Weekly Feature

2006-07-19 / Front Page

Mohan wants to do away with 'friends and family' plan

by JESSICA L. FINCH Associate Editor

Supervisor Satish Mohan, dissatisfied with the Town of Amherst's hiring policy, has proposed an end to nepotism.

There were mixed reactions at the July 10 board meeting after Mohan proposed a change in the town's notification policy for job openings and a reduction in the number of hirings resulting from the recommendations of family and friends.

But an amended resolution was approved, and Town Attorney Tom Jones and Personnel Director Robert McCarthy were instructed to draft a local law pertaining to the topic within 30 days.

"A process had to be set," Mohan said, adding that the town would advertise openings in The Amherst Bee and other outlets.

The supervisor favored the resolution because he doesn't feel that residents are aware of job openings in the town. He said taxpayers are not afforded equal and fair opportunities to apply for town jobs.

"Most new recruitments have been done from family and friends of the existing employees," he said.

To resolve the problem he has suggested, in addition to more job posting, that a committee of two department heads and three citizens be formed to review applicants before an appointment is made.

Initially, the resolution called for two Town Board members to also be on the committee, but that line was removed, amending the resolution.

The committee members, who would serve one-year terms, would be selected randomly from a list of available candidates and meet quarterly or as needed, Mohan's resolution stated.

To avoid the current problem of involvement by family and friends, Mohan added a section that would require committee members to excuse themselves if they are friends or family members of applicants.

Jobs based on civil service exams would still be filled according to the best scores and best candidates, even if the applicant is a relative of a current employee.

During the meeting, Chief John Moslow aired his concerns related to a committee appointing town police officers.

"I am not comfortable with a citizen committee making that decision," he said, adding that the police department has a group consisting of captains, lieutenants and Assistant Chief Askey who interview candidates.

He said decisions are based on test scores and achievements. Moslow added it is not uncommon for an applicant to be related to an officer because many children and siblings of officers choose to pursue the same career path.

Deputy Supervisor Deborah Bruch Bucki said the problem is an information issue, and a local law would level the playing field for residents to apply.

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