The Washington state Board of Health on Monday agreed to open an investigation into last week’s firing of Bob Lutz as Spokane County Health Officer.
Board executive director Michelle Davis says at least two complaints were filed by Spokane residents.
"Even as we have been meeting today, we have continued to receive correspondence on this issue from a number of people and I understand there may be additional complaints against the administrator that, as a staff, we have not been able to review," Davis said.
The complaints were filed after news broke about an October 29 closed-door session. That’s the day health district Administrative Officer Amelia Clark asked for the local health board’s blessing to fire Lutz. Later that afternoon, she met with Lutz to terminate his employment, even though the board’s bylaws don’t give her that authority.
One board member, Stephen Kutz, says letters sent to the board and subsequent media stories refer to implied political pressure on Lutz.
The board’s attorney, Lilia Lopez, warned that the investigation could not focus on the local health board’s actions, only Clark’s. She says the board cannot reverse the decision to fire Lutz, but it can investigate whether Clark’s actions were proper.
The board agreed to work with Health Secretary John Wiesman to find the money to hire an outside firm to do the investigation.