Three Redlands City Council members support nepotism under special circumstances.
Councilmen Paul Barich and Eddie Tejeda, on Tuesday, Nov. 5, supported a modification to the nepotism clause, proposed by Councilwoman Toni Momberger, under the suggested personnel rules and regulations proposed by city staff.
Mayor Paul Foster suggested approving the proposed rules, which included a nepotism clause with the goal to avoid conflicts of interest between work-related and personal/family obligations.
The motion to approve the rules failed 3-2. Momberger immediately made a motion to approve the rules with a condition to waive the nepotism clause if the city fails to recruit a competitive candidate after six months, but only if there is no direct supervisorial relationship within the same department.
The motion carried 3-2, meaning the item was tabled and to be sent back for discussion.
“A very sad situation,” said Foster.
The proposed rules would have reduced favoritism or appearance of favoritism, prevent personal or family conflicts from affecting the workplace and decrease the likelihood of sexual harassment and/or gender discrimination in the workplace.
The proposed rules would have promoted safety, security, effective supervision and morale.
According to Tommi Ng, Human Resources assistant director, said that under the proposed rules the city would not be hiring family members in the same department.
Barich said that if the proposed rules were approved firefighters would have not be able to work side by side with sons or daughters.
“What I am concerned is that we are eliminating the possibility of a good candidate,” implying that children of first responders are by de facto good candidates.
Foster said that it is “absolutely essential to have a nepotism policy.”
“The best practice across the state is to have a nepotism policy that reflects that. We have been able to hire good candidates; we will continue to be able to hire good candidates. This item has been reviewed multiple times over many months by both police and fire and they have signed off on the document,” said Foster.
Without explanation, Tejeda supported Momberger’s suggestion.
In California, nepotism is not illegal in private employment. However, at the government levels, rules and often approved to prevent favoritism and ensure equal rights of employment.
In 2017, a nepotism investigation at the state’s Board of Equalization found that about 800 of the 4,200 employees were related to one another.