Macomb commissioners face “some pretty dire options” to fix problems at clerk’s office

Nov 15, 2017
Originally published on November 14, 2017 6:49 pm

Macomb County Commissioners are turning to a rather obscure state law to help them get the county clerk's office back on track, and possibly remove County Clerk Karen Spranger.

The commissioners hope this state law will force Spranger to answer questions about the way she's running her office, and about the many problems that have piled up since the Republican clerk took office in January.

Macomb County Commissioner Leon Drolet joined Stateside today to give us the latest.

Listen to the full conversation above, or read highlights below.

On how the office ran under former Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh

​"I would say the clerk’s office was kind of invisible under Carmella Sabaugh, in the sense that there really was never any problems. The elections would run as one would expect elections to run and the clerk’s office was uncontroversial and efficient.”

On how the office runs now under Macomb County Clerk Karen Spranger

“It’s controversial and inefficient. Actually, you learn a lot about the clerk’s office when it’s not working properly. For example, positions are not being filled when there’s vacancies in the office. There are much longer waits for citizens when they want to get a record… the courts are way behind in having their paperwork filed, which is causing a lot of problems for those involved in the court system, whether it’s attorneys or citizens in other capacities. The elections seem to be running well and I know the clerk’s office staff – they’re somewhat besieged – is doing the best they can under very difficult circumstances. But there’s a lot of things that just aren’t running the way they used to run.”

On what state law MCL 46.11 does

“It’s a state law I’ve never heard of in all my years of being involved in politics, but apparently it allows for an elected body to demand a report under oath of an administrator, including a clerk, to answer questions under oath. Specifically, I think the county board of commissioners now hopes that perhaps under oath, with very specific questions being asked, we have a better shot of getting answers that are understandable.”

“… But frankly, if Clerk Spranger does not comply with the requirements of this law, there is a possibility that she could be legally removed.”

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