EUGENE, Ore. — A former Lane County Commissioner is going after county government for what he calls a lack of transparency.
Bill Fleenor and his attorney announced today they’re filing a lawsuit in Lane County Circuit Court.
They say the county withheld key information in the investigations report into former County Administrator Liane Richardson.
Fleenor says it’s about transparency, and the public has the right to know what really happened.
From day one, Fleenor says he faced opposition.
“During my tenure as Lane County Commissioner, I was asking questions about, ‘Where was the money being spent; how was it being spent? Could we spend it more effectively and efficiently?’ And as you ask these questions, people get a little bit concerned about their own positions,” Fleenor said.
Fleenor says while serving from 2007 to 2011, he faced a number of lawsuits as a result of trying to create a more efficient government, but he says there were too many roadblocks.
“We had circling of the wagons by a lot of the public workers, the bureaucrats, the higher-level directors trying to prevent the commissioners from actually knowing what was going on. This is one of the reasons why I decided not to run for a second term, because I just felt totally ineffective.”
When information surfaced that former Lane County Administrator Liane Richardson had been converting paid vacation, sick leave, and deferred compensation into direct payments, Richardson was fired from her position, but Fleenor wanted to know the full story.
He filed a public records request for a copy of the full investigations report in November 2013, and he was shocked with what he got in return.
Fleenor says 29 pages of the report were redacted.
He says the county told him they wanted to protect whistleblowers, but Fleenor says he’s not interested in whistleblowers.
He says he just wants the truth.
“This is going to allow the public to really understand the lack of leadership that is taking place at the board level right now. As I said before, this did not happen in a vacuum. The leadership on the Board of County Commissioners should have been aware of what was going on, and they were not,” Fleenor said.
Daniel Stotter, Fleenor’s attorney, says now a Circuit Court judge gets to decide if Lane County has to provide the records to the public.
He says Public Records Act lawsuits get expedited review, but it could still take several months before they get a ruling from the judge.
We reached out to the county for a response to the lawsuit, but a spokesperson says the county won’t comment on pending litigation.