Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Dominguez quits Ombudsman Commission: "Process has been anything but fair"

Posted By on Wed, Jun 24, 2015 at 3:04 PM

click to enlarge Dominguez quits Ombudsman Commission: "Process has been anything but fair"
Eastern Washington University photo
Adrian Dominguez: Not a fan of the Office of the Police Ombudsman investigation.

Tomorrow, the City Council will hold a special session to consider the recent resignation of Adrian Dominguez from the Office of the Police Ombudsman Commission. His resignation is the third departure of the five member committee, after Kevin Berkompas and Rachel Dolezal, to come after a scathing investigation found several commission members had behaved in harassing and destructive ways. 

Adrian Dominguez, an epidemiologist with the Spokane Regional Health District who once led the writing of this huge report, was singled out several times in the report. He was accused of breaking open public meeting requirements:
Comm’r Conklin informed us that Comm’r Dominguez contacted her on May 5 in order to ensure she would be voting for the 360 Degree Evaluation proposal that was on the agenda for that evening. Comm’r Conklin advised Comm’r Dominguez wished to obtain Comm’r Conklin’s support for the proposal because he was unable to attend the meeting, but wanted to be assured there would be three affirmative votes. Without Comm’r Dominguez’ third vote the proposal could not be passed. Comm’r Conklin stated it appeared that the Named Commissioners had agreed to support the proposal before it was presented to Comm’r Conklin and Comm’r Richter at the May 5 meeting.
In particular, Dominguez was singled out for his "unprofessional" treatment of the complainant over her failure to put the reimbursement of his travel expenses ahead of other Office of the Police Ombudsman business. The clash between the two, witnesses said, became heated. 

One email from Dominguez to the whistleblower rambled angrily: 
Yes I do have a problem with your choice to put other OPO business before paperwork you received on a Friday, thus pushing it to be completed on the following Monday or Tuesday (as you cannot recall which day it was ... I'm going with Tuesday). I still have yet to received [sic] check. Again you don't seem to not [sic] acknowledge my frustration. Yes there is a lack of communication. If you did not have time to do the paperwork then you should have said so. Again, you don't seem to understand this. I don't need to talk to anyone. What's done is done, however I did not know you reported to Theresa Sanders or Tim Szambelan. So is what I'm hearing [sic], if we have a problem we need to talk with Theresa Sanders or Tim Szambelan? I will be talking with Rachel and Kevin about this matter. This process is not working and needs to be resolved.
He was also accused of bias against police officers and of using OPO resources inappropriately. 
[The complainant] reports Comm’r Dominguez began having office hours in the OPO while he was on administrative leave from the Spokane Regional Health District. Although Comm’r Dominguez insisted he was not there to “babysit” ...  his practice was to come to the OPO for several hours at time, set up his laptop and work on other matters. [The complainant] observed that on several occasions Comm’r Dominguez used the printer/copier in the OPO to make large numbers of copies for non-OPO business.
Notably, he was the only commissioner accused of making a false statement. 
Comm’r Dominguez claimed to have no knowledge of the proposal to pass a motion to evaluate [the complainant] on May 5 until after that meeting took place. Immediately after his interview, Comm’r Conklin disclosed that she learned about the proposal prior to the May 5 meeting through a phone call from Comm’r Dominguez who was asking her to vote for the proposal. Comm’r Dominguez’s false statement violates the City’s Code of Ethics.
But Dominguez is crying foul with the way his investigation was carried out and the conclusions that were drawn. In particular, he notes the problem of the former law firm of the city attorney — a woman critical of Dominguez in the report — had been the one to carry out the investigation. 

Here's his resignation e-mail: Emphasis added.
City Council Members,
I moved to Spokane to make a positive difference, and in 2014 I was invited to serve on the historic OPO Commission. During my tenure, I served faithfully guided by the principles of equal and fair access to justice, civilian oversight, and the democratic process. As your appointee, you know this about me.

This process has been anything but fair and just, particularly when the investigation was conducted by the former firm of our present city attorney. Fairness and impartiality is vital; I have always maintained transparency in my viewpoints and beliefs. I believe in the important effectiveness of accountability and not simply its appearance. This is different, in my opinion, from what the mayor and police department demonstrated.

Therefore, I must say, that I am disappointed in this report. If the report highlights anything, it's the absolute imperative to appoint an ombudsman— whether interim or permanent—to fulfill the mission of the office, to generate the policies, procedures, and culture of accountability that the citizens of Spokane expected when they voted for and passed Proposition 1. This, and independent investigative authority, is what the community wants and needs.

Due to a recent change in occupation, I had previously submitted my resignation to be effective the end of July. However, in light of recent events, I will expedite my resignation to be effective immediately.

I remain a faithful advocate of the people and will continue to put the health of all communities first. Unlike the mayor's office, city's attorney's office and police department, who may lower their standards, I cannot and will not subscribe to that.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve Spokane.

Very truly yours,

Adrian E. Dominguez

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About The Author

Daniel Walters

A lifelong Spokane native, Daniel Walters is the Inlander's senior investigative reporter. But he also reports on a wide swath of other topics, including business, education, real estate development, land use, and other stories throughout North Idaho and Spokane County.He's reported on deep flaws in the Washington...