For a number of years "someone" from "The Hall" would call then Director Eric Watson and say, "My brother-in-law needs a job, I am sending him over." This is how the number employed grew to 173. The fact that it is now 131 and the PMUA provides the same services evidences how out of control matters were.
Watson used to say the PMUA was the city's fifth largest employer. I don't know the exact rankings, but Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center, the Plainfield School District and municipal government were probably the top three. Because the cry in Plainfield was and continues to be for jobs, providing so many made the authority appear to be downright benevolent.
Patronage is defined in The Free Dictionary as a "spoils" system.
This is the essence of the patronage system, also known as the spoils system ("To the victor go the spoils"): appointing persons to government positions on the basis of political support and work rather than on merit, as measured by objective criteria.
In the annals of City Hall patronage, there was the case of a low-level employee who, several years ago, felt so entitled.that he took a car from the city's fleet for his own use. As I recall, that person was relieved of duty.
I used to annotate city committee lists with the job titles or appointments received by the politically loyal, though I am sure some involved merit or talent and not just fealty to those in power.
The trouble with patronage is that it ultimately creates tension, if not outright ill will, among staff members when a feeling of entitlement leads one person to slack off while another is doing an honest day's work. But there may also be a price on favoritism. I was in a city office a few years ago when a woman with a big purse came in. She was there to collect for the party. A staffer complained after the bag woman left that she had given a large chunk of her pay out in donations to various officials.
Concluding his comment, Kruse had kind words for PMUA Executive Director Daniel Mejias and also a bit of sympathy:
We can hope, but patronage still seems to be the way of the world.