Personnel Policy Board
Hon. M. Richard Geiger, Chair (via telephone)
Hon. Carol Ronning Kapsner
Hon. Ronald Hilden
Hon. John T. Paulson
Mike Sandal, Staff
Renee Barnaby, Scribe
Chair Geiger called the meeting to order at 10:10 a.m. The first item on the agenda was the approval of the Minutes of the May 22, 2006 meeting.
It was moved by Rod Olson, seconded by Gladys Schmitt, to approve the Minutes of the May 22, 2006 meeting. The motion carried.
Policy 120, Veterans' Preference
Chair Geiger drew the members' attention to comments received on Policy 120, Veterans' Preference. Mike Sandal said when the electronic notice was sent out to the employees, paragraph IV(C) was inadvertently omitted from the draft. It was the consensus of the Board to re-circulate the policy in its entirety for additional comments.
Draft Policy on Political Activity
Chair Geiger then referred the Board to the next item on the agenda, a draft policy on political activity. Mike Sandal said the Administrative Council requested the Personnel Policy Board draft a policy on political activity. Mr. Sandal had previously taken the draft policy to the TCAP group and their comments are included in the meeting materials.
Kurt Schmidt suggested paragraph B is contradictory. It states no employee shall hold a partisan elective office but that an employee may be a candidate for local or non-partisan offices. It is possible to have local, partisan offices so it seems to be contradictory.
Mike Sandal responded the intent of that language was not to prohibit people from running for school board, city commission, etc.
Mr. Schmidt said the state legislature is a partisan office and wondered why it would be prohibited.
Rod Olson said the TCAP group specifically suggested employees not run for partisan offices because the candidate would be required to take a political stance on issues as a court employee.
Justice Kapsner suggested there would be a problem with a judicial employee as a member of the legislative branch.
Gladys Schmitt added serving as a legislator would be time consuming and would involve more time than just the legislative session. Kurt Schmidt responded that argument would be the same for school board, county commission, city commission, or any other local office.
Chair Geiger suggested a scenario that might be difficult and awkward. He said if a local clerk runs for a legislative position and it is contested, the court has to decide the outcome of the election by way of recount or ruling on some legality. If it turns out that whoever wins will determine the majority in that certain house, it could be a difficult situation for everyone and could create problems.
It was moved by Gladys Schmitt, seconded by Rod Olson, to adopt the draft policy on political activity.
Chair Geiger referred the Board to paragraph C of the proposed policy referring to political activity during scheduled work hours. He said the language under C(2), as written, should be prohibited at all times, not just during scheduled work hours or on court property, and therefore should become paragraph D.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Gladys Schmitt, to make paragraph C(2) a new paragraph D to read as follows: "No employee shall use official authority or position, directory or indirectly, to influence or attempt to influence any other employee in the court system to become a member of any political organization or to take part in any political activity." The motion carried.
It was moved by Justice Kapsner, seconded by Rod Olson, to change the last sentence in paragraph B to read, "An employee may be a candidate for local, non-partisan offices..." so it is clear that both of those are requirements. The motion carried with one opposition.
It was the consensus of the Board to make grammatical changes to subparagraphs B(1), (2) and (3).
It was moved by Kurt Schmidt, seconded by Gladys Schmitt, to strike the word "scheduled" from the first sentence in paragraph C. The motion carried.
It was moved by Kurt Schmidt, seconded by Gladys Schmitt, to strike the words "while on duty" in the first sentence under Intent, and insert the words "during work hours." The motion carried.
It was the consensus of the Board to strike the word "Court" from the second sentence under Intent, and insert the word "Judicial."
It was moved by Kurt Schmidt, seconded by Gladys Schmitt, to table the matter and refer the draft policy with the changes to Jim Ganje requesting that he provide a written analysis for the Board to consider at a future meeting.
It was the consensus of the Board that when referring to political activity, we are referring to both partisan and non-partisan activity.
Kurt Schmidt inquired if the policy would prohibit activities such as serving as district chair or district secretary within a local political office. Mike Sandal referred him to paragraph A.
Mr. Schmidt said he misunderstood and, with the consent of the second, withdrew the motion.
It was moved by Gladys Schmitt, seconded by Rod Olson, to table the proposed policy and to submit it with the changes discussed to Jim Ganje for his review. The motion carried with one opposition.
