County commissioners Sid Leiken and Jay Bozievich have responded to an April 22 letter from the Oregon State Bar that cleared former county administrator Liane Inkster (Richardson) of complaints to that she engaged in fraudulent behavior that would reflect adversely on her ability to practice law.
Inkster nominated herself for a position on the Oregon State Bar’s Disciplinary Board in March, and a story by the R-G led to a bar investigation into what had led to her being fired by the county and if she made fraudulent statements or engaged in criminal conduct.
The commissioners said in a statement that today, Oct. 31, is the first they have seen of the letter from the bar. EW received the letter from the bar Oct. 30 after inquiring into the status of the bar’s investigation into Inkster and asked the county for comment. The bar letter says Inkster told the investigator, Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Mary Cooper, that Leiken and Bozeivich, who were the chair and vice chair of the County Commission at the time, knew and approved of the changes Inkster made to her take-home pay. Those changes led to the termination of her job with the county.
The letter to Inkster from the bar also says that there was an "full independent audit" at the county that proved she did not act fraudulently. Leiken and Bozievich call that "curious" and say "No audit was done of Ms. Inkster's misdeeds."
At the time Inkster’s case was forwarded to the district attorney, they write, who investigated but did not file charges as she had already been terminated and agreed to pay the money back.
In the letter from the bar it says that Inkster told the investigator that her employment with Lane County ended over a “contractual dispute.”
Bozievich and Leiken write, “Had the bar looked closely at the situation it likely would have come to a conclusion consistent with the two previous investigations.”
In their response, the two commissioners say they will be asking the Oregon State Bar to reopen the investigation into Inkster, interview all parties involved — the letter from the bar indicates only Inkster was interviewed — and issue a revised letter of findings. The statement from the commissioners is below. You can read the letter to Richardson here.
From the guy who brought you "Cow with Guns" comes a YMCA parody complete with a bad cop costume and catchy lyrics (I don't know how "Label GMOs" as a lyric can be catchy but it's stuck in my head.) I dunno if the grape costume means to parody Fruit of the Loom commercials from the 1980s, but it works for me.
The video was actually created for the 2013 GMO intiative in Washington that was defeated, but it works for Oregon now.
Eugene's Pamela Wible, M.D., spoke twice at the American Academy of Family Physicians Scientific Assembly in Washington, D.C., recently. Find a transcript of her talk online at
Lane County Board of Commission then-Chair Sid Leiken and Vice Chair Jay Bozievich knew of the changes in Liane Inkster’s compensation, according to a letter from the Oregon State Bar to Inkster (formerly Richardson).
According to the letter, after the conclusion of an investigation by Greg Olson of USO Consulting and Investigation, “the board later conducted a full independent audit” of Inkster. “It concluded that [Inkster] did not act fraudulently and that the board chair and vice chair knew and approved of the changes in [her] compensation.”
The entire April 22, 2014 letter concludes that Inkster did not knowingly make an “inaccurate representation of material fact that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s fitness to practice law.” EW received the letter after inquiring into the status of the bar’s disciplinary investigation into Inkster.
The Oregon State Bar opened an investigation into Inkster after she nominated herself for a position on the bar’s Disciplinary Board after “Inkster had been sacked by the Lane County Board of Commissioners for covertly boosting her pay in violation of county policy,” according to The Register-Guard.
But according to the letter from the state bar to Inkster, she and “the board agreed to terminate [Inkster's] employment contract based on contractual dispute. No one found that [Inkster] acted dishonestly, fraudulently or deceitfully.”
Inkster told Olson that commissioners Leiken, Bozievich and Faye Stewart had knowledge of her compensation changes. Leiken and Stewart denied that knowledge to the investigator, according to the report. Bozievich told the investigator he knew of one of her pay changes but denied knowing about the change that allowed Richardson to sell back and turn into immediate take-home pay much more of her unused paid vacation and sick leave than county policy allows.
According to the letter, Inkster told the Assistant Disciplinary Counsel Mary Cooper that the issues began when the Lane County board “wanted, for political reasons, to delay discussions” over whether she should get a raise. At the time, Inkster was making more than $150,000 a year.
EW has asked the county to respond to whether Leiken and Bozievich knew of the changes and has asked for a copy of the county's independent audit into Richardson that found she didn’t act fraudulently.
The letter from the bar is below.
An illustrated talk by Noah Strycker, local author of The Thing with Featherswill be from 6 to 7:30 this evening (Wednesday) at the Eugene Public Library.
Here’s the blurb about Strycker on the library website:
Approaching bird behavior from new and surprising angles, Strycker explores the astonishing homing abilities of pigeons, extraordinary memories of nutcrackers, self-image in magpies, life-long loves of albatrosses, particle physics of starling flocks, and other mysteries — revealing why birds do what they do, and how we can relate. With humor and wit, this talk draws deeply from cutting-edge science and anecdotes from the field.
