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Dingle Responds to Outside Investigation Concerns

In reponse to EW's questions about County Counsel Stephen Dingle and the Liane Richardson investigation, as well as to a recent story in the R-G, Dingle has issued a statement. 

Statement from County Counsel Steve Dingle: Clarifying Story About Investigation in July 25, 2013 Eugene Register-Guard

EUGENE, Ore— Lane County Counsel Stephen Dingle released the following statement today to clarify a recent story filed in the Eugene Register Guard:

A July 25, 2013 article in the Eugene Register-Guard reported that I was conducting an investigation into recent allegations involving the Lane County Administrator.  I will not be conducting this investigation.

On behalf of the Lane County Board of Commissioners I have retained an independent investigator to investigate the recent allegations involving the County Administrator. 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. 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.

The Statement of Work for the Independent Investigator in this matter reads as follows:

Professionally, ethically and using best practices for investigations and complying with all applicable collective bargaining agreements, investigate allegations contained in a letter dated July 19, 2013 against the Lane County Administrator. Professionally, ethically and using best practices for investigations determine if any Lane County policies, procedures, or work rules were violated. Investigate recent complaints of retaliation applying the same rules. Prepare written report using the format provided by the County and deliver the report electronically to all five Lane County Commissioners no later than August 2, 2013. At all times during your investigation you will be acting as the legal agent of the Lane County Counsel.

An individual must provide the investigator with information necessary to conduct the investigation, such as relevant documents, emails, applicable policies, potential witness names and phone numbers and other logistical support. An independent investigator cannot simply travel to “Lane County” and begin “an investigation.” An independent contractor must be working at the direction of a Lane County employee, in this instance for the reasons stated above, I am that employee.

I was asked to coordinate the investigation by the Lane County Board of Commissioners because other than Ms. Richardson, I am the only other direct employee of the Lane County Board of Commissioners. Any other Manager or Supervisor in Lane County would be subordinate to Ms. Richardson on the Lane County organizational chart, and therefore inappropriate to manage an investigation involving Ms. Richardson—their superior.

In order to assure a fair and complete investigation in this matter I do not  anticipate releasing any additional information on this matter until the next time the Lane County Board of Commissioners meets.