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ended up in a one-sided report that didn’t follow due process. First, the investigating agency, Winston & Cashatt, is where Isserlis worked before Condon made her the city attorney. Isserlis is also the chair of the ombudsman selection committee, one source of the commissioners’ frustrations. “It was totally inappropriate to hire the law firm with her former colleagues,” Conklin says of Isserlis’ decision. Conklin says the final report also lacks objectivity. “The report was presented as an objective investigation, and it wasn’t,” she says. “It was a writing that defended one specific position and presented all the evidence in support of that position.” She points to examples where the report cites accusations made by the complainant as fact without reporting that they were contested in interviews.

F

or his part, Straub is not trying to sue the city for wrongful termination. He is an at-will employee, which means, like Chesney, the mayor can fire him whenever he wants. The issue, as Straub sees it, is that the city didn’t give him a chance to respond to the accusations in the letters. By On the heels of Frank Straub’s $4 million releasing them, the city claim, mayoral challenger Shar Lichty filed damaged his reputaethics complaints against two of Mayor tion and future job Condon’s cabinet members — one against prospects. city spokesman Brian Coddington, the other The big question against City Administrator Theresa Sanders. for Dunn is whether The complaints stem from shifting explanaStraub was actually tions for personnel moves within the police fired or if he resigned. department. In a letter accompanySanders originally told the Spokesmaning the claim for damReview that former police spokeswoman ages, Schultz, Straub’s Monique Cotton’s $9,000 pay bump was an attorney, empha“enticement” to move to the Parks Departsizes that he was fired. ment, and that she had no knowledge of However, Condon’s issues between Cotton and Straub. Sanders emailed statement later admitted that she was aware of the immediately following problem. Mayor Condon has said the pay news of the claim said increase was not an “enticement.” in part: “We received Coddington denied knowledge of a signed resignation letStraub’s departure the day after the former ter Tuesday morning.” chief says he was told he was being forced One factor the from his job. When asked by Spokesman claim considers is the reporter Nick Deshais a few hours before public records law the city made the official announcement, that determines when Coddington denied knowledge of the ouster, a complaint against a saying: “I have not heard that. I don’t believe public employee can be that’s accurate.” released. According to “I provided the most current information local attorney Breean available when I was asked,” Coddington told Beggs, complaints, the Inlander, declining to comment further such as the ones in the citing the pending complaint. (MITCH RYALS) letters, are generally releasable. The only question is how much redacting is necessary. If a complaint is made but not substantiated, for example, it is still a releasable public document, in general, but the names must be redacted. Complaints found to be true are releasable without redactions. Schultz argues that Straub had a right to a “name-clearing hearing” before any accusations were released to the public. “The unnecessary publication of those letters is not allowable because they are completely untested and uninvestigated,” she says. “He had no opportunity to address those and try to clear his name before they were released to the public. That’s a violation of due process.” She suspects the situation will have ramifications for the city’s ability to hire quality employees in the future. “Any other potential police chief coming into this community is going to look at the way we’ve treated them,” she says. “That’s going to be a serious problem for the city.” n mitchr@inlander.com

ETHICS COMPLAINT

OCTOBER 15, 2015 INLANDER 19

Profile for The Inlander

Inlander 10/15/2015  

Inlander 10/15/2015