A well-known and widely published writer and photographer, Noah Strycker is Associate Editor of “Birding” magazine and author of a previous book, “Among Penguins.” He has studied birds on six continents with field seasons in Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Australia, Antarctica, the Galapagos Islands, and the Farallon Islands, and his “life list” is approaching 2,500 species. He also works as a naturalist guide on expedition cruises to Antarctica and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago.
Fun new video from Steel Wool, filmed right here in little Eugene.
A bloody hell of a good time was had at the Second-Hand Zombies Salvaged Costume Show. Envision Journalism and Her Campus Oregon joined forces for the first Halloween Thrift Fashion Event held in the EMU Ballroom. Here are some of the runway looks supplied and styled by local shops Buffalo Exchange, Kitsch-22, and Custom Cranium.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that former Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy's complaint against the county, Liane Richardson (now Inkster), Sid Leiken, Faye Stewart and Jay Bozievich can be amended and move forward for a decision.
The Circuit Court ruled that: "While the district court did not specifically address whether amendment would be allowed, the district court entered judgment soon after dismissal, effectively precluding amendment. In general, leave to amend should be freely granted."
Handy's lawsuit, which was also filed by his constituent Brian McCall, claimed "in part, that Lane County, three of its commissioners, and the county administrator denied Commissioner Handy access to his office and his emails for months, creating great difficulties in carrying out his job as an elected official, which also impacted his constituents, " according to a press release from Handy.
The full press release is below and the appeals court ruling is here. EW will ask Lane County for comment for a story for next week's issue.
On Thursday, October 23, 2014 the 9th Circuit Court of the U.S Court of Appeals released its decision on the appeal of Rob Handy, former Lane County Commissioner and his constituent, Brian McCall against Lane County, individual Commissioners Faye Stewart, Sid Leiken, and Jay Bozievich and former Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson (now Inkster).
Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturns Judge Aiken's decision dismissing Rob Handy's lawsuit against Lane County.
The original lawsuit claimed, in part, that Lane County, three of its commissioners, and the county administrator denied Commissioner Handy access to his office and his emails for months, creating great difficulties in carrying out his job as an elected official, which also impacted his constituents.
The federal appeals court overturned Chief District Court judge Ann Aiken's decision not to allow Handy to clarify his original complaint. The appeals court ordered that Handy and McCall are allowed to amend their complaint and go forward to a decision on the merits of their claims.
According to Rob Handy, “We filed this suit to bring attention to the politicization of the offices of the Lane County Commissioners and how those in power misused that power to further a political agenda. The three commissioners named in the lawsuit are still in office and the concerns remain valid. We have been seeking access to justice and are looking forward to moving forward with this case in the courts.”
Local attorney Marianne Dugan represented former commissioner Handy in the appeal and continues to represent Handy as the case moves back to the jurisdiction of the District Court.
Excelsior Farm in Eugene grows herbs and veggies for Excelsior Restaurant, Farmers Market and CSAs (community supported agriculture) for families. Here is there new video about a campaign to raise money for a new greenhouse that would allow them to expand.
Like it or not, the Common Core and the associated Smarter Balanced testing are on their way. As the Statesman Journal wrote last week, the Smarter Balanced test will cost Oregon about $4.5 million more than the old Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.
As the story says:
Students are expected to master more critical thinking and problem solving skills under the new standards. They have to demonstrate that they understand concepts rather than just memorizing math equations, write opinion pieces at a younger age and more.
Changing student learning goals meant that states, including Oregon, needed a new test that would measure whether students were grasping these new standards.
"We believed very strongly that we wanted an assessment that had more student construction and writing and that those elements would require human scoring and would mean an assessment that was more expensive," said Crystal Greene, a spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Education.
In Portland, the school board has decided not to submit "acheivement compacts" connected to Smarter Balanced tests, meaning that Portland schools won't use the test scores to measure student achievement level.
Here in Eugene School District 4J, the district has set up a series of information nights for parents who have questions about the Common Core. Tonight is the fourth and last session.
According to 4J's website:
Things are changing in your student’s classroom, in homework, and in assessments of his or her learning. Oregon and more than 40 other states across the country have developed and adopted shared academic expectations, called the Common Core State Standards. They are clear, consistent guidelines for what students should know and be able to do at each grade level in math and English language arts in order to be ready to graduate with an Oregon diploma, ready for college, careers and life. It’s all to help students develop the knowledge and higher-level thinking skills they need for their future success.
Tonight's session is 7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 22, at the cafeteria of Sheldon High School, 2455 Willakenzie Rd. 4J's website says that the sessions will start with an informative talk and then parents will break into groups.
Just for fun — If you are a fan of Criminal Minds, check out the BuzzFeed tribute to Matthew Gray Gubler, one of the most fasincating characters on TV today.
Look for our elections and endorsements issue tomorrow (Thursday) with a surprise cover, a little flashback to 2005 for those who have been following us over the years. Meanwhile, we see the League of Women Voters has a new website covering the elections statewide.