Report: Detroit Public Library administrators accused of nepotism

May 6, 2011

The Detroit Public Library is facing accusations of "nepotism, cronyism and mismanagement" according to a report published in the Detroit News.

The accusations are becoming public at a time when the Detroit library system faces an $11 million deficit and isĀ  considering closing most of its branches. Michigan Radio's Sarah Hulett reported that "one proposal would leave only five of 23 branches open."

The News says top executives at the Library have family members on the payroll and contracts worth thousands of dollars have been awarded to relatives.

From the Detroit News:

Hiring relatives is so common at the library that about one in six staffers have relatives among the 376 employees, according to an internal review obtained by The Detroit News.

"This nepotism and cronyism has led to the downfall of the city," said Reginald Amos, a retired Detroit Fire Department deputy chief and resident who said the family hires remind him of ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's administration. "It's the friends-and-family plan. It's not about serving the people. It's self-serving."

The Detroit Public Library's human resource director, Trinee Moore - one of the officials accused of nepotism, told the News that there are safeguards in place to prevent preferential treatment and that the Detroit Public Library is no different than other businesses where family members are referred for employment.

So how do you know when the line is being crossed? Is nepotism just a fact of life in politics and business?

NPR's Steve Inskeep discussed these questions with a writer for Harvard Business Online

Have you encountered nepotism in the workplace?