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Board looking into family favortism

Civil service official says 'there are major problems in Burbank' regarding nepotism.

October 29, 2010|By Gretchen Meier,

Burbank officials this week began a policy discussion on nepotism and what they said was a void of rules governing family members who work directly with one another.

According to Civil Service Board Chairman Nathan Schlossman's calculations, based on a public records request of all city employees, there are individuals related to one another in every department of the city, he said.

"I requested a list of all employees with their titles and departments they work for, and I was astounded with what I saw," he said.


Schlossman threw out all common names in his unofficial analysis and cited the example of the Burbank Police Department, in which he said he found 27 employees who were related as of March.

Burbank's official nepotism policy is negotiated individually with the employee labor organizations. The policies state that relatives may not directly supervise relatives and must consider safety, security or morale issues that may arise out of hiring a family member.

During a cursory survey of nepotism policies in regional cities, staff found that some prohibit the hiring of applicants who are related to City Council members and institute stricter hiring and more separation of relatives within departments.

Civil Service Board members, meeting jointly with the City Council, agreed a new policy needs to be considered, but disagreed on how far the policy should go, and some disagreed that there are problems with current practices.

"My point is looking forward, and that if someone from the outside looks in, it's solid, clean and transparent," said City Councilman David Gordon.

Mayor Anja Reinke's daughter is a city employee, but Senior Assistant City Atty. Terry Stevenson assured the council that there was no conflict of interest for the discussion on Tuesday.

"All conflict questions are fact-specific and, given the nature of the meeting and what action was being taken by the council, there was no conflict of interest for Mayor Reinke to engage in a general philosophical discussion regarding the city's nepotism policy," Stevenson said. "[She] has no authority regarding the hiring or evaluation of any city employee with the exception of the city manager and the city attorney."

City officials were directed to draft a policy for review by the Civil Service Board that will return to the City Council for final approval.

"I understand that there needs to be some wiggle room, and I am not supportive of a strict corporate model," Schlossman said. "But there needs to be some separation, and there are major problems in Burbank."

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