Wednesday, April 5, 2006

New Jersey Medical School Gives Blatant Lesson in Spoils System

From The New York Times:
Rarely has an institution offered as explicit a lesson in the spoils system as New Jersey's state medical school, which codified its highly elaborate system of political favoritism in a series of memos, e-mail messages and spreadsheets. The university's president, Dr. John Petillo, assigned job applicants a numerical ranking of 1 to 3 based on the political pull of their sponsors, according to documents released this week by a federal monitor, and ordered his staff members to deliver a formalized set of courtesies that the applicants' status entitled them to.

The documents are remarkable not so much for their content as for their very existence. Many people know applicants who landed government jobs on the basis of whom they knew, but it is highly unusual to get such an inside glimpse at how the favoritism skews the selection process.

In an age when most political officials are well schooled in spin control and careful not to commit any of their embarrassing moments to paper, here was one of the nation's largest medical institutions, a place entrusted with providing health care to hundreds of thousands of people each year, keeping a written playbook on how administrators padded the payroll with people whose connections outshone their qualifications.
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