South Evanston park district creates hiring policy amid nepotism concerns

Edward Cox, Assistant Web Editor

A park district in south Evanston created a new hiring policy this month after a board member raised concerns about nepotism.

Ridgeville Park District commissioners approved a policy Thursday requiring a consensus of at least three board members when candidates with close relations to park district members are considered for jobs. If the board member is closely related to the candidate, he cannot vote.

“Nepotism continues at Ridgeville but with a new sort of public scrutiny by having members vote on it,” commissioner Dan Coyne said.

Commissioners Robert Bady and Ann Covode drafted the policy, which was presented at a board meeting. The new policy arises after commissioners Coyne and Bady raised concerns that district job postings were not advertised enough to local residents.

Currently, only Rita McCourt, the minute taker of the meetings, is related to a board member. Ridgeville director of parks and recreation Brian Rosinski has hired family members as part-time employees for jobs in past years. Bady has raised concerns about the hiring process as early as November after joining the board last year.

During the meeting, commissioners agreed to grandfather in the wives of Rosinski and Ridgeville Park District president Pat McCourt as part-time employees and wait until next year to apply the new hiring process, Bady said.

“It’s the relatives who (will) be (treated) unfairly,” Bady said. “The spotlight is on them.”

According to data from Cook County payroll forms collected by Coyne, about $13,000 was paid to members of Rosinski’s family during the 2011-12 fiscal year. Many of the positions Rosinski’s relatives held involved youth camp leadership.

Relatives to McCourt and commissioner Covode have also served the park district, according to recent data.

Rosinski said, however, that “those days are over” because some of his younger relatives have moved on to college. There are four full-time employees including Rosinski, two maintenance staff and an administrator, Bady said.

“(The) people who worked here were positive forces,” said Rosinski.

The policy includes recommendations that staff post job listings through churches, recreation centers, print media, online and school districts for two weeks. The district usually hires employees in the spring, Rosinski said.

Rosinski said the hiring policy will not affect the makeup of the park district staff much because it will continue to hire talent.

The park district is bordered to the west and east by the North Shore Channel and Chicago Avenue and to the north and south by Greenleaf Street and Howard Street. The district collects real estate taxes within its boundaries, Rosinski said.

The hiring policy is a step in the right direction to making Ridgeville Park District more inclusive, Bady said. Even though the district makes up a relatively small proportion of Evanston, Bady said the board members are fiscally responsible and promote community events.

“You have to have cooperation in order to move forward. You can’t ask people to make too many changes at once. … You have to be diligent, but we also have to partner with each other,” Bady said. “I’d like to see a lot more cohesiveness with this board rather than divisiveness.”

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