City Council Chair Pam Ladd said Tuesday night she is willing to step in and referee the latest dispute between Mayor Ron Littlefield and City Judges Sherry Paty and Russell Bean.
Judge Paty sent an email to the council members, saying the administration was moving ahead with a plan to convert the City Court Clerk's office to a paperless system, though the judges asked that the process not start until a new mayor can appoint a new City Court clerk.
Council members took up the controversy at the close of the City Council meeting, and Councilwoman Deborah Scott asked Finance Director Daisy Madison if the process could not start with another department.
Ms. Madison said it was, "but it's not my call. The administration sets the priorities."
Councilman Jack Benson said when a motion was made to approve a firm to move a number of city departments to a paperless system that council members recommended that the administration not start with City Court since the judges wanted to hold up. But he said the motion was advisory and "the mayor has the right to do as he pleases."
Councilman Andrae McGary asked Assistant City Attorney Phil Noblett if the council could withhold funding for the project if it chooses, and he said the council could.
Councilman Peter Murphy said it made sense to start with City Court since he said paperwork from a number of offices - including the police and Neighborhood Services - wind up there.
Ms. Ladd said she would like to see the administration and the judges sit down and try to work out a solution, and she said she would be glad to sit in on the meeting if necessary.
She said, "Let's see if they can resolve whatever concerns there are and get this moving."
Judge Paty said in her email to the council:
Dear Council Members,
I am forwarding an email and attachment regarding meetings that are being set up between Armedia and the City Court Clerk’s office. As you will recall, you approved this contract with Armedia with the understanding that City Court and the Clerk’s office would not be the first department to implement this initiative. It appears to be moving forward without our approval nor the approval of the Council. Judge Bean and I made it clear that we do not want to implement any paperless initiative until we have a new administration in place. We also stated that Armedia should begin with another department other than City Court since this company has never implemented a paperless initiative in a Court system. I wanted to make you aware of these meetings, since this is in complete disregard of the conditions upon which you approved this contract.
City Court Judge
She was responding to an email from Ken Hymes of the Armedia firm chosen to implement the process.
All, attached is the proposed interview schedule for the week of Feb. 25. We are planning to conclude interviews in an hour (or less). I’ve tried to arrange the schedule to fall within your standard working hours but with time set aside in the morning to “settle in” before we start! As was discussed earlier today, this schedule is flexible and can be modified to accommodate work schedules, prior commitments, etc. Please feel free to suggest appropriate changes that will allow us to canvas all the identified persons between Monday and Thursday. Once we get this finalized, I hope you can put these interviews on the calendars of each individual so the time is booked.
We understand we will have a room to interview in/work in that is inside the Court Clerks area, and we will bring our projector and hotspot to use that week.
Thanks in advance for your help with planning and scheduling the interviews and logistics! Looking forward to seeing you on Feb. 25. Regards,
Judge Paty said she and Judge Bean will be at Judicial Conference at the time their educational session was planned.
She said, "I am not opposed to the clerk's office going paperless, but it should not be started during this administration without a permanent City Court clerk in place."
Mayor Littlefield and the judges have clashed over a number of issues since Judge Paty accused the mayor of trying to interfere in her handling of a case involving a Hamilton Place Mall pet store.