The City of Nashua has a little known and unenforced anti-nepotism policy. It exists, presumably, to keep spouses and relatives out of the same departments and to prevent family members from managing family members. A policy to prevent or eliminate favoritism, and essential to ensure fair employment practices.
It is especially critical in an assessing office where equity, fairness, and transparency are paramount for all residents. The Nashua Assessing Office has four assessors, and two are brothers – Greg and Gary Turgiss. The anti-nepotism policy was put in place in 2004, several years after the second brother, Greg, was hired.
For 15 years, the only two residential assessors were the Turgiss brothers. This hiring decision might have violated the Anti-nepotism policy in a minor way, but things have become more aggravated as time has passed. And this is how it happened: this set the stage for the exceedingly low bar and poor work product in the office.
Let’s take a quick look at what I consider to be unsettling, unethical behavior:
· Greg Turgiss became a certified supervisor in December 2018.
· When the former Chief Assessor was fired, the Mayor announced Greg would fill the hole and manage the Assessing Department, thereby supervising his brother.
· The City has since gone back on the Mayor’s announcement, denying that Greg is in charge. This is likely because the City now knows of its anti-nepotism policy.
Though the City claims Greg is not managing his brother in any way, I find that difficult to believe. Greg is the only supervisory assessor in the office, and my assumption is that he is in charge of the day-to-day operations. It would be a waste of taxpayer resources and against DRA regulations to have someone less qualified running the office.
We, the public, need better transparency on the organizational hierarchy of the Assessing Department. I have requested more information from the City on who is managing the day-to-day business in the office, and have never been given a clear answer.
The bottom line is, the City, per the Mayor’s statements, stands behind Greg, and they want him to be the supervisor of the office. That is the Mayor’s choice – but in that case, Gary has to go.
The Mayor’s decision to let the brother run the staff meetings, set the workload, attend the Assessor meetings and sign off on a majority of the state-required forms is in direct violation of Nashua’s anti-nepotism policy. We have to remember this policy exists to ensure the integrity of the departments is maintained, and that means preventing any office in City Hall from becoming a family business, like Turgiss & Turgiss Assessing.
Editors Note: Laurie also writes at Good-Gov.org