August 21, 2014 01:20AM
By Dan Brechlin
MERIDEN — The wait for the City Council to implement an anti-nepotism policy continues more than eight months after the council agreed to study the issue. The wait, however, shouldn’t last much longer, according to Deputy Mayor Bob Williams.
The first of two nepotism policies were referred to the committee of the whole by the City Council in early May. The policy would prevent close relatives from working in the same city department. Close relatives are defined as spouse, child, parent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, brother, sister, first cousin, stepfather, stepmother, stepbrother, stepsister, brother-in-law, sister- in-law, grandparents and grandchildren.
A second policy was drafted close to a month ago and has yet to be taken up by the committee, which is made up of councilors. The policy would prevent anyone from being hired into a position where a close relative is a supervisor. It was drafted after some councilors requested an alternative.
Williams, who chairs the committee of the whole, told members of the City Council Monday night the nepotism policy would be on the council’s Sept. 2 agenda. The item is expected to again be referred to the committee of the whole because the council’s original resolution expired.
“We’ve tossed the issue around quite a bit,” Williams said in an interview Wednesday. “Once it’s put back on the agenda, there will be a push to have it move pretty rapidly. It shouldn’t be more than another 30 to 45 days.”
A public hearing on the anti-nepotism policy was held in early June. Later that month, the committee met to discuss the proposed policy. A second meeting was scheduled for Thursday but, because it was not posted 24 hours in advance as required under the state Freedom of Information regulations, the meeting was canceled. Several other scheduling conflicts have arisen in the last month, Williams said.
“Regardless of the direction the policy will take, I expect decisions to be made,” he said.
U.S. Attorney Thomas Daily recommended more than two years ago that the city adopt an anti-nepotism policy to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. The recommendation followed an investigation of a matter involving Police Chief Jeffry Cossette and his son, former officer Evan Cossette.
The council remains divided, but unlike many recent issues they are not split across party lines.
Councilor Kevin Scarpati, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said he remains in support of a policy aimed at avoiding conflicts with supervisors.
“It seems like the vast majority would be more in favor of a supervisory policy,” Scarpati said of fellow councilors. “The argument was made to have more of a blanket policy to avoid some of the issues in the past, especially with public perception. I’m not in favor of that at this point.”