Name's Brown? No experience needed Carroll County: County government's hiring practices invite favoritism and nepotism

September 21, 1995

BY HIRING Stephen Brown, son of Carroll Sheriff John H. Brown, as the county's airport manager without advertising the job, the county government creates the distinct impression that its personnel policies are designed to reward insiders. This unfortunate incident only reinforces a notion that Carroll government is run by a good old boys network.

There is no dispute that the county needs an airport manager. The position has been vacant since May, after former manager John W. Lucas left after serving for only six months. Kathy Devilbliss, the part-time airport management assistant, had been filling in, but she resigned Sept. 6. Even though the job has been vacant for several months, the county never bothered to advertise its availability.

Stephen Brown actually never applied for the position. He had instead sought to become a deputy public works director. Michael J. Evans, the public works director, did not hire him but forwarded his resume to county economic development director Jack Lyburn, who now oversees airport operations.

Even though Stephen Brown did not meet a number of the requirements originally specified for the job -- including having a pilot's license and extensive airport managerial experience -- he was appointed to fill the post. It pays $29,250 annually.

Commissioner Richard T. Yates said the county government should not be required to advertise its vacant positions. To the contrary, by not advertising openings, the county government failing to attract the best qualified candidates to fill vacancies and is also inviting abuses such as hiring political cronies and relatives. Many county governments have instituted stringent civil service practices to avoid the favoritism and nepotism that once characterized local government hiring.

Carroll's citizens deserve to have the most qualified people fill public sector jobs. The county's current cavalier approach does a disservice to the taxpayers.

While it may be true that some things were better in the "good old days," filling government positions with unqualified relatives was not one of them.

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