Tax Dollars Hard At Work*****

When the Human Resource department receives a subpoena  how should it be answered? Heard something the other day that I found disturbing. The human resource department received a subpoena for records of an employee here in the city. The subpoena from what I understand asked for salary, benefits, pension, and so on. As you can surmise this is a divorce case not the first employee getting a divorce in the city sure wont be the last. I could be wrong , but I thought in these types of cases the city gives the information end of subject. Well dear taxpayers not the case, apparently this got sent to the attorney who drafted a reply denying the information and asking the judge to make that person pay $1,500.00.

Since when does the city a non party get involved in a divorce? Does the same thing happen when a judgement for garnishments come to the HR department? How many thousands of dollars spent replying, denying, and going before a judge in any of these cases? Why is the city taking sides or even getting involved in someone’s divorce? Don’t we as a city have enough to deal with at this time? If the city decided they want to come in on the side of the employee then why send the bill to the person who has the right to ask for the information. Send the attorney bill to the employee. By the way all the information asked for canbe FOIA’ed.


8 thoughts on “Tax Dollars Hard At Work*****”

  1. Normally, I’m in accord with the things stated on this blog. I may also be in this instance, but I don’t think we have enough information to be sure. A FOIA request and a subpoena are two different things. A FOIA request can be made by anyone, but a subpoena is a court order which can also be issued by an attorney because all attorneys are considered officers of the court. I would agree that if the only information requested has to do with salary, benefits, pension, etc. and other public information, there should have been no problem in providing the information.

    Since no one posting here has actually seen the subpoena, we can’t be sure that other information that would not normally be released under FOIA wasn’t included in the request. In that instance, the city’s attorney would be consulted to try and quash the subpoena. The judge may or may not agree with the city’s argument to quash (or deny) the subpoena. If the judge doesn’t agree with the city’s stance, then the information would have to be provided by the city even if it would not have been releaseable under FOIA. Not all judges will agree with whatever the attorney issuing the subpoena wants and, therefore, may agree with the city. It isn’t uncommon for attorneys to ask that their costs incurred in the review of a subpoena be covered by the requesting party if the requesting party doesn’t prevail in the action. A subpoena cannot just be ignored; the city must respond in some manner.

    It may be protocol for all subpoenas delivered to the city to be reviewed by the city attorney. It’s not an uncommon way for subpoenas to be handled in large organizations. I don’t know if this is what the city does, I’m just saying it wouldn’t be unusual to do so.

    As for FOIA’s, I’m astounded that attorneys are used to review routine requests for information. The FOIA law is not so complex that it couldn’t be handled by a city employee (although some of you out there think we’re all unqualified dunces). I believe an attorney should only be brought in when requests are complex, involve fine points of law or are, in some way, highly controversial. Even then we should err on the side of releasing information, rather than hiding it. There are some obvious types of info that shouldn’t be shared with the public (employee social security numbers, medical information, addresses of police officers, etc), but the FOIA law provides for the denial of requests in those instances.

    Again, I’m not saying I disagree with you Kathy, I just think that we should know exactly what the subpoena requestedand what the city’s normal procedure is before we chastize HR for the actions they took. I think this administration relies far too heavily on attorneys when departments heads could handle many issues such as this just fine on their own.


  2. I believe that the City has right to charge for processing the request – but $1,500 seems excessive. This is a common request in HR offices. However, after siting through a few council meetings – I’m convinced the proceses and procedures are not updated and reviewed regularly. Plus city has an HR dept of 1 person – so they be requried to send it out for review. However, I would have expected corporation council to approve. Council should request a review and update of policies. Just cutting this sort of waste can
    provide substantial cost savings.


  3. Lips

    This just might be the protocol send everything to the lawyer to answer. If that’s the case then it’s warented and this might just be something ouncil might like to look into. If this is not protocol then one should be made.


  4. Whatever goes on in this city while this mayor is in this city will never be kosher.Why even waste our time trying to change things.The council members need to be stronger and demand for everything they need to know instead of just of raising their eyebrows shaking heads.Come on council heads lets get the answers from the ones you are asking . Lets please do the job that we as citizens are asking you council to do Thank you


    Ok. Let’s take this real slow. HR receives these types of questionaires all the time. What are the rules? Uh, fill it out and send it back. Whether it is for a divorce, credit app, or whatever, that part is not their business. Fill it out, send it back. Simple.
    Who in the hell sent it off to Acho? And he wrote a letter denying the right to that info AND charging for it? Who told him to do that?? OMG! Will someone stop this???
    And who would have guessed the HR Dept would have chosen to make the decision to send it off to the attorney? Send the bill to the person in the HR Dept that didn’t follow the rules. This is not regular protocol, there was no reason to do that except to cause more trouble for someone trying to collect what they feel is owed to them, for whatever reason.
    The attorney, HR Dept, or any other part of our city should have had nothing to do with it except fill it out and send it back!
    Stop these maniacs from using the city attorneys and charging us for such unnecessary fees. And stop making the people in the City of Dearborn Heights look like a bunch of brainless boobs!


  6. Who is “the attorney” referenced here? Our Corporation Counsel?

    Also, what is the $1500 charge supposed to cover?


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