‘If I was in Amelia Clark’s shoes… I would resign’; An in-depth look at the investigation into Dr. Lutz’s illegal termination
SPOKANE, Wash. — This pandemic has put the country through a long and devastating period of history, and Spokane County has had to navigate through much of it without a permanent health officer.
It is a pretty terrifying position to be in considering the times, and a new report shows it’s one we didn’t have to be in if Dr. Bob Lutz wasn’t illegally fired back in the fall.
Late last night, 4 News Now discovered Seattle-based law firm Ogden Murphy Wallace released preliminary findings in their investigation into Amelia Clark, Spokane County’s Health Administrator.
To make a long story short, they determined Clark violated state law when she fired Dr. Lutz last year.
Former Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart is one of the people who got the Washington State Board of Health to kick off the investigation.
“If I was in Amelia Clark’s shoes and I read that report, I would resign,” Stuckart told 4 News Now.
A memo dated in late April reveals Clark “refused or neglected to obey or enforce” state requirements that forbid the removal of a local health officer until after notice is given, and an opportunity for a hearing before the board.
It also shows inconsistencies between Clark and Spokane Health Board members.
Despite Clark never admitting she fired Dr. Lutz on October 29th, the investigation could not deny on that day, Clark took his SRHD ID, keys and other items, and board member Ben Wick escorted Lutz out of the building.
We also learned she gave him a separation agreement stating: “Employee was separated from employment effective October 29, 2020.”
The next morning, she sent an email to SRHD that read in part, “Yesterday, October 29 was Bob Lutz’s last day at the Health District.”
Just hours later, the community response was swift.
“There were 7,000 different emails written to the board in support of Dr. Lutz back when this was happening,” recalled Stuckart. “We’ve never seen an outcry in support of a public figure who was doing his best.”
The lack of transparency led Stuckart, along with local leaders to form a group calling themselves PHACTS — the Public Health Action Coalition Team of Spokane.
“When people act illegally, it shouldn’t be swept under the rug,” said Stuckart.
This report recommends the removal of Ms. Clark from her position if the State Board of Health agrees she broke the law, and that the board discuss the report’s findings.
That’s set to happen at their meeting on May 27th.
In the meantime, Stuckart urges the public to not forget what happened and to hold people accountable.
“Follow Public Health Action Coalition of Spokane. Put in PHACTS, follow us on Facebook. We’ll have specific actions to take after the public health board meeting on the 27th,” said Stuckart. “I think also writing your elected officials and letting them know you read this report, that you agree with the report and that Clark should be fired, is something everybody watching this report can do right now
We also contacted members of the Spokane Health Board but have not heard back as of publication.
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