From The Bullpen: Don’t vilify families that work together

OK class, your vocabulary word this month is “nepotism.” Wikipedia defines nepotism as favoritism granted to relatives or friends regardless of merit.

What it seems to mean in Burbank is if you have a relative also working for the city, you are guilty of some crime, or you have no ethics.

From what I have experienced, the real definition of nepotism exists only in two areas. One is the studios. Let’s face it, there seems to be nowhere for you to go and fill out an application or submit a resume for a job in the studios — it’s all about who you know and how well you can network for most of the everyday jobs. Of course, once you get in, you better get your job done or you will find yourself on the outside.

Secondly, nepotism can be found in family businesses. A father who runs a business is always happy when his son or daughter grow up and show interest in the business and some day takes it over. It gives him a sense of pride.


In many businesses you will see members of a family working.

As a son gets older, he may take an interest in the same line of work as his father, who has worked many years at the same company. When it comes time to look for a job, the son will look at finding a job at the same company due to his familiarity with the type of work and the company.

You see it all the time when it comes to police and fire personnel. Many kids follow their parents into the same line of work because they grew up around it. It is not wrong; it is American life.

Now people are looking at the city of Burbank and accusing officials of nepotism just because members of the same family are working in various departments.


A lot of this involves the bonuses that have been paid out for various reasons. Everyone automatically thinks that Burbank is another Bell and there are crooked things going on.

Everyone thinks that since the L.A. Times broke the Bell story (and the Times was tipped off about it), that every city is like Bell and now they will bring down that city the same way that Woodward and Bernstein took down Nixon.

Yes, I agree with and applaud The Leader and The Times for holding Burbank accountable for the bonuses, but only because I want to make sure not one person or group of people got unfair sums. I do not want to see every amount paid to every worker. Anyone who was paid 5% or less of his salary as a bonus probably deserved it.

What I would like to see is anyone who made more than 5%. If someone making $100,000 a year gets a $10,000 bonus, then I would like an explanation. To the hard working employee who makes a small bonus each year, congratulations and well done.

After it all sorts out, I think when you look at relatives and bonuses, you are not going to find a smoking gun.

I am sure you will find that City Manager Mike Flad reviewed the hundreds of bonuses that were paid out and that relatives weren’t giving bonuses to other relatives. I have to believe that there is a check and balance system in place to make sure this situation does not even come up. This is not a new allegation.

I am told that the Police Department has a policy that no officer may ever supervise his relative. I am sure the same policies exist in other departments.

So let’s not punish sons for following fathers into a job, or relatives who are told of job openings and receive those jobs because they are qualified for them. Let’s not put restrictions on who can and can’t work for the city.


What is too bad is that we have a city attorney’s office that refuses to release the information and makes a newspaper sue for it, making us think there is something being hidden. I think a lot of the finger pointers are going to be very disappointed when this information is finally released.

Burbank is a family city, so don’t be so surprised when some of these families, who also live in our city, work here.

CRAIG SHERWOOD is the executive editor of and a baseball coach at Burbank High School. He can be reached at