OLCC treated employees poorly


Oregon’s law is clear about people making secret recordings. They can’t be made if all participants in the conversation are not “specifically informed that their conversation is being obtained.”

It’s a law some members of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission apparently didn’t know or ignored.

Katie Siefkis, the regional manager of the Bend OLCC office, called a staff meeting in February. Staff members were told they could air their grievances without fear of retaliation, The Oregonian reported.

Partway through the meeting, Bonnie Barasch, the OLCC’s human resource director, lifted a recorder from her lap to give it to Siefkis because it wasn’t working.

People at the meeting complained. The union filed a complaint. An OLCC employee who has since been let go filed a complaint with the Bend Police. Police are investigating. The results of the investigation will be turned over to Deschutes County District Attorney Patrick Flaherty in about two weeks, police say.

To smooth things over, OLCC interim Director Merle Lindsay issued a letter promising that future recordings would be announced. That’s nice. The OLCC said recordings are made because it’s easier and more accurate than taking notes. Why was it in somebody’s lap then and not out on the table?

The OLCC has had its share of leadership turmoil that probably hasn’t help its ability to focus on the law. Steve Pharo, the former director, was compelled to resign in the last year. A permanent replacement has not been found. And as is hard to forget, not so very long ago the regional manager of the Bend office was a person who called himself Jason Evers, who turned out not to be Jason Evers but a Bulgarian named Doitchin Krastev. Krastev was deported in 2012.

Any way you look at what Siefkis and Barasch did, it’s not a flattering way for a state agency to treat its employees. It looks like they were trying to trap employees, not listen.