Several Lake County citizens approached the Lake County Board of Commissioners at a Nov. 26 work session with complaints regarding Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Chuck Pore.
Among those present from the public were Orlando Gonzales, James Ross and Bill Chastain, whose signatures, along with that of absentee Willis Ragan, were on a letter requesting Pore’s termination or resignation inclusive “that he not seek any other public servant job in Lake County,” as per the letter, dated Sept. 19.
“The reason we’re giving you direction is because you work for us,” Gonzales said.
Early in the onset of the discussion, Commissioner Dan Shoun noted that the Commissioners would not discuss personnel matters in a public setting, as such discussions are typically held in closed executive sessions under state law. He asked if Gonzales had spoken with Lake County Sheriff Phil McDonald, to which Gonzales responded that he was told to bring the matter before the commissioners.
Business Mgr. Jay Collins asked if there was any new information to present aside from the 40-plus pages of documents that detailed investigations and allegations related to Pore. Gonzales said he’d received no response to previous requests, and said it was not his responsibility.
“I’m not going to do an investigation for the County,” he said.
Commissioner Ken Kestner requested a formal statement of complaint in writing so that a permanent record would be on file. Collins said that the County takes complaints seriously, but open discussion is limited due to the nature of personnel matters.
Gonzales said that the complaint is a matter of public safety, asking what the County plans to do about the complaint, requesting an investigation into Pore’s actions.
Collins noted that Gonzales, as a member of the public, is free to voice his opinion, but the Commissioners are not in a position to speak on personnel matters.
Several anecdotes claiming inappropriate behavior or action by Pore were related during the meeting, to which the Commissioners repeatedly requested formal complaints in writing for a permanent record of the complainants’ accounts.
In a later interview, Sheriff McDonald noted he could only comment minimally on the matter due to the aforementioned confidential nature of personnel matters. He also said the issues raised in the 40-plus pages of documents have all been previously investigated. Some of the investigations contained therein occurred prior to his tenure as the County’s sheriff.
The sheriff also noted that protocol is currently in place for complaints from the public, as well as for internal affairs regarding disciplinary action against department employees. A tiered system related to disciplinary action is a component of employee labor union agreements, he said.
The public may either speak to him directly or bring their complaints before the Board of Commissioners, he said.
Collins noted that the Commissioners have a responsibility to the public as well as their employees, and that the County has heard one side of the issue during that day’s public meeting. The Commissioners, with the help of legal counsel, are developing a formal response in the matter, said Lake County Admin. Asst. Denise Thorsted.