Bid to Probe Metro Flap Fails

Article excerpt

Byline: Edward Russo The Register-Guard

A Eugene city councilor on Wednesday failed in his bid to have city officials look into the controversy surrounding the employment of Lane Metro Partnership Executive Director Jack Roberts.

The Register-Guard on Wednesday reported that Lane County officials had proposed that Roberts be removed and temporarily replaced as head of the publicly funded business recruitment agency with Glenda Poling, the county's economic development manager.

The agency is overseen by a volunteer board of directors, including business people and elected and appointed public officials, including Lane County Commissioners Sid Leiken and Jay Bozievich, Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Eugene City Manager Jon Ruiz, Springfield City Manager Gino Grimaldi and county Administrator Liane Richardson.

Eugene City Councilor George Brown on Wednesday told other councilors that the newspaper report raised questions, mainly because the Lane Metro Partnership board and the Lane County commissioners had not discussed publicly the need to replace Roberts.

Brown noted that Poling, the county's economic development manager, had written Lane Metro board President Steve Korth about the possibility of Roberts and Lane Metro's business development director Philip Hudspeth being offered severance packages, but only if they agreed not to talk to the media.

Roberts on Monday sent an e-mail about the matter to the Lane Metro board.

Brown, from south-central Eugene, thanked Roberts for bringing the matter "into the light of day" by disclosing details about the private discussions regarding Lane Metro and its leadership.

Brown made a motion that sought to direct Ruiz, the city manager, to have city attorneys seek any "electronic or verbal communications" held outside of public meetings by any elected or appointed government officials that are related to the Roberts' employment at Lane Metro.

Brown's motion also asked city attorneys to determine whether any public official may have violated state law by discussing the matter outside of a public meeting.

"The City Council needs to shed some light on this," Brown said.

In his Monday memo, Roberts wrote that Richardson had told him last month that county commissioners would refuse to allocate the county's usual $100,000 payment to Lane Metro unless the agency replaced him. …