City Hall Shenanigans: Trickery on Civil Service exams unfair to other applicants


City Hall — A woman in the Niagara Falls’ finance department – we will call her Tammy – who has worked there for several years on what is called “provisional” status, recently flunked her civil service exam.

It was the second time she failed the exam.

Tammy was appointed to her position as an auditor. It is a union position and the rules require she take a civil service exam within a year of her appointment.

She must pass the exam to keep her job. Tammy failed the exam. That’s public record.

Since the job Tammy had “provisionally” was required to be posted, other people had the same right to take the civil service test and try for the job.

That’s the law.

Government is supposed to serve all equally.

At least three people took the test that Tammy took and passed. You can go down to Human Resources and look at the list and see who passed it.

Tammy failed the test.

Of course there is a conflict. People, her supervisors like Tammy. They want her to keep the job.

She is a good worker, everybody says.

But there are rules.

So what is the Dyster administration going to do?

Tammy failed her test and by straight honest law she can no longer keep the job.

By law the city must hire someone who was among the top three scores who passed the test.



Mayor Paul Dyster has been known to change the rules depending on who it is he wants to help.

A source tells us the Dyster Administration was planning to get around the law by simply changing Tammy’s job title so she can keep her job another year.

If this is true, is this corruption?

The Dyster Administration advertised the job and permitted people to pay money, and invest the time to study and take the civil service test for an auditor’s job, thinking it was an honest government advertising an honest job opportunity.

People paid $25 dollars to take the test.

Now, sources say it is not an honest government and that it was not an honest job opening.

The thing was rigged from the start.

The Dyster administration wanted only Tammy to pass the test and they wanted to give the job to her.

The other people who would take the test, they would just be used in order to make it all seem honest when it was not.

Imagine if it was you. Your city government is so corrupt they fool you into thinking there is a job and invite you to come take a test – you are equal under the law and everyone has a fair chance, when all the while it is crooked up for Tammy.


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City Controller Sandy Peploe, like any good department head, is said to want the best employees. She is trying hard to keep Tammy but skirting civil service rules is no way to do it.

“We will crook it up for Tammy and ignore the rest,” the the others who took the test are of no consequence. And no one will be the wiser.

And if Tammy had passed the test, it would have worked. They would have ignored the other applicants and given her the job.

It would not matter to those who work below the threshold of honesty in government that they wasted other people’s time with a BS job opening.

They wanted Tammy.

But she didn’t pass the test.

Of course she wants to keep the job; it pays $38,000. But what will you do?

By law she cannot keep it.

Will the administration break the law?

Will she be able to keep the job through a Dyster administration deception of changing the job title of her job?

Keep the girl but change the job title?

By eliminating the old job which Tammy failed the test for and cannot keep, and by creating a new fictitious title for the same job, the dishonest government official can hand the new job, which is really the old job, back over to Tammy as a new “provisional” appointee and she won’t have to take the civil service test for the new fake titled job for another year.

That was the plan, according to sources.

Yet if the City changes the title of Tammy’s job to skirt or break the civil service law, will this be investigated by law enforcement as political corruption?

Tammy had been “provisionally” at her job as auditor.

She had to take the civil service exam and pass in the top three.

The exam was held on March 5. It cost $25.

The woman who flunked the test is still on the job getting paid $38,000. The people who passed the test have not been interviewed.

One of them should already have been hired.

The rules require the city to vacate a provisional hire within 60 days of her failure to pass the exam and by law must appoint someone who passed the text.

The exam results were posted weeks ago.

Is the City going to change her title so she can keep the job?

If they change her job title and let her keep working at the same pay and the same work and then allow another year to go by before she has to take the exam again, is this a corrupt bargain?

Of course it is a good job. Nobody wants anybody to lose a good job. It pays $38,000 per year plus better than private sector health insurance and other benefits and a pension package, plus a short 35-hour work week.

A source tells us that Tammy flunked an earlier civil

service test a couple of years ago for the same job, but then, since nobody else applied and took the test, she was allowed to stay on provisionally.

But this time, at least three others took the test and passed.

An honest administration wouldn’t let people come and take tests and qualify, then crook the deal for someone who failed the test. Honest government follows the rules it requires of others.


(Editor’s note: Of course there is another side to this story of Tammy who is a real person with real desires and hopes and needs.  She may need the job. She may have a family. It is cruel to make a qualified person go out on the street to hire someone unknown because she happened to do well on a civil service test that is only a test and doesn’t truly measure competency or decency.

Or an ability to work well with others, or listen to the boss and do it right.

It may be true that Tammy is good at her job, so very good that the people would be ill-served if the city lost her, That her bosses depend on her so much that they will do almost anything to keep her.

And it is true that she has been working there for several years and by all accounts has proven herself a superb worker.

What does one do? In the private sector the answer is easy: The boss gets to keep the worker she  this is government and civil service at that. The Civil Service rules purportedly have a purpose, although often it is not clear what they are.

Maybe somehow there is a loophole in the Civil Service rules that allow Tammy to keep her job, the very job, with the same name because she’s good at what she does.

But the real issue is not Tammy but the deceptive way her superiors planned to keep her.

It is not justified crooking up schemes that break the rules at others’ detriment. Or lying to people to make them take a pretend test.  If there is another job for Tammy, something a little different, a new job with a new description, and she can be switched provisionally, then at least be transparent. Don’t inveigle people to come and take a test a year from now – pretending they ahve a chance at being hired – when you know you’re only going to give the job to Tammy anyway, even if she doesn’t pass the test. 

People who know their jobs and do them well are valuable and someone’s work ethic may be very good despite an inability to score well on tests.

This is a daunting challenge, to hire the best even if they are not the highest scorers on a test.



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