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Published: Wednesday, 2/20/2008

Monroe County human resources chief hired - again

BY MARK REITER
BLADE STAFF WRITER

MONROE - Last month Monroe County commissioners withdrew an offer to Frank Spreeman to become the county's human resources director.

However, the board reversed its decision and last week agreed to hire him.

Mr. Spreeman, a county resident who is retired from the Ford Motor Co. in Milan, Mich., where he was human resources director, was given the job in a 6-to-3 vote by the board.

However, issues that caused the board on Jan. 29 to rescind the offer - the experience of the applicant and his relationship with Chairman William Sisk - lingered at last week's meeting.

The appointment is contingent on Mr. Spreeman undergoing background checks. A $65,000 annual salary is being suggested for the position.

The hiring was put on hold last month after Commissioner Jerry Oley, one of three commissioners to vote against the hiring, said Mr. Sisk should have made it known to the board that he and Mr. Spreeman are long-time friends.

Mr. Oley also questioned whether Mr. Spreeman lacked the five years of governmental experience and labor-law background that the county wanted.

A subcommittee of the board - Henry Lievens, Dale Zorn, and Connie Velliquette - and county Administrator Charles Londo recommended Mr. Spreeman for the job after screening applications submitted by 66 candidates.

In an interview, Mr. Oley said Mr. Sisk should have recused himself from taking any action, including involvement in the subcommittee, to avoid any appearance of impropriety.

"Mr. Sisk selected three board members he wanted to serve on this panel," he said. "This special panel in itself was out of the ordinary."

Mr. Oley also said that other applicants who have more governmental experience were not given consideration for the job by the panel.

However, Mr. Sisk said he deliberately avoided any involvement in the selection process and the subcommittee worked independently without interference by the board.

"I don't think there was any impropriety," he said.

Mr. Sisk also said that of the 13 applicants who met the criteria for the position, only one person met the experience qualifications and that applicant didn't show up for an interview with the panel.

He said the panel subsequently pared the qualifications for the job.

In other action, the commissioners also voted to increase the fees for the board's legal advisers, Lennard, Graham and Goldsmith.

The law firm's retainer was increased from $65,000 for 600 hours of work to $87,500 for 700 hours of work.

Additional work will increase from $125 an hour to $150 an hour.

In 2007, the law firm billed 852 hours for legal work done for the county.

Contact Mark Reiter at:

markreiter@theblade.com

or 734-241-3610.



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