Earlier this year, Indiana adopted new nepotism laws for local government agencies. Author of the legislation, Rep. Kevin Mahan (R-Hartford City), said, “We’ve had nepotism policy at the state level for some time now, and I believe what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. State and local employees alike should be held to the same standards when it comes to government agencies favoring employees’ relatives over other eligible candidates. It’s not appropriate at any level.”
And while Multi-Township EMS is not a government agency, it has its own policies that, until March of this year, forbade couples involved in romantic relationships to work together. It also prohibited one of those parties from supervising a spouse or significant other. But since the state has moved forward in this area, MTEMS seems to be back peddling.
StaceyPageOnline.com has obtained an employee roster for MTEMS showing a clear violation of the organization’s own nepotism policy.
Since 2006, the MTEMS policy regarding nepotism stated under Section 200-28, Article I(B), “In general, MTEMS will not permit two staff members involved in a romantic relationship to work together directly or for one to supervise.” Such a violation would be “subject to discipline or change of the scope of practice of duties.”
On Oct. 15, 2009, Heather Pepple of Fort Wayne, was hired on as a full-time paramedic. On March 1, 2010, her husband, Mark Pepple, also of Fort Wayne, was hired as MTEMS clinical manager. Both are still full-time employees of MTEMS in their same capacities.
In March 2012, the policy and procedure handbook changed and eliminated the verbiage that existed at least from 2006 to March 2012. Now, the MTEMS nepotism rules are more lax, simply saying that employees in romantic relationships must notify their division’s commander. The division commander will then review the working relationship “and determine if it creates a potential conflict of interest or an adverse impact on supervision, safety operations or morale.”
The current guidelines also say that one of the parties involved in the relationship will not be involved in the hiring process. Heather Pepple is a current member of the MTEMS hiring committee, but it’s not clear if she was a member of the committee when her husband was hired in 2010.
Roger Schori, president of the MTEMS board of directors, was contacted but has not responded to our inquiry for answers on the board’s role with MTEMS’ hiring policies or writing of the policies.
MTEMS Human Resources Official Missy Sorensen was also contacted regarding hiring and nepotism policies. Although she did not respond, Mark Pepple offered the following response via email: “Multi-Township EMS does not publicly comment on personnel and policy issues. Any official inquires about issues that involve Multi-Township EMS should be directed towards Scott Sigerfoos or myself. The other avenue that you have is to attend our (sic) monthly board meetings with your questions. Immediately cease contacting any employees of Multi-Township EMS to comment on any of the above issues.”
MTEMS board of directors includes Schori, Ron Robinson, Kim Finch, Gary Sponseller, Sheila Bruner, Jerry Kammerer and Dean Rhoades.
The board meets at noon on the second Wednesday of every month. Meetings are generally held at the Leesburg Fire Department and are open to the public.