[EDITORIALS]Lame-duck appointments

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[EDITORIALS]Lame-duck appointments

With less than 10 days left for the incumbent heads of local governments to turn over their offices to their successors, a battle of personnel management is being engaged by several governments. By appointing the people they want in the places they want, incumbent local heads are making sure that they are rewarding those "deserving" while retaining some kind of grip on power after they leave office. The incoming leaders, not surprisingly, are protesting this tactic. This year's local election results have not failed to produce the usual round of personnel tug of wars, present every time there is a change in local leadership. A flurry of personnel changes has taken place since last week and there is reason to worry that these changes are based on favoritism and last-minute doling out of rewards on part of the old local heads before the new local heads take over the offices.

Ignoring the orders of the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs to refrain from making any personnel changes, numerous local heads on their way out have given out promotions and transfers since the local elections last week. In the case of Goheung-gun, where a total of 117 changes were made, 56 people were promoted, the biggest number ever since the local head stepped in office. Not only does this last-minute planting of staff members rob the incoming local heads of their right to choose their own office staff, it can hardly be trusted as fair. The fact that most of these newly promoted or transferred staff members are those who helped the incumbent local heads in their re-election campaigns makes them even more suspicious; just what criteria were used in making the changes? Several new leaders have already said they would try to annul the promotions. However, the law guarantees tenure in their new positions for at least one year for those who are promoted or transferred.

Even more personnel trouble is expected after the new leaders assume office. Local elections have always featured civil servants who campaign for bosses with the expectation of rewards. With 133 out of 232 local offices expecting new heads, including 9 of the 16 major offices, a lot of people will be moving.

When favoritism trumps ability, there will be chaos in our local government offices.
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