Judge disciplines Macomb Co Clerk over backlog

A judge gives Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger an ultimatum -- fix the massive backlog of filings in her office or face possible discipline.

Once again it seems Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger has picked a fight with someone in county government.

"It's their way or no way," said her attorney Frank Cusumano. "Clerk Spranger got elected on a platform of providing efficiency."

But in a letter to the clerk, Macomb County's Chief Judge James Biernet says the clerk's office is anything but efficient. He says Spranger's office has a backlog of nearly 3,000 e-fillings, criminal histories are not processed into the LIEN system, and vacant positions are not being filled.

"She believes that there's been a deliberate work slowdown," Cusumano said. "Because she's rocked the boat here in Macomb County. She's trying to bring efficiency and to bring staffing levels to bring maximum value to the taxpayers."

About 90 employees of Spranger are members of the AFSCME union. The clerk's position is that she should be the one to hire and fire her staff and not have to go through the county's HR or involve the union.

"I went over to the vital records department yesterday. It is horrible, the lines and the people waiting," said Donna Cangemi, president of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 411.

Cusumano said that Spranger believes there has been a work slowdown.

The chief judge gave the clerk until Thursday to fix the problems in the letter.  If she doesn't, the court is looking to take appropriate measures.

"We've known about this for some time, it's a completely accurate letter," Cangemi said.

Exactly what those measures are the judge can use to force compliance, remain to be seen.

FOX 2: "Is this just a personality dispute?"

"I am not sure if this is a personality dispute," Cusumano said. "I know that the public safety unions in the coalition of the rest of county government have locked arms and they've got a death grip."

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