Proposed Amendments to Policy 104, Nepotism
Mike Sandal said Sally Holewa requested the Board review the nepotism policy. Mr. Sandal has drafted amendments to the policy, building into it the flexibilities already provided for by statute, as well as addressing the issues identified in Ms. Holewa's letter.
It was moved by Rod Olson, seconded by Kurt Schmidt, to consider the changes to Policy 104.
Mr. Olson inquired what would happen if a husband and wife worked in the same office and one of them was appointed supervisor. Under the proposed changes, someone else would have to supervise their spouse and inquired what would happen in the smaller offices. Mike Sandal responded when a supervisory relationship is determined to exist, direct supervisory responsibility must be assigned to another supervisor. In the smaller offices, direct supervision could either be the trial court manager or the director, depending on the situation. There needs to be some sort of mechanism whereby there is another party involved. It would be up to the unit to determine exactly what that mechanism would be and how it would work.
After further discussion, the motion carried and the policy will be sent out for comment.
Elimination of Steps B and A
Mike Sandal said earlier in the year, the Board discussed eliminating Steps B and A. At that time, the Board was reluctant to reduce the steps because it was early in the biennium. After several months into the biennium, Susan Sisk is confident we have the funds available to eliminate Steps B and A. Mr. Sandal pointed out that if Steps B and A are eliminated, there will be salary compression among employees. However, by eliminating Steps B and A, we will have fully-implemented the pay and classification plan Mr. Bjorklund presented to the court a few years ago.
Rod Olson believes it is good for the system to fully fund the salaries and would make it easier to compete with other states and agencies when hiring new employees.
Kurt Schmidt said it has been the court's goal all along, and we will always have the issue of compression.
It was moved by Rod Olson, seconded by Kurt Schmidt, to eliminate Steps B and A effective November 1, payable December 1. The motion carried, and it will be forwarded to the Supreme Court with the Personnel Policy Board's recommendation that it be adopted.
Programmer Analyst Class Specifications
The next item on the agenda was a request to update the language in the class specifications for the programmer analyst series. Mike Sandal said the proposed changes update the terminology used and provide a more generic format so changes can be made to technology and software without having to routinely change the class specifications. The changes before the Board do not affect pay grade.
Mr. Sandal said historically, the Board had reviewed verbiage and grammatical changes, but court policies do not require the Board to take action on such changes. He asked the Board if they wanted to continue to review cleanup language and updates to the class specifications.
Kurt Schmidt suggested, and Gladys Schmitt agreed, that as long as the changes do not affect pay grade, the responsibility of reviewing the changes could be given to the Director of Human Resources. If it is something that is going to result in a possible pay grade adjustment, then the changes could come before the Board.
Mr. Sandal commented that if there is a change in the qualifications or a change in supervision, those types of issues would have an immediate impact on pay grade and would need to come before the Board.
Chair Geiger feels it its important to use more uniform language among the classifications when possible and suggested the Board establish some criteria.
It was Justice Kapsner's opinion that this Board is the voice of the employees and believes the Board should have an oversight function so it is aware of the requests being made.
It was moved by Rod Olson, seconded by Kurt Schmidt, to adopt the proposed changes to the Programmer Analyst I, II and III class specifications. The motion carried and the series will be forwarded to the Supreme Court for consideration. Chair Geiger suggested Mr. Sandal develop criteria on how these types of issues could be handed in the future and be put on the agenda for a future meeting.
Notice of Grievance by Dennis Herbeck
Mike Sandal said attachment 7 to the meeting materials is a letter from Dennis Herbeck wherein he is filing a grievance under Policy 108. The issue was reviewed by the Board in October 1999 and was denied. The issue was raised again in a letter to State Court Administrator Sally Holewa asking her to reconsider the salary disparity between Mr. Herbeck and his colleagues. Ms. Holewa responded stating she did not have the authority to overturn a prior decision of this Board.
After discussion, it was moved by Kurt Schmidt, seconded by Justice Kapsner, to deny the appeal based on the fact that it was addressed and denied by the Board in 1999, and even if it could be considered, there is no policy that is available that would allow some form of equitable pay adjustment. The motion carried.
Mike Sandal said Judge Hilden is retiring November 1 and his term on the Board expires December 31. It the was the consensus of the Board to leave the position vacant for the December meeting. Mr. Sandal also informed the Board that Justice Kapsner and Gladys Schmitt's terms will also be expiring December 31.
The next meeting will be December 5.