Bianco Ignored Department Rules and Promoted Brother, Where’s the Accountability?

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco. | File Photo

A wise person once said that “weak managers breed weak managers.” I tend to agree with this assessment. In the world of business, it can be costly but the business bears the burden of their own poor choices regarding who they put in charge of their operations. In the public arena, taxpayers are the ones who bear the burden.

This is equally true when it comes to private businesses as it relates to nepotism. Often their choices are worthy because it comes with an added sense of proprietorship, responsibility and accountability to ensure a family business succeeds. The business owners take a risk and when it doesn’t work out, they bear the impact of their choices.

It should work differently however, in the public arena. There is a code of ethics but you certainly would not know it from the way Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco takes care of his family on the public dime. As reported by the IE Voice in late October, Bianco has no concerns about nepotism as it relates to hiring his off-spring or promoting a sibling.

In October a reliable source confirmed Bianco had promoted his brother, Michael, to lieutenant over more qualified candidates almost as soon as he was sworn in as sheriff in 2019. And, just days ago, the public learned Bianco has promoted his brother Michael again, as if “Little Mikie” is the only candidate for advancement in the entire Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. This time Mike was elevated to captain of the Thermal Station. We all know the reason . . .. the higher the rank . . . the more money his brother takes home. I guess he is saying to other qualified candidates that filling his brother’s wallet “Trumps” their qualifications.

This is the type of right wing political maneuvering the nation experienced for four years at the national level and it is obvious this is the same level of thinking Bianco is using to run the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. I certainly have nothing against Michael and he may well be qualified. It is just a question of whether he was the most qualified. He might do a good job but did he deserve the opportunity to succeed or fail like other competitive candidates? From what I understand, he did not.

But, who can blame him for grabbing the gold ring when his brother Chad handed it to him merely because he felt empowered to do so.

The California Labor Code defines nepotism as “[T]he practice of an employee using his or her influence or power to aid or hinder another in the employment setting because of a personal relationship.” In this case, Bianco obviously did both.

Guidelines regarding nepotism are clearly detailed in Section 1051.2 (b) of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Standards Manual (DSM). It states, “Employees are prohibited from participating in, contributing to or recommending promotions, assignments, performance evaluations, transfers or other personnel decisions affecting an employee who is a relative or with whom they are involved in a personal or business relationship. Now, knowing Bianco as we do, we can bet he will offer some bumbling explanation about how he did none of these things–because he would certainly be in violation of established standards. But, I would wager we can be certain that he did. Why else would little brother Mikie be promoted twice in two years over others that many believe are better qualified?

Maybe Bianco will try and convince us that no one other than Little Mikie wanted to take the assignment in Thermal. That explanation would appear disingenuous as everyone knows pensions are calculated using a formula that includes years of service, and final average salary, among other factors.

Section I of the department’s DSM speaks to integrity stating, “We are dedicated to honesty and integrity in all our actions and will uphold our ethical beliefs regardless of the consequences. Our actions must be above reproach.”

I wonder if Bianco ever bothered to read the DSM despite its guidelines that state, “It is the responsibility and duty of every member to become thoroughly familiar with the contents of this manual.”

The one thing the DSM does not elaborate on is what are the consequences for violating DSM guidelines related to nepotism.

Apparently, it will be up to the voters to put an end to Bianco’s folly as sheriff and his continued disregard for ethical leadership.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.


Stephanie E. Williams is an award winning investigative reporter, editor and activist who has contributed to several Inland Empire publications. Williams spent more than thirty years as a middle-manager in the telecommunications industry before retiring to pursue her passion as a reporter and non-fiction writer. Beyond writing, Williams’ personal interests include stone-carving, drumming and sculpting.

S.E. WILLIAMS | Contributed

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