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UPDATE: Handy Releases Statement Regarding Lawsuit

LANE COUNTY, Ore. — Outgoing Lane County Commissioner Rob Handy is suing the county and three commissioners, accusing them of violating the Oregon’s special meetings law.

This is the same thing Handy himself was found guilty of doing.

The lawsuit accuses Lane County along with Commissioners Jay Bozievich, Sid Leiken and Faye Stewart of having a special meeting on May 3 without at least 24 hours notice to the public and governing body.

The lawsuit also states that no minutes of that meeting have been issued and that the defendants–in this case the commissioners–haven’t issued statements describing an emergency that would justify their claims that the meeting fulfills the emergency meeting criteria.

At that meeting the commissioners voted to release a lawyers’ letter accusing Handy of breaking campaign finance laws.

Handy sent this statement to KEZI 9 News Tuesday morning regarding the lawsuit:

I filed a lawsuit last week to bring to the attention of the court and the public an issue of grave concern with some recent illegal and unethical decisions taking place within Lane County government.

I filed the lawsuit asking that the three commissioners named in the suit, Bozievich, Leiken and Stewart, personally pay for attorney fees if the suit it successful; not that Lane County pays for the suit.

Basically, I filed this suit because in Lane County there are now three commissioners who have formed a closed government with the county administrator that these same three commissioners appointed and later rewarded with a large cash bonus. These four individuals – not the five elected county commissioners – are the people running Lane County government.

This group of four have developed their own four-way communications that exclude myself and Commissioner Sorenson and which include setting up a public meeting with two levels of notice: one with plenty of advance warning for the three conservatives and another level of communication with almost no notice to the two progressive commissioners.

Having a two-tiered communication system to deliberately include the board majority (which hires and fires the county administrator) and excludes the two commissioners not part of the board majority must end. All commissioners are equal under the law, regardless of what political party may currently hold a majority on the board. We need the courts to tell the Board of Commissioners that all applicable laws must be followed.

My term in office ends in six more months, and it is one of the reason I filed this suit against those three named commissioners. They are responsible for these actions. I fear that when a 4th conservative commissioner is sworn in next year, the remaining progressive on the board will be completely left out of all decision-making communications and/or meetings if this current board majority and county adminstrator [sic] are not called to account now. I feel that if this trend continues unchecked, the situation will only get worse.

It has been mentioned that this suit somehow relates to the open meetings lawsuit of the past where a judge made a controversial ruling that one-on-one meetings between commissioners were violations of the open meetings law. This lawsuit has no relation to that past decision. My lawsuit is to confront the current two-tiered system in place to give preferential and different treatment to commissioners who are in a board majority while denying access to meeting notices and other communications to the commissioners not in the majority. The only things the two suits have in common is that both are about some aspect of holding open meetings with adequate notice.

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