Nepotism rules slip under city's radar - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Nepotism rules slip under city's radar

Two grandkids said they were related to city council president on application for city jobs

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Posted: Monday, October 24, 2011 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Two of the three grandchildren of a Coeur d'Alene councilman who were fired as city seasonal workers because of nepotism rules stated on their applications that they were related to the council member.

The city's Human Resources Department said two of the applicants specified they were the grandchildren of City Council President Ron Edinger on their applications, which asked whether they were related to any city employees.

Pam McDonald, HR director, said the question - 'Are you related to any person currently employed by the city of Coeur d'Alene?' - is asked on the application because of city personnel rules, not because of the state law that prohibits mayors and council members from having family members on city payrolls.

That law, 18-1359, Using Public Position for Personal Gain, slipped under the city's radar.

McDonald said this week she, too, was unaware of the rule, as other officials had said previously, until it was pointed out to the city's legal department, which led to the three men's dismissals.

The city's personnel rules disqualify potential workers if they are "related to someone within the chain of command of the position applied for."

Applicants can be related to an employee, just not in the chain of command.

Seasonal or part-time workers, who don't receive benefits, are typically exempt from the personnel rule book anyway, McDonald said. All three dismissed workers were seasonal.

Which of the three didn't list the relationship on the application couldn't be obtained Friday afternoon.

The boys earned between $9 and $12 an hour.

Edinger said he was unaware of the rule after the news broke last week. On Friday, he said he didn't have anything more to add on his position.

Kriss Bivens Cloyd, spokesperson for the Idaho Attorney General's Office said it is up to municipalities to stay up to date on law changes. The state office works with cities and counties, along with Idahoans For Open Government, by hosting workshops outlining the changes.

Newspaper reports and an online manual posted on the agency's website also help, but the Attorney General's Office doesn't notify each city or county specifically when laws change.

"They have a legal advisor," she said of city and county legal teams.

Bivens Cloyd said the state office couldn't weigh in on Coeur d'Alene's incident.

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