Dr Lutz Asked To Resign

The regional health board — comprised almost entirely of politicians, not health experts — will have a press conference at 11 am.

UPDATE | This is an impossibly fast moving story with a lot of swirling rumor and not a lot on-the-record, but I’ll try to round up at the end of day here:

Lutz was asked for his resignation by 4 pm today. He did not provide it. I’ve heard rumors that he’s considering a labor complaint. A group of approximately 50 demonstrators protested outside the Regional Health building this afternoon, saying they were “freezing their butts off for Dr. Lutz”

It’s now clear that only the board can remove Lutz via public vote, and it sure seems like what happened here — demanding he resign — was an attempt to get around that rule.

Also late in the day, the Washington State Medical Association released a statement saying, in part, “What’s being reported as Dr. Lutz's forced resignation is a reminder that too often, politics often overrides science in our policymaking.”

The assertion from district administrator Amelia Clark and board president (and Valley mayor) Ben Wick that this was an internal personnel matter that must be kept private has come under intense scrutiny. As he often does, Spokesman columnist Shawn Vestal put it best in a quick-turn column:

“There are protections in the state’s public records laws for personnel decisions about public employees. These exemptions vary in cases of misconduct or discipline. There are also distinctions between employees and ‘public officers’ or ‘public servants,’ who have heightened public accountability under the law.

Lutz fits both of those definitions. He is not a mere employee.

It’s hard to imagine a more public public officer than Lutz has been this year; the spirit and letter of our public records laws call for decisions this important, and for public officials themselves, to operate in the sunshine.

Understanding this decision is obviously, urgently in the public interest.”

Lastly: Late Friday Council President Breean Beggs called for a public meeting and public vote.

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Original story below:

Damn y’all I was planning on writing a nice little weekly news wrap up this morning (something I plan to make a regular part of RANGE).

But then comes this:

So we’re calling an audible and trying to pull together as much information as possible before an 11 am press conference and trying to provide some concrete action steps about how you can make your voice heard.

Here’s what we know so far:

Yesterday there was a closed-session meeting and no public vote.

It’s unclear whether the Board or the Administrator asked for the resignation

  • The administrator, Amelia Clark, is an employee of the district, and therefore subordinate to the board.

  • Previously, the District sent out a press release saying the decision came from the board.

Hearing rumors from inside SRHD that Lutz is resisting resigning

  • This is not confirmed or attributed to anyone, so take it with a grain of salt.

The Board is overwhelmingly politicians

Not included here are Linda Thompson and Ben Wick, both Spokane Valley Councilmembers.

Again, this story is evolving, but I personally don’t like the idea of our elected officials playing politics with our health.

There is a press conference RIGHT NOW

  • Check your favorite news outlet for live coverage.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Things you can do right now:

Call the Board of Health directly: 509-324-1501

Contact AMELIA CLARK: 509-324-1518 | aclark@srhd.org

Contact the individual board members:

That’s all I have right now, but it’s a start.

Let’s go make some trouble.


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