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City Worker Kinships Are to Be Expected, Says Goins : Kinships Among City Staff to Be Expected, Says Goins

August 30, 1987|WILLIAM NOTTINGHAM | Times Staff Writer

COMPTON-In any close-knit community with few major employers, City Manager James C. Goins says, you might expect lots of people on the public payroll to be relatives.

Compton is no exception, he says.

Even critics who complain about alleged nepotism and cronyism at City Hall agree that many of Compton's family ties are largely coincidental; for example, the former Robin Smith got her job as a clerical assistant in the city manager's office before becoming daughter-in-law to Mayor Walter R. Tucker.

Other relationships have become so matter-of-fact that they fail to inspire controversy.

City Treasurer Wesley Sanders Jr. says no one objected 14 years ago when he hired a distant cousin, Marie Fuqua. "I needed somebody I could trust" to handle city money, Sanders explained in a recent interview.

"Our cousinship is so far removed that it wouldn't even be counted as blood," Sanders emphasized. "I can't even tell you how close it is. . . . It could be fifth or sixth cousin."

A few relationships have been the target of blunt accusations.

When Councilman Floyd A. James' brother, William, was given a job in the city attorney's office in 1985, Councilman Maxcy D. Filer exclaimed: "If that doesn't smell of nepotism, a rose doesn't smell sweet." Councilman James argued that he had no voice in the decision, since the city charter gives council members authority over just two municipal employees--the city manager and the controller.

At various times several department heads have been joined on the city staff by relatives. Among them:

- General Services Director Hobart Bowen and his daughter, Renee, who once worked in the water department.

- Building Director William L. Edwards and his daughter, Deborah, who once worked in the communications office.

- Cable Public Affairs Manager Sumire Gant and her brother, Edward, who once worked under her supervision as a cable television production specialist.

A top Goins aide, Asst. City Manager Edmund F. Sotelo, has a brother, Frank, who still serves as neighborhood center director, and a nephew, Frank Jr., who still works as a firefighter.

Goins said he has no relatives on the staff.

Until former City Manager Laverta S. Montgomery was discharged last fall for alleged chronic absenteeism, her family ties were among the city's most extensive: Her daughter Joie worked as a graphic artist, son Eric as a custodian and brother Alton Whitaker as a painter.

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