In County Government, it's all in the family

November 17, 1997

All right, maybe this way will be less complicated: All those in Washington County government who are NOT related to someone else in Washington County government please raise your hand.

Sheriff Charles Mades hires his son-in-law, a former golf pro, and the county hires personnel director Alan Davis' sister and brother-in-law.

Who says patronage is dead?

You pick up an application in most businesses and the first things they ask are for education and experience.

In Washington County all they need to know is whether your are a:

1. Relative

2. Friend.

3. Neighbor.

4. Golfing buddy.


In the solar system, everything revolves around the sun, and in Washington County everything seems to revolve around the golf ball. And if you are a golf pro, well forget it. You are instantly qualified to be a sheriff's deputy.

This will be my luck. I'll be in the process of being mugged and the cruiser will pull up and out will step Sam Snead.

"You have the right to play through. If you give up the right to play through every ball you hit can and will be swiped by the foursome in front. If you cannot afford a caddy one will be appointed for you..."

I don't question Mades' judgment in hiring a relative, I question his judgment in helping someone he's close to switch from playing golf to playing cops and robbers for a living. Face it, going from golf pro to sheriff's deputy isn't exactly going to win you the Golden Transfer Award from Career Moves Magazine.

And Alan Davis - what can you say? He's responsible for doing background checks on potential employees. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt though. I assume his background check simply didn't turn up the fact that the applicant in question was his sister.

Frankly, I'm scared to pick up a copy of the county's employee roster.

I'm afraid it's going to read Alan Davis, Jim Davis, Eric Davis, Bette Davis, Storm Davis, Miles Davis, Sammy Davis, Crash Davis, Geena Davis, Jefferson Davis, the Davis Cup and Davis Love III.

Ah ha! See, what did I tell you? It all gets back to golf.

Since the story broke, The Herald-Mail has been getting plenty of calls about who's related to whom in county government. It sounds like applicants are less in need of competency testing than they are DNA testing.

County Commissioner Lee Downey said that in a small community like Hagerstown it's sometimes hard not to hire your kin.

I love this this way of thinking more than I can say. It's like every personnel office in the Tri-State should have a sign on the wall saying "Thank you for not hiring your cousin." Or at the commissioners' administration building, "Welcome to Washington County government, where everyone is treated like family."

Davis himself had an interesting way of handling the situation when questioned by a reporter. He hung up the phone. But not before saying the newspaper was trying "to make an issue out of something."

No Al, the newspaper didn't make it an issue, you did by apparently violating the county's nepotism policy that prohibits supervisors from becoming involved in the hiring of their relatives.

People who have backed themselves into tight places customarily blame others for unpleasantries of their own creation. Davis took it one step further by saying, basically, that he doesn't talk to the newspaper anymore because it has the audacity to report the news.

Either that or because no one in the newsroom is named Davis.

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