New East St. Louis Mayor Emeka Jackson-Hicks is making all the city department heads reapply for their positions, and maybe that’s to show she’s serious about cleaning up City Hall. But unless she’s planning to replace every one of them, this is a disruptive, maybe counterproductive, way to go about it.
This process is sometimes used by other employers, both public and private. But the process creates weeks of anxiety and uncertainty for the people doing the reapplying and the ones who work for them. Then there’s the upset when some people aren’t retained. Not surprisingly, productivity tends to drop during those stressful, unsettled weeks.
It’s going to be even more difficult in East St. Louis because all department heads are affected including the key positions of police chief, fire chief and budget director. They all have to submit resumes as if they don’t even work there.
Jackson-Hicks and her team have been assessing city leadership since her election in April, and probably before. She no doubt already has a good idea of the people she wants to go and to stay.
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The city would be better served if she prioritized and addressed the biggest problems and concerns directly with department heads, fired the ones she doesn’t want to retain and let everyone else continue on conducting the city’s business.