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Pillsbury v. Martin

August 15, 2006

BRUCE L. PILLSBURY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
TIMOTHY W. MARTIN, IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY AS SECRETARY, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND INDIVIDUALLY, AND JULIE CURRY, INDIVIDUALLY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Richard Mills, U.S. District Judge

OPINION

This case is before the Court on the Defendants' motion for summary judgment.

At the end of the day, it is ALLOWED.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Bruce L. Pillsbury has asserted, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, an employment-related claim against Defendants Timothy W. Martin, Secretary for the Illinois Department of Transportation ("IDOT") and Julie Curry, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Rod Blagojevich. The Plaintiff contends that his termination was for political reasons in violation of the First Amendment. The Defendants allege that the Plaintiff is entitled to no relief because his former position is the kind of position for which politically-motivated personnel action is permitted.

A. Plaintiff's Employment History at IDOT Plaintiff

Bruce L. Pillsbury was employed as a Technical Advisor IV (Position No. PW 954-23-55-000-00-01) in January 1995. The Defendants allege that on November 16, 2002, the Technical Advisor IV position was reclassified under the previous Gubernatorial Administration by IDOT's Bureau of Personnel Management to a Technical Manager IV position (Position No. 414-23-55-000-00-02). The Plaintiff denies any assertion or inference that an IDOT position description exists for that position.

The Defendants allege that although the position number for the Plaintiff's position changed pursuant to the reclassification order, the duties inherent in Plaintiff's position did not change and the June 1, 1995 position description remained in effect for his Technical Manager IV position. The Plaintiff disputes this assertion, in that he denies the position description for June 1, 1995 was reliable or accurate with respect to the Technical Manager IV, or for the previous Technical Advisor IV position. On June 3, 2003, the Plaintiff was terminated from his Technical Manager IV position.

B. IDOT Position Description

The Defendants allege that the IDOT Bureau of Personnel Management maintains official, written position descriptions for all technical employees, including Technical Managers. The Plaintiff disputes that there exists any official written position description for a Technical Manager IV. The Defendants contend that the November 16, 2002 Position Reclassification Form, which converted the Technical Advisor IV position to the Technical Manager IV position, is a true and correct copy of the official IDOT Position Reclassification Form contained in IDOT files. The Plaintiff admits that the November 16, 2002 Position Conversion Form is an authentic copy of documents retained by IDOT, but he again denies that any written position description exists for a Technical Manager IV.

The Defendants allege that the position description for position number PW 414-23-55-000-00-02 corresponding to the Technical Manager IV position is a true and correct copy of the IDOT Position Description contained in IDOT files in effect from June 1, 1995 to July 1, 2004. The Plaintiff denies that a position description is attached to the affidavit submitted by the Defendants in support of this assertion, and that a position description existed for the position. Next, the Defendants claim that the position description for position number PW 954-23-55-000-00-01 corresponding to the Technical Advisor IV position is a true and correct copy of the official IDOT Position Description contained in IDOT files in effect from January 16, 1995 to June 1, 1995. Moreover, the position description for position number PW 954-23-55-000-00-01 corresponding to the Technical Advisor IV position is a true and correct copy of the official IDOT Position Description contained in IDOT files in effect from April 1, 1993 to January 16, 1995. While admitting the position descriptions are authentic public records, the Plaintiff denies any inference that they are accurate or reliable position descriptions with respect to his position.

The Defendants allege that based upon the duties inherent in the Technical Manager IV position, as reflected in the June 1, 1995 position description--which was in effect at the time of the Plaintiff's termination--the determination was made by the Illinois Department of Central Management Services ("CMS") that his position would be classified as Rutan-exempt.*fn1 This determination is indicated on the form attached to the official, written IDOT Position Description. The Plaintiff both partially admits and denies these allegations. He admits that the exhibit attached to the affidavit submitted by the Defendants is an authentic copy of a written IDOT Position Review/Determination form. The Plaintiff states that he denies the remaining allegations. The Plaintiff claims that some of the Defendants' assertions constitute legal conclusions. He denies that the duties of his job inherently rendered the position as Rutan-exempt.

