I’ve been having a month-long email conversation with West Lane Commissioner Jay Bozievich regarding the termination of former county administrator Liane Richardson, the role she alleges he played in the activities leading to her firing and the now famous 29-plus pages of redaction of the Olson Report, which was the basis for the Richardson termination. May I share some information and some opinions based on that email conversation?
First, I have asserted and continue to believe that most, if not all, of the redacted materials could be released with no threat to county employee “whistle-blowers.” In my opinion, those redactions only protect the commissioner Richardson alleges colluded with her regarding her conversion of deferred income to “regular” salary. I’ve contended, from the start of our conversation, that the honorable course for Bozievich was, first, to acknowledge he was, indeed, the accused commissioner and then convince the commissioners to release those redacted materials without jeopardizing the anonymity of any county employees. He replied it was not possible to do so, that even the identity of the accused commissioner was necessarily redacted to protect those whistleblowers.
He invited me to appeal through the court system for the release of the material, knowing, of course, that I lack the financial resources for such action. His first tact was simple: He denied any involvement in “suggesting Ms. Richardson violate policy.” He contended that those redacted pages of information, testimony and evidence would support his denials, but steadfastly supported the redaction of the very heart of the Olson Report. He stated he would sacrifice public perception of his integrity rather than expose those whistleblowers to reprisal. He said his support of redaction was altruistic, not self-serving.
When the “heat” of public opinion regarding the redactions and his alleged involvement reached a critical level, Bozievich “went public” with a self-serving op-ed in The Register-Guard wherein he finally acknowledged he was, indeed, the commissioner accused by Richardson, and presented testimony and evidence he felt supported his innocence.
When I challenged him for selectively releasing materials included in the redacted portions of the Olson Report, he countered that he had the information “outside” the report and his comments, therefore, did not violate the law regarding release of redacted materials. He added that he had run the op-ed piece by County Counsel Stephen Dingle, who approved the piece as not violating state law.
I suggested to Bozievich that his position was less than honorable, and a more accurate statement would be: I have “outside” sources for information included in the redactions that supports my innocence, but, sorry, we can’t release information included in the redactions which might support Ms. Richardson’s allegations. Such action might endanger county employees. I have found a way to release information favorable to me, while finding a way to withhold any information which might harm me. He didn’t find my suggested statement particularly amusing.
I continue to assert that most (likely all) of those 29 pages of redaction could be released without jeopardizing the anonymity of, or threatening the employment or welfare of, any county employees. I assert that that information may, however, reflect badly, likely very badly, on Bozievich. I readily admit I don’t know that this is the case. I do know that the best way to put this matter to rest and “move on” is to release those redacted materials and publicly address the veracity of Richardson’s allegations.
If Bozievich is as innocent as he professes, I will gladly give him a public apology. If, on the other hand, Richardson’s allegations are supported, I will ask for Bozievich’s resignation. — Gary Crum
Gary Crum of Junction City is a retired teacher and counselor who worked with dysfunctional adolescents over a 28 year career in public schools, probation facilities and residential treatment facilities.