The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

August 12, 2013

Council approves updated nepotism policy, hires police officer

OTTUMWA — With a change in the city's nepotism policy, the Ottumwa Police Department gained a new officer.

The City Council approved a revised nepotism policy Monday night after discovering that a candidate for a vacant police officer position — Steve Lee Jr. — was the brother-in-law of DARE officer Brandon Gravett.

City Attorney Joni Keith said the current nepotism policy was passed in 2006 but didn't give the city a lot of flexibility in its hiring process.

"It's clear, and I don't think there's any discussion, really, or objection that family members should not be supervising other family members," she said.

The policy was also broadened to include cohabitating couples and first cousins, as well as to clarify the process when two city employees in the same department marry or live together.

Family members supervising other family members "could lead to favoritism in job assignments, job promotion, initial employment, pay increases and could create morale problems or conflicts of interest," Keith said.

The new two-tiered policy makes it so certain family members can never work in the same department. The second tier of family members could work in the same department but could not be in supervisory positions over each other.

The full list of family members included in the policy can be found with this story.

A revision was also made to address what happens when two city employees in the same department marry each other or begin living together.

"We have a very excellent candidate for the police department that we would like to hire," Keith said. "He's a wonderful young man who's wanting to come back to the community where his family is located."

Councilman J.R. Richards said according to the Iowa League of Cities, there is no conflict in hiring Lee. The council unanimously approved his hire.

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