The Defendants allege that as reflected in Exhibits 2, 3 and 4 of Karin Smith's affidavit, the duties inherent in the Technical Manager IV position have remained substantially the same since April 1, 1993. The Plaintiff denies this allegation. Next, the Defendants assert that the official personnel files for technical employees are maintained by the IDOT Bureau of Personnel Management or the district office and include, among other documents, employees' annual performance evaluations and official position descriptions. The Plaintiff partially admits this allegation, in that he acknowledges that official personnel files for technical employees are maintained by the IDOT Bureau of Personnel Management or the district office and include employees' annual performance evaluations. However, the Plaintiff disputes that the personnel file contained an official position description for Plaintiff's position.

The Defendants allege that if an employee believes the official IDOT Position Description is inaccurate, then under Section 10-4(C) of the official IDOT Personnel Policies Manual, he or she has the ability to request an audit of the position to determine the proper allocation of the duties in the position. The Plaintiff admits the Defendants have submitted an authentic copy of the IDOT personnel policies manual but disputes as legal conclusions the rest of the allegations. Next, the Defendants claim that IDOT considers all such official, written position descriptions to be public documents under Illinois law which may be obtained by a request under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. The Plaintiff disputes this allegation on the basis that he does not know what IDOT may or may not consider to be official.

C. Duties Inherent in Plaintiff's Former Technical Manager Position

The Defendants allege that the duties inherent in the Plaintiff's former Technical Manager IV position, detailed in the official IDOT Position Description that was in effect at the time of his termination, were as follows:

1. Official position description for Pillsbury's Technical Manager IV

Position in effect at the time of his termination This position reports to the District Engineer as do the EEO and Labor Compliance Section Manager, the Bureau Chief of Administrative Services and Local Roads and Streets and the Engineers of Program Development, Project Implementation and Operations.

The environment of this position is characterized by extreme political sensitivity which complicates the task of developing and maintaining consistent and cooperative relations with local agencies. This position must continually be aware of the sensitive relationship between the district and the remainder of the state.

The greatest challenge of this position is to provide timely assistance to local agencies in obtaining MFT funds for their use. Typical problems include maintaining status of transportation projects to keep the general public and state legislators apprised of progress.

This position personally serves as district spokesperson on the issue of allocation of Motor Fuel Tax (MFT) funds. The incumbent develops and maintains liaison functions with local agencies and municipalities to assist in understanding and maximizing additional funds as they become available as well as the development of transportation projects. S/He serves as liaison with county board members seeking information and assistance on the funding situation for their area, informs state legislators of the status of transportation projects in their areas, and performs other duties assigned by the District Engineer. Under general supervision, the incumbent has latitude to accomplish responsibilities of the position. Matters of a unique nature are referred to the supervisor with recommendations for solution. This position is constrained by departmental rules and regulations.

Internal contact includes the Executive Office and Bureau of Local Roads and Streets personnel. External contacts include the mayors, regional planning commissions, local agencies, state legislators and the general public to ensure effective coordination and monitoring of transportation programs and projects.

The effectiveness of this position is measured by the degree to which the harmonious relationships between the state and local agencies are achieved and the degree to which limited available resources address the wide array of needs in District Five.

Principal Accountabilities

1. Serves as district spokesperson on the allocation of MFT funds.

2. Provides effective liaison between local agencies and the Department through assistance to local agencies in the development of transportation projects.

3. Apprises state legislators of the status of transportation projects within their area of representation.

4. Performs other duties as assigned by the District Engineer.

5. Ensures compliance with departmental safety rules and regulations.

The Plaintiff disputes these allegations, stating that he denies the Defendants' legal conclusions.

2. Duties inherent in Pillsbury's Technical Manager IV

Position based on his signed 2002 IDOT performance review The Defendants allege that on January 10, 2003, the Plaintiff signed his IDOT performance review, and the relevant duties that he acknowledged performing during 2002 were as follows:

Bruce helped coordinate the Adopt-a-Highway Program this past year. This included monitoring, training, planning, implementing, and coordinating all activities in District 5.

Bruce spoke to several groups on the program, helping enhance community awareness of the program.

Bruce also served as the District HAZMIN coordinator. He was the District representative on the Product Review Committee in Central Operations. He also coordinated training for District personnel on hazardous materials and right-to-know.

Enhance community awareness and support for the Adopt-A-Highway program by developing resources, public speaking, and direct contact with civic, social, church sponsored, charitable and other Not for Profit groups.

Provide effective liaison and intergovernmental cooperation between local agencies, State and local officials, and the general public to ensure effective coordination and monitoring of transportation programs and projects.

Serve as the District Representative on the Product Review Committee in Central Operations, reviewing the products used in our work and getting material safety data ...


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