By Robin Fornoff
CMI projects editor
County officials say a recently completed internal investigation centered on personnel issues, not the jail kitchen project, though elements of that project became involved.
“It might have involved an employee that had worked on the kitchen,” said Commissioner Robert Sandoval. “I don’t believe the main people that were investigated had anything to do with the kitchen.”
Commissioner Wendell Bostwick said it was a personnel investigation sparked by “complaints of wrong doing by personnel,” and that is why an outside investigator was brought in.
Commissioner Ben McDaniel said an almost $800 payment on Sept. 20 to County Attorney Steve Doerr was reimbursement for bringing in an outside investigator to conduct the investigation. It was approved Tuesday by Commissioners with other county bills along with the notation, “personnel investigation.”
Doerr and County Manager Lance Pyle have repeatedly declined to confirm or deny there was any investigation. Sandoval said that concerns him.
“They could say it was a personnel issue and be done with it,” Sandoval said. “They don’t have to name names.
“There was an investigation but it involved personnel issues,” Sandoval said. “It was not focused on the jail at all.”
Sandoval said he couldn’t discuss specifics, but said it wasn’t the result of a threat of lawsuit.
“Not that I know of,” Sandoval said. “Never any threat of a lawsuit.”
Doerr declined a recent request by the Clovis News Journal to inspect any reports generated by the investigation. Doerr said if there was an investigation, information gathered was attorney-client privilege and not subject to disclosure under the state Inspection of Public Records Act.
In an email Thursday, Doerr also disputed recent accounts of an internal investigation about the $500,000 jail kitchen renovation. Doerr said such statements were “incorrect and not supported by fact.”
“You also state in your articles that Commissioner (sic) Bostwick had read a copy of that alleged investigation pertaining to the Adult Detention Center kitchen remodel project,” Doerr said in his email. “Again, there was no investigation and neither Commissioner Bostwick, nor any other Commissioners read any such investigation.”
Bostwick said, “What I reviewed was a summary of this personnel issue.” Bostwick said the personnel investigation was the result of allegations “by personnel … whether there was lying, whether there were violations of personnel policy.”
Bostwick declined to discuss specific accusations, saying commissioners can’t discuss personnel issues. He said the investigation did include some issues with the jail kitchen renovation, noting, “It was all kind of tied together.”
Bostwick, Sandoval and Commission Chairman Frank Blackburn said allegations of wrongdoing by personnel are investigated by someone from outside the county. They said commissioners don’t get involved in personnel issues.
Blackburn said he knew nothing of a personnel investigation, if there was one.