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Strong vs. Weak Chief

18412 Views 15 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  BLUE BLOOD
Mass has the unusual system of "strong" chiefs (41/97) and "weak" chiefs" (41/97A). Yet I am having a heck of a time finding a resource that clearly defines the difference. Does anyone know of one? Thanks!
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Term limits are set for both at a max of <3 years unless the department covered under the rules as found in chapter 31 (civil service)

I think th e REAL difference is that in one situation if the chief makes a up a department rule, those rules automatically go into effect after 30 days, if no selectmen have input.
In the other instance the rules ONLY go into effect after input from the selectmen.

Now to that end wouldn't a civil service position be a "strong" position and any department that isn't civil service be a weak department...and then falling under that non civil service departments there would be the strong and weak departments?

I would liken this to a "strong" or "weak" mayor / town manager type of situation. One requires approval for every little thing, one can set certain direction of a given department.

LenS";p="52911 said:
Since my first chief was a "strong chief" and our current chief is a "weak chief", I'll give a shot at defining what I know about it from a practical viewpoint. My first chief was a close personal friend, so he was the source of some of this practical info.

Strong Chief:
- Once appointed, in effect the appointment is for life. He has total control of the department and can only be removed for a very short list of egregious acts (e.g. felony convictions, etc.).

Weak Chief:
- Is appointed to a set term of office (per MGL can't be >3 years, but often times if the boss loves him, they ignore the law) and must get his contract renewed on a regular basis to keep the job. Reports to Selectmen or Town/City Manager/Administrator. He can be removed from his position for just about any reason that they can think of (just like in a regular job outside of gov't, aka "employee at will")! Generally it is easy to spot a Weak Chief due to propensity in having a brown nose, frequently seen following 10 steps behind their boss at any public meeting/function. and they are usually "unavailable" as they are always either on the phone with their boss or sitting in their boss' office meeting to discuss every little detail of running the department.

Needless to say, towns/cities really hate having a Strong Chief, as they lose the ability to micro-manage that person and department.
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