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Farr says report should be public.

Byline: Saul Hubbard The Register-Guard

The completed outside investigation into changes made earlier this year to the compensation of Lane County Administrator Liane Richard son was handed over to the county commissioners late Friday afternoon, likely teeing up a board discussion and potential action at the commissioner's regular Tuesday meeting.

Commissioner Pat Farr said Friday he expects the individual commissioners to review the report over the weekend before taking it up - initially at least - in a Tuesday, nonpublic executive session.

Farr also said the county is planning to release the full report next week, after the names of some interviewees are redacted.

"Other than for reasons of privacy (for those individuals), it seems to me that it should be released," he said.

The other four commissioners declined to confirm Farr's statement late Friday afternoon or could not be reached for comment.

County counsel Stephen Dingle, who retained the outside investigator, could not be reached for comment. The county says Dingle is "overseeing" the investigation.

The county launched the probe on July 24 after Richardson disclosed to the board and The Register- Guard that, starting in January, she boosted her take-home pay by converting unused paid vacation or sick leave and "deferred compensation" to immediate payments.

Richardson made the disclosure after the county received a letter from an attorney representing a county employee who first raised the issue of the change in Richardson's compensation. The investigation will examine whether Richardson broke any county "policies, procedures or work rules" and will also look into "recent complaints of retaliation" made by the same employee, according to a statement of work for the investigator, released by the county.

County officials haven't released the attorney's letter, or any details about how much extra take-home pay Richardson received because of the changes. They haven't responded to a number of public records requests filed by The Register-Guard on July 25. To date, most of the information about the compensation changes have been released by Richardson herself.

Earlier in the week, there was a possibility that the investigation might be delayed from the originally laid-out timeline, which called for its completion Friday.

In an e-mail sent to all the county commissioners on Wednesday, which was provided to The Register-Guard by Farr, county attorney Andrew Clark said that all interviews between the investigator and relevant parties were expected to be finished by Friday.

However, there could be a delay, until "sometime Monday," in the report being finalized and given to the commissioners, Clark wrote.

Farr said Friday he would have been "pretty embarrassed" if such a delay had occurred and that he was frustrated that he had received "nothing direct" in response to his questions about the reason for the delay.

"This is not good," Farr responded via e-mail to Clark on Wednesday. "I have been anticipating looking at the report over the weekend. 'Some time Monday' isn't satisfactory. Tell me if I misunderstood something. ... If we are to give the public a fully transparent view of our actions, which we are, I would find it very uncomfortable fishing through the report as we deliberate (at our Tuesday meeting), and having to apologize to an already skeptical public for doing so."

Clark's Wednesday e-mail also named the outside investigator as Greg Olson of Keizer-based USO Consulting.

Dingle has declined to publicly name the investigator. The county also hasn't provided any response to a public records' request from The Register-Guard on July 25 seeking any contract or written agreement between the county and the outside investigator.

According to an online rsum, Olson worked for more than 30 years in the Marion County Sheriff's Department, including a decade as the county's undersheriff, essentially the second in command. After retiring, Olson formed USO Consulting in 2008, according to the company's website. Dingle was previously a longtime prosecutor in Marion County, before leaving for a job at the state Department of Justice in 2006.

Asked a series of questions about the investigation Friday - including whether Olson's report will be publicly released before or after the county board takes up the matter - Dingle, through county spokeswoman Anne Marie Levis, referred back to a prepared statement he released on July 25 that stated there would be no further comment until the county board meets next week.

"In order to protect and safeguard the rights of any complaining witness and the rights of any employee that is the subject of a complaint, it is inappropriate to comment further," that statement says. "In addition, it would be equally inappropriate to disclose facts specific to any investigation before the investigation is completed, potentially compromising the investigation itself or calling into question the integrity of the investigation once completed."
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Title Annotation:Lane County Government; The commissioner wants the investigation into a county official's pay to be released
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 3, 2013
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