County Nepotism Rule Urged Amid Dispute
An Orange County supervisor asked county officials Monday to develop a hiring policy regarding nepotism in the wake of published reports that the operations manager of the county’s landfills employs three of his children in his department.
Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez, saying he was surprised that the county does not have such a policy, said he asked the Personnel Department to develop countywide rules on the employment of relatives.
“I have always had a belief that while there are instances where relatives work for the same organization, there should not be a situation where a relative supervises a relative,” Vasquez said. “I think it’s important to have a policy on that. And, frankly, I’m surprised that we don’t have one.”
Personnel Director Russ Patton said that the nepotism rules in Orange County are handled by each department because there are too many employees for his office to track relationships and that there are legal questions about raising the issue.
But Patton said he will investigate the policies of other counties and research the legal questions in response to Vasquez’s request.
Jobs for 3 Children
The issue of nepotism was raised in a story published Sunday in the Orange County Register, which said that the county landfill operations manager, Bob Bragg, had three of his five children working at various jobs in landfills.
Ben Monteroso, a representative for the Service Employees International Union, said Monday that the situation has sparked complaints from other employees about alleged preference given to the Bragg relatives.
R. A. (Bert) Scott, director of the county General Services Agency, acknowledged that a supervisor once claimed in a grievance that Bragg targeted him for retaliation after he disciplined Bragg’s daughter, Tammy.
Paul Edgerton, the supervisor, was reassigned at his request to another county department not connected with Bragg. Edgerton was not available for comment Monday.
Bragg did not return telephone calls to his office Monday.
Scott, however, said: “The allegation that there is retribution is absolutely contradicted by the record.
“There have been other instances where Bragg kids have been disciplined, and there has been no claim by the people doing the discipline that they were retaliated against.”
Policy in Agency
Scott also wrote to the supervisors Monday that, contrary to the newspaper story, there is a nepotism policy within the General Services Agency, which includes the waste management division for which Bragg and his children work. And that policy was followed in the hiring of Bragg’s three children, he said.
Scott said the policy prohibits a county employee from hiring or working with a relative unless it is approved by a higher authority. Scott said Bragg was not allowed to be involved in the decisions about hiring his children and that they were made by Bragg’s superior, as required by the policy.
“I think we have a good policy and I think it has been adhered to,” Scott said of the case. “There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the way things have been handled in (the) waste management (division).”
GSA’s policy regarding nepotism states: “The assignment of relatives in the same work area or line of supervision shall be avoided in cases where it is believed such a relationship would be detrimental to effective operations and/or employment relations within GSA.”