An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Health District Advisory Committee Members Resign Over Firing Of Former Health Officer

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

UPDATED 3:55 pm with comments from Amelia Clark. 

Seven members of a citizens’ advisory committee for the Spokane Regional Health District have resigned their positions.

The seven sent a letter Sunday to the district’s administrative officer, Amelia Clark. In it, they say Clark…quote… “undermined the effectiveness of SRHD by demonstrating divisive, unavailable, and incompetent leadership.” The reference was to the firing of former Health Officer Bob Lutz.

Michael Dunn, the superintendent of Educational Service District 101, was one of the committee members who signed the letter.

“I did not agree with the decision to remove Dr. Lutz as our health officer, particularly in the midst of, my term, “a raging pandemic.” As part of that, during their board meeting, she referenced me in something that she said that I said," Dunn said.

Her comment said Dunn was critical of Lutz for how the health officer handled talks with schools about preparing for the academic year.

“Bob and I had some difficult conversations because this is a difficult issue, but I absolutely believe in him and believe in the work that he did. He was really good for the superintendents and the private school leaders in K-12 to work with," he said.

Dunn and Brian Henning, a Gonzaga University professor who also resigned his place on the committee, say they don’t expect Lutz to be rehired. Nor do they say the letter is a reflection on the performance of the new interim health officer, Dr. Frank Velazquez.

Late Sunday, the health district issued a statement from Amelia Clark. Clark says she’s sorry to see the council members, quote, “discontinue their support of the health district during a time when staff are working tirelessly to keep the community healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.” She says the remaining members of the council will get the chance to meet with Velazquez next week.