstead residence of Firefighter Richard Beaudoin, Guerin ordered all nonresident police officers and firefighters to move to the city within nine months.

But at the same time, the mayor went forward with the promotion of Beaudoin to fire lieutenant, contending he was only following past practice, which has often been to overlook out-of-state residency. Guerin and Personnel Director Mary Carrington said the Human Resources Division has in the past approved promotions of police or firefighters with New Hampshire addresses.

This time, however, in the wake of Weinburgh's repeated protests, the state held up Beaudoin's promotion in a letter last month, on grounds of his nonresidency. Guerin said since then, Beaudoin has set up residence in the city and his promotion paperwork is being resubmitted.

The addresses of police and firefighters are not public information, but the city clerk's office confirmed yesterday that Beaudoin has registered to vote in the city.

Guerin said despite the initial rejection of Beaudoin's promotion, the Human Resources Division has supported his actions to address the residency situation.

"We've worked well together through all this," said Guerin. "All these things added up to the (Romney) administration seeing a mayor dealing with civil service issues as fairly as possible."

In his letter of appointment, Romney wrote to Guerin, "Your experience in dealing with the wide variety of complex challenges within the civil service system on a city level will serve the commission well."

Guerin's experience is also a formal job qualification: Revisions passed just this year to the Civil Service Commission statute stipulate that two of the five commission members must have "prior experience serving as a town administrator, city manager, selectman or city councilor."

The other four commissioners -- appointed before those revisions were passed -- are Daniel J. Harrington, a former police officer and chief of the state Capitol Police Department; Daniel J. O'Neil, a former corrections officer and president of the statewide corrections officers union; Robert E. Tierney, a lawyer and former magistrate; and Daniel M. Henderson, a lawyer.

Guerin said he was also appointed to the commission because he shares the Romney administration's belief that the civil service system is in need of major overhaul -- beyond the residency requirement, which is supported by state unions and has survived several legislative efforts to remove it.

"They've known since the beginning of the administration that I share their thoughts with regard to reform of the civil service system," said Guerin. "I've made it clear that it works well with public safety, and that's about it."

Guerin said the presence of both civil service and non-civil service employees in City Hall caused friction during last summer's layoffs, because non-civil service workers have to be laid off before their civil service colleagues, regardless of who has been on the job longer. He said with the rise of employee unions, many civil service protections have become redundant.

Guerin said he may hear Haverhill cases on the commission, but none that he has had any dealings with as mayor or city councilor. Guerin served as a councilor for eight years before becoming mayor.

Tonight, the mayor will appear at a special joint conference with the City Council to discuss whether to change the city's own residency requirements for public safety officers, which are currently more restrictive than the state's. That meeting begins at 6:30 in the City Council office on the second floor of City Hall.

P.S. Thought this article was interesting. Those who knows Haverhill politics will find this hilarious!
 

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Just another sad episode of our culture going right down the crapper...I agree that Civil Service needs to be reformed, but not at the expense of being a sell-out to myself, my family, or anyone else...disgusting.
 

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And the saga continues....



HAVERHILL -- The next mayor and City Council will have to decide the fate of 12 police officers and eight firefighters currently living outside the city in violation of state and local law.

At a mayor-council conference last night attended by only three city councilors, Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro and Fire Chief John E. Hamel Jr. reported for the first time how many of their officers and firefighters live outside the city.

Eight police officers live in New Hampshire -- six of them homeowners -- while four live in Massachusetts communities outside the city: Groveland, Salisbury, North Andover and North Reading.

Five firefighters live over the state line and five live in-state but outside the city, though two of the latter have lived outside the city since before the city's residency rule took effect in 1982.

Mayor John J. Guerin Jr. gave all nonresident public safety workers until June to relocate to the city after the recent flap over his promotion of a firefighter living in New Hampshire.

Prior to that dispute, it had been common practice in Haverhill to overlook state residency requirements.

"The eyes of the commonwealth are on Haverhill to see how we do," said Guerin, who was recently appointed to a five-year term on the Civil Service Commission after he leaves office next month.

"Whatever the next administration comes up with, that's going to be the model for the commonwealth."

Some nonresident public safety officers would not have to move if City Council did away with the ordinance requiring police and firefighters to live in the city.

But any change to city ordinance will have no impact on state law, which requires police and firefighters to live in the state.

City Councilor Louis T. Fossarelli noted the city could apply to the Legislature for a home-rule petition allowing it to waive the in-state residency requirement, but statewide police and fire union support for the law makes that option a long shot.

Chances are, said Fossarelli, "if you live in New Hampshire, you better call a Realtor."

The case that brought the residency issue to the fore involves Guerin's promotion of Firefighter Richard Beaudoin to lieutenant. At the time, Beaudoin lived with his family in Hampstead, N.H. He still owns his home there, but Hamel has said that he swtiched his residency to the city.

Aside from sparing nonresident police and firefighters the hardship of selling their homes and moving, Fossarelli said, relaxing the residency rules has advantages for the city. Without the residency rule, the city would have better chances of hiring experienced police and firefighters who have been laid off in neighboring communities.

"We could fill vacant positions right away, with no training necessary," said Fossarelli. "But we can't now, because those officers would have to live here."

But firefighters have more of a need to live close to the city, because they can be called to major emergencies when they are off-duty. A key issue the next mayor and council will have to address is how to define residency and how to monitor it.

"If my brother owns a home in Haverhill, and I get all my bills sent there and I quick-deed my house in New Hampshire to my wife, am I in violation?" asked DeNaro. "If I go to Disney for a month, am I in violation?"

"I have the same problem," said Hamel. "I have a younger guy who lives in Haverhill, but his girlfriend lives in New Hampshire and he spends quite a bit of time there."

City Solicitor Michael J. Hart, who will take a seat on the council next month, said most of the case law surrounding residency defines it as where a person lives for the greater part of the year -- opening the possibility of a firefighter living for five months out of the year at a beach house in Hampton, N.H.

Councilor-elect David Hall, a retired Haverhill police sergeant who attended last night's meeting along with Councilor-elect Robert Scatamacchia, said before he casts any votes on the issue as councilor, he will want a clear indication of where the police and fire union memberships stand on the issue.

"I think at the very least, we should move to get rid of the city ordinance," said patrolmen's union president Stephen Iannalfo, some of whose members want the option of living outside the city for their families' safety.

Iannalfo also urged the council to move quickly to resolve the issue, because his nonresident members are in limbo, not knowing for sure whether they have to sell their homes.

"It's got to be done in January," said Fossarelli.

Also at the meeting were Councilors Mary Ellen Daly O'Brien and Robert E. Des Marais, firefighters union president George Sarrette and Personnel Director Mary Carrington. Council Vice President and Mayor-elect James J. Fiorentini did not attend.


....and the Civil Service can't even administer an exam without problems!
 

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To those that are more up on labor law. What do you think about the patrolmen and firefighters winning this case due to past practice? I don't really know much about it, but I know our union has won some rulings because even though something violated written policy, it had been accepted by the administration for a long period of time.
 
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