It may strike some students of history as ironic, if not contradictory, to talk about civil service reform. The civil service movement was the reform. Some of that skepticism was apparent in the response we received from many city employees when we began exploring the idea of reforming the city’s civil service in post-Katrina New Orleans, and it was understandable. The city employees we talked with expressed fear that we would be returning to the colorful days of Governor Huey Long, when political patronage was based on who you knew and not what you knew. They assumed there were only two options: the civil service system they were operating under and the spoils system that existed under Huey Long. Their reaction was further complicated by fear of change. Another important background element was the trauma of Katina and post-Katrina New Orleans. People in New Orleans had experienced change on almost every level of their lives. Now, for civil servants, there was another change coming, and it seemed to threaten their jobs and their pensions.



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