Nepotism rule strikes some on Burbank City Council as overly harsh

Two Burbank City Council members this week voiced qualms over a provision in the city’s new nepotism policy that bans relatives of many City Hall executives and those serving on the dais from being municipal employees.

The new rules — approved roughly four months ago by the Civil Service Board — affects relatives of the city manager, executives in the city manager's office, management service director and City Council members from working simultaneously for the city.

Family members can be hired after the council members or city employees have completed their service to the city, according to the policy. Existing employees will not be affected.

But on Tuesday, Councilman Jess Talamantes said adhering to the rule could force managers to overlook qualified applicants.

“There’s a lot of sons and daughters who follow in their parents’ footsteps, and that’s just because the good seeds don’t fall too far from the trunk,” Talamantes said. “Shame on me for wanting to serve my community and be on the City Council and then tell my kids, ‘No, you can’t be a firefighter in Burbank.’”

Talamantes later said he fully supported the overall policy.

Councilman Gary Bric thought the rule banning relatives of the council from employment was especially strict given that no one on the dais has hiring power over city employees except for the city manager and city treasurer.

“That would be like saying ‘OK, I’m running for City Council.’ My son’s got an application to the city, my son saying, ‘Dear God, I hope you lose so I can get a job with the city,’” Bric said. “That doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Councilwoman Emily Gabel-Luddy said that while she understood those concerns, she supported the policy.

“Now that we’re in public service, it’s a whole different issue of public trust,” she said. “This policy, therefore, tries to walk a very fine line and I think it does a good job.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Dave Golonski felt that parts of the policy — including the ban on hiring relatives of the council and city manager — should be taken further and put into an ordinance.

Councilman David Gordon agreed.

“The city manager should not be the person to be able to change these policies after we note and file them,” Gordon said.

Unable to agree on how to move forward, the City Council unanimously agreed to put off any action on the policy pending the arrival of interim City Manager Ken Pulskamp on Dec. 3, giving him an opportunity to review it.

-- Alene Tchekmedyian, Times Community News

Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.


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