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December 02, 2016
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Nepotism in county government; visitors association in the crosshairs

Personnel officer Carolyn Hill said that because many county employees are covered by civil service regulations, there are restrictions as to the limits the legislature could impose on employees. She said, for example, if an employee has the qualifications for a certain position, the employee could not be blocked from consideration simply because a relative might work in the same department.

She added, however, that the New York State Comptroller had a model code of ethics that prohibits a supervisor from “participating in the hiring, firing or disciplining of a relative or supervising a relative.”

Facebook and bullying

The issue arose because Lynda Levine, the county director of human resources, said she was working on an update of the employee handbook. It was initially created in 2005 and was updated in 2007, but it was never formally adopted by the county.

Beyond the issue of nepotism, Levine asked the legislature if they were interested in developing a policy regarding Facebook and other social media to guard against the reputation of the county being harmed should an employee post something negative.

Benson asked if she was referring to county computers or home computers. She answered “both,” and said the legislature could formulate a policy regarding social media to protect the county’s reputation should it choose to do so.

Also, she asked if the legislature wanted to develop a policy regarding bullying, which would cover everyone, unlike the policy regarding harassment, which only covers protected classes, such as minorities.

Sandy Shaddock, a union representative for Teamsters Local 445, which includes hundreds of county employees, said, “The bullying throughout this county is rampant; it is definitely a problem. At least 20% to 30% of my calls get diverted to Carolyn Hill as a hostile work environment issue because there is nothing in the contract that deals with bullying.”

The legislature took no action on any of the issues raised.