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Editorial - Tougher policy needed

November 14, 1997

Editorial - Tougher policy needed

Just weeks after Washington County Sheriff Charles Mades drew some criticism for hiiring his son-in-law as a deputy sheriff, county officials have discovered that their payroll also includes the sister and brother-in-law of Alan J. Davis, the county personnel director. It's time for the county board to draft a tougher anti-nepotism policy.

There is no such policy in force at the sheriff's department, which operates somewhat independently of county government because the sheriff is elected rather than appoinbted by the county board.

But the commissioners did adopt such a policy for their own work force in 1988, a policy that "stricly prohibits" county supervisors from interfering in the hiring process in a way that would favor the employment of their relatives.

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Despite that policy, Davis' brother-in-law and sister were hired in 1992 and 1993. Since Davis' department does background checks on prospective employees, he had to know his relatives were seeking county employment.

So what's to be done now? The blame for not adhering to this policy should not fall on the two that were hired. As personnel director, that was Davis' responsibility.

For the future, we believe two things must be done. The first is that as long as Davis' relatives are on the county payroll, he must not be involved in decisions regarding their performance evaluations and promotions.

The second is that the anti-nepotism policy should be amended so that from this time forward, any county supervisor who interferes in the hiring or promotion process on behalf of a relative faces dismissal.

That's a harsh punishment, but it's necessary so that those who pay taxes to run county government can be assured that they're paying for the best possible people, rather than the people with the best connections.

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