May 21, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

With ‘a heavy heart,’ LTD board shares internal report: ‘There’s a lesson to be learned here’

5 min read
The LTD Board of Directors voted to release an internal investigative report into gender discrimination.

The LTD Board of Directors voted to release an internal investigative report into gender discrimination.

At its September meeting, the LTD board discussed whether to release an internal investigation to the public.

[00:00:07] LTD Attorney Andrea Coit: I’m Andrea Coit. I’m the general counsel for the board for LTD. There was an investigation that was initiated May 5th of 2021 into complaints of gender harassment against two board members. An investigator was hired to investigate those complaints and a report was completed by the investigator on July 19th, 2021. August 23rd the board met and they discussed whether or not the public interest required disclosure of this report.

[00:00:41] John Q: One person named in the report asked for a copy. Board member Don Nordin said he favored release to that person.

[00:00:48] LTD Board Member Don Nordin: Well, I’m in favor of releasing the report to the individual, for sure. Unredacted as requested.

[00:00:58] LTD Board Member Susan Cox: I am in favor of transparency. And I think that’s one of the things that we have a responsibility for, actually.

[00:01:08] LTD Board Member Emily Secord: I’m with Susan on this one. I’m comfortable releasing it to that person. And I think that really for public transparency, I believe we were probably on the pathway of releasing it publicly anyway. Michelle, what do you think?

[00:01:22] LTD Board Member Michelle Webber: I kind of have some mixed emotions on this one. Um, and you know, there are people impacted very heavily by the decision we make today and that weighs heavily on me and has been for quite some time. You know, I do agree, transparency is an important part of what we do. I don’t know. I’m just really struggling a little bit with what’s right here.

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[00:01:44] LTD Board Member Emily Secord: I think that’s fair. I think it is a big decision. I guess for the sake of transparency, I’ll just share why I think it’s important to share with the public, because I think the information in that report is better to share than to keep it private, because I don’t think there’s anything in there that does bring into question anybody’s integrity.

[00:02:03] Susan Cox: I think in particular, because the individual that made the request, I believe is the person that would be most impacted in a negative way. However, since that person is making the request, I feel much more comfortable with that. I mean, I agree with you, Michelle, that we need to be really sensitive. But since that has been their position that I feel pretty comfortable with this.

[00:02:30] Michelle Webber: I agree in the sense that one person asked for that report to be released. But you know, there was more than one person impacted by this decision. Whatever decision we make today, I just want it known that I’m really struggling with what’s right here, because people are impacted. And I just want to be mindful of that.

[00:02:51] Susan Cox: I think I agree with all of that, Michelle, but I also feel like because this investigation was about gender um, equity, or I’m not getting that word properly,

[00:03:05] John Q: Correcting the record, Board President Caitlin Vargas.

[00:03:08] LTD Board Member Caitlin Vargas: Susan, the word you were looking for was discrimination. So the complaints were gender discrimination.

[00:03:15] Susan Cox: I think that as a board, we have a responsibility to make sure that certainly the employees of LTD and the public know that that is something we took very seriously, that we wanted to make sure that there was an investigation, that it was done properly and that we are sharing that with the public, because I think we really have a responsibility to let people know that we took it seriously, there was a process and we have completed it, and this is the result.

[00:03:49] Michelle Webber: I appreciate that extra commentary, you know, I don’t disagree that we need to put that out there. I just really have a heavy heart about it, in a lot of ways. And I just hope that we all can take this forward with us and learn from it and just have better relationships and respect and all of the different things that need to be incorporated into being board members and how we’re interacting with everybody, right, with our LTD staff, with our community members, you know, just, there’s a lesson to be learned here. So, with all of that said, I’m in favor of releasing it. Just know that I’m doing it with a bit of a heavy heart.

[00:04:34] Caitlin Vargas: Susan, I want to agree also about your point about transparency and about the fact that one of the folks who requested it was someone that’s going to be impacted by that, I think that was a really great point that you made. Don, go ahead.

[00:04:49] Don Nordin: I feel like a couple of colleagues have been besmirched here and maybe it, well, the investigation was done and supposedly done under the right auspices, but then we lost our general counsel, and so it got very muddy there. And so I’m concerned that our former colleagues aren’t unduly stressed by this. I mean, obviously there was something, but it’s not clear to me exactly why this whole thing happened.

[00:05:21] Caitlin Vargas: Okay. Thanks for everyone’s input on that and, good discussion back and forth. So we’ll be taking a vote, um, please vote yes or no to release the report. And let’s start with Emily.

[00:05:35] Emily Secord: Aye.

[00:05:36] Caitlin Vargas: Thank you, Emily. And Michelle Webber.

[00:05:38] Michelle Webber: Aye.

[00:05:40] Caitlin Vargas: Thank you, Michelle. And Susan Cox.

[00:05:42] Susan Cox: Yes.

[00:05:43] Caitlin Vargas: And Don Nordin.

[00:05:44] Don Nordin: Aye.

[00:05:45] Caitlin Vargas: And I also vote aye. So that unanimously passes. So thanks everyone for that discussion and making tough decisions and really putting transparency first. Really appreciate everyone doing that.

[00:05:57] John Q: LTD posted the report on its website immediately after the meeting.

The report cited treatment of former General Manager Aurora (A. J.) Jackson, contractor Gloria Gallardo, and other unnamed staff.

Investigator Alison Krueger reported disrespect, dysfunction, and disorganization. But, she concluded, “there is simply not enough evidence that Yett and Skov…have engaged in unlawful discrimination.”

During a wild week in July, both men left the board. Governor Kate Brown thanked Steven Yett for his service, and relieved him of duty on July 16. Joshua Skov resigned on July 19. At the July 21 board meeting, A. J. publicly announced her resignation.

This week, the board heard that the Oregon Senate will not confirm its new members until November.

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