Attorney says whistleblowing motivated layoff
EUGENE — A former attorney for Lane County claims two top administrators violated his constitutional rights when they laid him off last year in a move that was blamed on the budget.
Marc Kardell says in a federal civil suit that it wasn't money, but his choice to blow the whistle on waste and abuse of authority that led to his layoff.
Kardell is demanding damages, reinstatement to his job or equivalent pay and a declaration that the county and administrators violated his rights, The Register-Guard reported.
Named in the suit are County Administrator Liane Richardson and District Attorney Alex Gardner.
Richardson called the accusations unfounded.
Kardell claims that he was targeted because he raised questions about an investigation launched by Richardson in 2011 into the county's economic development office and another into her belief that county Commissioner Pete Sorenson and former Commissioner Rob Handy had retaliated against her. Kardell claims that Richardson pursued the investigations for personal reasons and that they therefore amounted to mismanagement, waste and abuse of power.
Kardell says the county refused to recall him to work when a position later opened in the county's legal department.
In the suit, Kardell alleges that the county, Richardson and Gardner violated his right to free speech by firing him for speaking out on public issues and violated his due process rights by not providing any advance notice of his firing or giving him the opportunity for a hearing.
He also accuses the county of retaliating against him for reporting his allegations of mismanagement. The suit lays out 16 allegations of retaliation against Kardell.
They include Kardell being chastised for offering to chip in for a gift for a departing employee to his being barred from performing work for the majority of the county.
The suit also raises issues concerning Richardson's management style, clashes she has had with former and current county commissioners, and her handling of internal investigations and personnel issues.
The suit also questions actions by Gardner during a time when he was serving as both district attorney and interim county counsel and when the issues raised by Kardell were coming to a head.