The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted on April 22 to give County Counsel Stephen Dingle a raise via a step advancement after what commissioners say was a positive review in a closed executive session. Dingle’s salary was at $145,995 a year, according to his contract. His move to what the board order calls “the next step on the salary schedule for Program Manager, D82, which is Step 8,” puts his salary at $152,630.
While members of the media can attend executive sessions, they cannot report on what was said. Members of the public cannot attend. Personnel issues and legal matters are often discussed in executive sessions.
In January 2013 a controversial attempt to raise the salaries of Dingle and of fired county administrator Liane Inkster (formerly Richardson) caused a furor during a time when the cash-strapped county was lobbying for a tax levy to support the jail. The proposal, written by former Human Resources Director Madilyn Zike, called for Dingle’s salary to move to $166,400, an increase of 14 percent. An outcry arose after the attempts to raise Dingle and Inkster’s salaries became public, and the attempt to raise the salaries was withdrawn. Inkster was later fired after it was revealed she had manipulated her compensation.
Step advancements are called for in Dingle’s contract if after 12 months his “evaluation is successful or better.”
Commissioner Faye Stewart said at the public County Commission meeting that Dingle’s “excellent job” merited the pay increase in his contract. Commissioners Pat Farr, Jay Bozievich and Sid Leiken mirrored the praise of Dingle’s work. Bozievich cited Dingle’s work on the “managing within the law” training program for supervisors. Commissioner Pete Sorenson did not comment before joining the unanimous vote. When contacted for comment, Sorenson said he gave his comments in the executive session.
Dingle was criticized by the public for not recusing himself from the outside investigation into Inkster and her pay issues and for the county’s heavy-handed redactions in the blacked-out copy of the results of the Inkster investigation.
Dingle recently lost a jury trial in which he defended the Lane County Sheriff’s Office, which was accused of improperly seizing a man’s car and failing to provide him with adequate due process. The county was ordered to pay $25,418 for violating the man’s constitutional rights.