I t’s a personnel matter and I cannot comment further. How many times does government use that dodge when an Oregon official may have done something wrong?

Almost every time. It’s a scheme for government to avoid accountability to the public it is supposed to serve.

The latest example comes from Bend’s branch of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Laura Shepard, the manager of the Bend office, has been placed on administrative leave for apparent wrongdoing. And you know what OLCC spokesman Mark Pettinger said; “It’s a personnel matter and I cannot comment further.”

Actually, government officials speak freely about personnel matters all the time. They are eager to brag when employees get promoted to top levels of management or win awards. Those are personnel matters, too.

The OLCC isn’t some puny agency with insignificant powers, either. It regulates liquor, marijuana and the bottle bill. It can issue fines. It can effectively shut a business down. It handles millions of dollars in revenue every year. It’s a potent regulator.

And the OLCC in Bend has a tortured history. This isn’t the first time in recent history a regional manager of the Bend office has faced an inquiry or investigation. It’s the third. The most famous of which was Doitchin Krastev, who went by the name Jason Evers. He was investigated for abusing his authority in regulating businesses and eventually went to jail and was deported to Bulgaria because he stole the identity of a dead child from Ohio.

Of course, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. Shepard may have not done anything wrong. But accountability and the public’s trust is violated when the public is not told what government officials may have done wrong — let alone what punishment they may receive.

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