Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger’s attorney says the Board of Commissioners should not continue to blame her for a backlog in criminal reports following a court order in December.

Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger’s attorney says the Board of Commissioners should not continue to blame her for a backlog in criminal reports following a court order in December.

File photo by Joshua Gordon

Spranger’s attorney claims union is to blame for backlog of criminal reports

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published February 20, 2018

MOUNT CLEMENS — Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger’s attorney maintains that county officials should not still be blaming the clerk for a backlog in paperwork, while a county commissioner insists the problem exists because of the past year of work by Spranger.

Spranger’s attorney, Frank Cusumano Jr., issued a statement Feb. 9 in response to comments made by Commissioner Kathy Tocco, D-Fraser, in January blaming Spranger for the continued backlog in Law Enforcement Information Network criminal history reports.

Spranger met before the Board of Commissioners last November to talk about the backlog, which at that time was around 4,400 reports behind dating back to August. Several commissioners at that time, including Tocco, said that presented a public safety concern.

In December, St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Kelly ordered Spranger not to interfere with four of her employees and allow the county’s Human Resources Department to fill 14 current openings in her office, which county officials said would help with addressing the backlog.

Cusumano said Spranger has been “hands off” since that order and yet the backlog has continued or gotten worse in the hands of LEIN Terminal Agency Coordinator Lisa Emerson, one of the employees Kelly ordered Spranger not to interfere with.

Emerson has been leading unionized workers in LEIN work since Dec. 11, Cusumano said; therefore, Spranger should not still be getting blamed for the backlog.

“That’s three months ago. Commissioner Kathy Tocco knows this, yet still clings to the ‘blame Spranger’ shtick developed by the UAW and their allies in county government,” Cusumano said in his statement. “The public should now see that the ‘blame Spranger’ campaign was just that, a smear campaign to protect unionized workers.”

The issue of the LEIN backlog was first brought up in a letter last fall from the Macomb County Circuit Court to Spranger asking her to clear the backlog of LEIN reports, as well as nearly 3,000 e-filing court bundles.

As county clerk, Spranger also serves as clerk for the circuit court.

The letter led to Spranger’s report last November with the Board of Commissioners, where Spranger said a lack of employees was to blame for the backlog.

The board was updated on the backlog at the Feb. 15 meeting, with the LEIN backlog being around 2,400 reports that date back to October. Still, Tocco said that while Spranger is not overseeing the backlog now, there is a backlog because of her actions throughout 2017.

“The backlog accrued prior to the court action, so the statements that the union created the backlog or the hiring order caused this is not true,” Tocco said. “I still believe they are far behind, and that is not acceptable.”

Cusumano said all the moves by the county are to please the union, despite how it has affected Spranger’s ability to do her job.

“It is incredible that anyone can place the blame anywhere except where it has always belonged, with the UAW supervisor involved,” Cusumano said. “Spranger cannot be responsible where she has been ordered by the court to let the UAW and Emerson handle it.”

Issues between Spranger and Macomb County came to a head last summer when Spranger filed a lawsuit against the county asking a judge to define her job duties, among other requests. The suit was eventually moved from Macomb County to Kelly in St. Clair County because of Spranger’s role with the Macomb County Circuit Court.

In September, Kelly granted the county the right to file a countersuit against Spranger, which questions her residency on her election affidavit in 2016. The county alleges Spranger lied on her affidavit about living on Hudson Avenue in Warren and should be removed from office.

Warren city records show water service has been turned off at the home owned by Spranger since April 2014, and the county also alleges that Spranger used her Michigan Bridge Card in western Wayne County exclusively between November 2011 and the end of 2016.

Cusumano motioned to have himself removed as Spranger’s attorney on both cases in January, citing a financial burden on his business from unpaid legal fees, as well as a breakdown in the attorney-client relationship.

Kelly denied the motion because he was concerned about Spranger’s case going forward if Cusumano withdrew. Cusumano said he will file a motion for reconsideration.

A message seeking comment was left for Emerson.