Gladstone report finds 'no definitive evidence,' costs thousands
Gladstone officials are paying an investigator more than $7,000 to produce a report finding "no definitive evidence indicating that anyone in particular" leaked public documents marked "confidential" to a citizen.
Jill Goldsmith of Workplace Solutions NW will receive at least $7,100 to produce the leak investigation report, but the final billing is still to be determined, and the billing so far only covers the investigator's work through September. The city agreed to pay the investigator $250 per hour, plus expenses, to research how Bill Osburn, who was removed as a city advisory board member by a 6-1 council vote on July 13, may have obtained some of the public records associated with Administrator Jacque Betz's complaint against City Councilor Matt Tracy.
"I believe it is more likely than not that someone on the (City) Council shared the documents," Goldsmith wrote. "Other than identifying those who are less likely to have done this, I cannot come to a conclusion because there is no definitive evidence pointing to a particular person and no one has admitted doing it."
On Nov. 30, Gladstone city councilors voted unanimously to release the leak investigation to the public, after correcting what Goldsmith called "typographical errors," misspelling a name and switching the location of an incident involving a city councilor's daughter from Fred Meyer to Safeway. However, errors remain in the leak-investigation document: Tracy was selected as council president on Jan. 12, not Jan. 14; additionally Osburn's name and the name of a Gladstone employee are misspelled in the final report.
With the leak investigation complete, Tracy's behavior has yet to be investigated, as all but two of the city councilors insisted that the matter had been put to rest last summer. Two other elected officials had actively opposed investigating their fellow elected official when Tracy reportedly used his position to attempt to gain a professional advantage over the city administrator's selection of a consultant, during an unscheduled one-on-one meeting in her office. Faced with an appeal by Pamplin Media Group to the district attorney, Gladstone city councilors voted Aug. 10 to release the documents related to last summer's complaint against Tracy.
Throughout the leak investigation report, Goldsmith went through a list of potential suspects who had access to the Betz-Tracy documents in making the determination of who may have been more likely to have leaked the public records.
City Councilor Randy Ripley responded to Goldsmith's first request to speak with him, but never responded to what Goldsmith counted as four subsequent attempts to arrange a meeting.
"I do not have information about whether Ripley denies sharing the information," Goldsmith wrote.
Goldsmith's suspicion did not fall on Betz and fellow city staff member, HR Director Nancy McDonald, as the investigator said neither seemed to have "motive to share embarrassing personnel documents," thereby putting their jobs in jeopardy.
Since he also "suffered embarrassment over this issue," Tracy himself was considered low on the list of suspects. Goldsmith considered Tracy's typical political ally City Councilor Tracy Todd (no relation) unlikely as well.
"Todd was and is cordial with Tracy and has been upset on his behalf at the release of these documents," Goldsmith wrote.
Todd's daughter got several paragraphs in the leak report because she happened to be standing in line at the pharmacy behind Osburn as he spoke with an unidentified man just a few days before Osburn released the report. Todd's daughter told the investigator that, while in line, Osburn had told the other man, "I really want to embarrass them" and that he "would reach out to Tammy."
"Chances are that this interaction concerned the documents in question," Goldsmith wrote. "Furthermore, I believe it is likely that the 'Tammy' (that) Osburn referred to was (Mayor) Stempel. However, we do not know that for sure. I do credit Lauren Todd's recollection and her identification of Osburn in this matter."
Stempel voted against Tracy's nomination as council president, in part because she was concerned about what she called his pattern of bullying behavior that continued in his confrontation with Betz the previous summer.
Betz told the investigator that in December 2020 Stempel and former City Councilor Neal Reisner asked for permission to publicly share the information contained in Betz's complaint, which Betz discouraged. The investigator wrote Stempel and Reisner wanted to release the complaint to "embarrass" Tracy, which Betz said was another error in the investigation report, and Betz said she never told the investigator this. Stempel and Reisner have denied that they had anything to do with releasing the documents.
Betz also told the investigator that sometime between February and April 2021, newly elected City Councilor Greg Alexander told Betz that Osburn was looking for information on the complaint.
"I have a concern that Alexander told me he read and deleted the documents and thought no more of them in January 2021," Goldsmith wrote. "The email evidence shows he requested another copy on April 7, 2021. Alexander declined my requests for a follow up interview to ask him about this (although he was unaware of the subject of the follow up interview). He asked me for written questions in advance, which is not best practices for conducting investigations."
Alexander denied that he provided the public records to anyone. Osburn told City Council he doesn't know who gave him the documents, being surprised to find them on his porch one day in a white envelope inside of a Ziploc bag.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.