Brin: Tossing out “a few bad eggs” to make office more accountable

Lake County Circuit Court Clerk Keith Brin assists a customer with her paperwork  at the Court Clerk’s Office.  – Lake County Circuit Court office photo

by Long Hwa-shu

Lake County Circuit Court Clerk Keith Brin said Tuesday he had fired several employees for misconduct and habitual absenteeism to maintain “the highest level of public trust” in his office.

In one case, he said an employee was dismissed after the person “harbored a criminal fugitive and physically assaulted a U.S. marshal when he arrived to arrest the fugitive.”

In another case, a newly hired clerk was fired for “calling in sick 24 times” during “the critical training for new clerks” and for making “significant amount of courtroom errors.”

Enough is enough to business as usual,” said Keith Brin, Lake County Circuit Court Clerk. “(I refuse) to turn a blind eye at employees who had continued attendance issues, on-going disciplinary issues or committed gross misconduct.”

Another employee, he said, was fired for “calling in sick 13 times, almost exclusively on Mondays and Fridays during the first 12 months of employment.”

In a press release, Brin also pointed out that recently “a small group of former employees and their AFSCME (American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees) allies have been making false claims” about him and “his effort to end the status quo and business as usual in the Circuit Clerk’s office.”

He said while he “has attempted to keep the focus on the positive results of his effort, but the need has arisen” for him “to set the record straight.”

Brin, who is in his first term as circuit clerk and running for reelection, explained why he “took action to clean up the office.”

“I believe that Lake County taxpayers are in no way obligated to foot the bill and provide life-long employment and benefits for employees who choose not to show up for work, harbor fugitives and fail to perform their duties,” he stated.

“Enough is enough to business as usual,” he said, pointing out that he “refused to turn a blind eye at employees who had continued attendance issues, on-going disciplinary issues or committed gross misconduct.”

He gave these other examples:

  • A criminal clerk was first disciplined for posting ex-parte communication on her Facebook page on a case where she was the court clerk. She was terminated several months later for referring the uniformed law enforcement officers in open court “idiots and incompetent” within earshot of (a) village trustee who voiced concern.
  • One terminated clerk had a two-volume disciplinary file from a 10-year history of on-going disciplinary issues relating to poor performance, lack of collegiality, gross insubordination, poor attendance, and failure to adhere to policies and procedures.
  • A new employee was terminated for having been tardy more than 14 times and called in sick 25 times during first year.

Brin stressed that the court clerk’s office “is funded by the taxpayers, and a result we are to hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Any employee who cannot or will not respect that public trust, he said, “will not be working in my office.”

“Our office is filled with fine, dedicated employees who serve the public tirelessly, and I will not allow their efforts to be tarnished by a few bad eggs,” he added.

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