May 28, 2010

Municipal judge sues city over deputy clerk appointment

The city is being sued by an unlikely source: Its own municipal judge.

Judge Mark Nielsen filed suit against the city and AFSCME Local 67 in February over the appointment of a deputy clerk. The case revolves around two applicants for the job in Racine's municipal court. Nielsen interviewed both candidates and selected an employee from the Racine Police Department for the job. Local 67 opposed the hire because the applicant didn't follow property procedures in applying for the job. That left only one candidate, who the union said should get the job.

Nielsen disagreed, arguing the union's rules shouldn't overrule his authority to appoint a deputy clerk.

"The process of collective bargaining, however, does not empower the City administration to barter away the authority of a judge," Nielsen wrote in court records.

The result is that two city employees - both applicants are Local 67 members - are in limbo until the case is resolved. Judge Richard Kreul is presiding over the case.

Deputy City Attorney Scott Letteney is representing the city and Attorney Aaron Halstead is representing AFSCME.