This opinion will be unpublished and
may not be cited except as provided by
Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2000).
STATE OF MINNESOTA
IN COURT OF APPEALS
Becky A. Putzke,
City of Brainerd, et al.,
Filed October 30, 2001
City of Brainerd
Timothy W. Andrew, Aaron R. Bransky, Brown, Andrew & Signorelli, P.A., 300 Alworth Building, 306 West Superior Street, Duluth, MN 55802 (for relator)
Julie Fleming-Wolfe, 1010 Degree of Honor Building, 325 Cedar Street, St. Paul, MN 55101 (for respondents)
Considered and decided by Toussaint, Chief Judge, Kalitowski, Judge, and Klaphake, Judge.
In the summer of 2000, relator Becky A. Putzke applied for the open position of chief of police for respondent, the City of Brainerd. She was certified by respondent, the Brainerd Joint Police & Fire Civil Service Commission (commission), as one of the top three applicants to be placed on an “eligibility list” for the position. Under its own rules, the commission could only choose to hire an individual from the eligibility list. John Bolduc, another candidate whose name was also placed on the list, asked to be withdrawn from consideration for the position in November 2000, and he then asked to be reinstated for consideration in December 2000. The commission allowed Bolduc to be reinstated to the eligibility list and eventually hired him for the position.
Relator contends that the commission’s decision violates its own rules and Minn. Stat. § 419.06 (2000). Because we conclude that the commission’s appointment process comported with applicable state law and local rules, we affirm.
If a police commission has made a discretionary decision to appoint an officer to fill a vacancy, and if that decision has been made pursuant to [Minn. Ch. 419 and local rules], a police commission’s decision will not be disturbed by an appellate court absent proof of fraudulent, arbitrary, or unreasonable actions by the commission.
Anderson v. Police Civil Serv. Comm’n, 414 N.W.2d 389, 391 (Minn. 1987) (citation omitted). Minn. Stat. §§ 419.01-.181 (2000) provides for the establishment and duties of police civil service commissions. Specifically, after identifying and testing qualified applicants for an open position, a commission must certify “the three names standing highest on the appropriate list to fill any vacancy.” Minn. Stat. § 419.06(7). Consistent with this statute, the commission’s rules provide:
A. Employment lists shall continue in force for two (2) years, or until a new examination is given for that class of employment. The Commission may extend the list beyond two (2) years.
B. Whenever the Brainerd City Council shall determine that there is a vacancy to be filled, the Commission shall certify to the City Clerk the top three (3) names appearing on the eligibility list.
Joint Police & Fire Civil Serv. Comm’n., Section IV (1973).
Generally, it is within the commission’s discretion to interpret its own rules, consistent with state law. See Anderson, 414 N.W.2d at 391. Neither chapter 419 nor the commission’s rules address the circumstances under which an applicant may voluntarily remove and then request reinstatement of his or her name to a list of eligible applicants. The commission’s rules do state that applicant names will remain on the eligibility list for two years. Joint Police & Civil Serv. Comm’n, Section IV (1973). Thus, we conclude that the rules did not mandate removal of Bolduc’s name from the list at his request, nor did it prohibit reinstatement of his name, at his request.
Because we must affirm the commission’s appointment decision absent “fraudulent, arbitrary, or unreasonable actions,” we do so in this instance. See Anderson, 414 N.W.2d at 391. We also note that there is no evidence of fraud. The job applicant pool was obtained through an independent recruiting company and the commission’s actions comported with the direct mandates of chapter 419 and its own hiring rules. The actions of the commission are also reasonable under the circumstances. It was the commission’s stated objective to allow the applicant with the highest ranking, Bolduc, to be considered for the position of police chief.
We therefore affirm the hiring decision of the commission and discharge the writ of certiorari.