08/05/07 — Policy prohibits city employees' relatives from seeking office

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Policy prohibits city employees' relatives from seeking office

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on August 5, 2007 2:01 AM

The Goldsboro City Council adopted a resolution on personnel policy during the last council meeting that may not be good news for some.

As of July 12, the policy stated that no one who was an immediate family member of a city employee could run for mayor or a council seat.

But, the policy has already been in place, said councilman Chuck Allen, and the council just felt the need to enforce it.

Tasha Logan, assistant city manager, said that there was a policy but the past policy included nothing about family members of city employees running for office.

Now, "(the city) will not hire family members of the council, city manager or assistant city manager," she said.

The policy further states that employment is prohibited of family members of the finance director, human resources director, city clerk or city attorney.

The policy continues that the city will consider employing family members or relatives as long as the employment does not "result in a relative supervising a relative, a relative auditing the work of a relative, a conflict of interest with either the relative or the city or create the potential or perception of favoritism."

After reworking the employment policy last month, the council adopted the entire 30-page policy, only part of which was the section about family employment.

"Some people may not have even known it was there," said Allen, since it was only section five of a multiple-page document.

The policy was not brought up because of a conflict, Allen continued. He said it was brought up for discussion for a different reason.

"The current council members are not allowed to have family members work for the city, and we just wanted to make sure that new council members coming in would not be allowed to do that either."

Unopposed, the policy still found mixed feelings among the council.

"My only problem with it is that we would be punishing an employee who was already (working with the city)," said councilman Jackie Warrick. "I can see the other side of it though.

"Say if my son went up there to work, some people might think that would be a conflict of interest. But I also see loyal employees who have worked there a long time, and they would lose their jobs."

If an immediate family member was elected, the city employee would have six months to resign, Ms. Logan said.

David Lawrence, professor of public law and government with the UNC Institute of Government, said that this sort of personal policy is not common in municipalities, but it is not uncommon either.

He continued that the council will never tell a person not to run.

Instead, Lawrence said they "will just fire the relative that works for the city."

Councilman Bob Waller liked the resolution.

"I can see the advantage of (the policy)," he said. "Nepotism is something that you have to really be careful about because it will bring a lot of criticism. (The policy) has a lot of good points."