Commissioner Rob Handy remains locked out of his county office with “as far as we know no legal basis,” according to his attorney Lauren Regan.
Regan says Handy is still going out and meeting with constituents despite not having access to his county office but “excluding a popular liberal commissioner in this way is problematic.”
Fellow Commissioner Faye Stewart excoriated Handy for not being around the office on the July 5 Morning Wakeup Call on KPNW, a conservative radio station (wkly.ws/1bk).
Stewart said he has only seen Handy at meetings and a couple times at the front desk. “I would say if you are concerned about communicating you ought to come to the office more,” Stewart told host Bill Lundun.
When Lundun asked, “Are you going to be glad when he’s gone?” Stewart said, “Yes,” and went on to accuse Handy of being paranoid. Stewart did not mention that Handy had no access to his office.
Handy was locked out after an investigation was launched into donations he had requested to help with his $20,000 settlement over a controversial Seneca Jones timber-funded open meetings lawsuit. Handy says that he checked with the county finance department before asking for donations.
Handy has been locked out of his office and his key card has not worked since May. Regan says County Counsel Alex Gardner finally got back to Handy and his attorneys on their questions about Handy’s lack of access on July 9, but “we don’t understand exactly what he was saying.”
Gardner told the attorney that County Administrator Liane Richardson has provided Handy with an “alternative office,” but Regan says Handy as not been made aware of any such office, and Richardson has not responded to requests for more information.
“It’s been shocking to watch,” Regan says. “I’m sure he’d love to make a big deal of it,” but Handy “wants the attention to be on his work as a county commissioner and not on his issues with the administration,” she says.
Attorney Marianne Dugan has been told her public records request to the county will cost $1.6 million. Dugan represents Handy in his case alleging the May 3 emergency meeting with Gardner, Richardson, Stewart and fellow conservatives Sid Leiken and Jay Bozievich violated Oregon’s open meetings statutes.
Regan says the way Handy has been treated, as well as the county’s efforts to stymie recent public records requests, call attention to “bad apples within the county administration that have their own personal motives, and are not acting with good ethical behavior.” Not being open with public records is a sign of a county government that “does not have the community’s best interest in mind,” Regan says. — Camilla Mortensen