Earlier this week I blogged about meeting a "street worker" in Dorchester who had just been hired in the last month. Since we are supposed to be under a 'hiring freeze' I decided to look into this.
After some telephone tag, a budget person who works for the Mayor named Meredith cleared up the discrepancy. She let me know that the "hiring freeze" was really just a "hiring slowdown". She said that last fall they scoured the payroll for essential positions and decided that they could only hire 52 additional positions. Of those essential positions, 3 of them were streetworkers. (This despite the fact that the Boston Municipal Research Bureau and the Financial Commission say that the current amount of people on payroll is unsustainable)
She said that even though they posted the streetworker position in November they just filled it last month, confirming what I had heard from the gentleman in Dorchester. She said that the phrase 'hiring freeze' was just "advertising".
This again points out the dishonesty of the Menino administration, or maybe the lack of good reporting in Boston. I certainly understand if an important position opens up such as the head of the Department of Public Healh needs to be filled, but if we have a hiring "freeze" because of the dire economic situation, it should be an actual hiring freeze, and I would argue that a streetworker is a non-essential position especially if the City somehow survived for 4 months without that position being filled.
Meanwhile we are laying off teachers. A classroom couldn't sit full of kids without a teacher for 4 months. We need to make value judgments in our city budget right now, and the Mayor is deciding against education(with complicity from the City Council). That is not a mistake that I would make.