By Kevin Kelley
Once the subject of a prosecutor’s investigation for nepotism, Mayor Dennis Clough has proposed a strict policy on the hiring of relatives by the city.
The mayor and City Council members discussed the proposed policy at a May 29 meeting of Council’s Planning, Zoning and Legislation Committee.
Under the policy, no immediate family member of any public official, director or department head, or any employee in a management position, would be eligible for municipal employment of any kind, even part-time or seasonal employment.
The one-page document listing restrictions on the employment of relatives states that the policy is designed to “avoid the perception or possibility of favoritism and the potential for unequal treatment in the selection and hiring process,” and in connection with transfers and promotions.
Council members had discussed passing an ordinance that would restrict the hiring of relatives, but the mayor wanted to handle it by policy, said Ward 1 Councilman Ed Hack, who chairs the PZL committee. The committee voted 3-0 to recommend the administration adopt the policy.
While the policy would not necessarily be permanent or binding on any future mayor, Hack said he is happy with the policy, which he described as a compromise between council and the mayor on the issue.
“I think it’s a good compromise,” Hack told West Life. He pointed out that while relatives of persons in management positions could not be hired under the policy, relatives of rank-and-file employees could be hired by the city.
“It takes away all the gossip” surrounding the hiring of relatives, Ward 2 Councilman Jim Connole said at the May 29 meeting.
The policy would also apply to relatives of council members. In the past, the spouses of Council President Mike Killeen and Ward 5 Councilman Ken Brady worked for the city in part-time positions.
In 2005, The Plain Dealer reported that five of Clough’s relatives worked at the Rocky River Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is run by Rocky River but serves the Westshore. At the time, Clough sat on the plant’s management board. Following an investigation, then-County Prosecutor Bill Mason said no wrongdoing was found.
Proposed Westlake Policy on Hiring of Relatives
● No immediate family member of any public official, director or department head, or any employee in a management position, shall be eligible for any municipal employment.
● All city employees with knowledge that any relative is applying to the city must notify the city’s human resources department. Public employees are not to use their position or influence in the hiring process.
● Immediate family members may not work in the same municipal department. *
● If two city employees marry, one must resign within 60 days of the marriage. If no resignation takes place, employment of the most recently hired employee will be terminated within 90 days of the marriage. *
● Immediate family members are defined as spouse, parents, step-parents, children, step-children. Siblings, step-siblings, mother- and father-in-law, son- and daughter-in-law, brother- and sister-in-law, grandparents and grandchildren.
(* Current employees hired before the implementation of this policy are exempt.)