SPOKANE, Wash. — Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) Administrator Amelia Clark called Crime Check on one or more of her employees after she claimed they recorded a meeting without her permission.
On Dec. 6, Clark fired the manager for Healthy Neighborhoods & Communities under the Community Health Division and the associate director for Disease Prevention and Response, according to SRHD spokesperson Kelli Hawkins. Those two people were escorted from the building as part of the organization’s risk management practice, Hawkins said. Deanna Stark with SRHD said the positions were cut in order for the health district to be in compliance with its 2022 budget.
Alt-weekly newspaper The Inlander reportedly received video recordings of a staff meeting where Clark explained who was fired and which division would be combined. In her call to Crime Check, Clark also confirmed the Inlander was sent recordings of that meeting.
Hawkins said a new Equity department will be formed with a new Equity manager and community health workers in the Healthy Neighborhoods and Communities will move into the new department.
On the same day, Crime Check recordings obtained by KREM 2 through a public records request show Clark had called authorities claiming she was recorded without her permission.
"Apparently today during a meeting I had staff members record me unbeknownst to me. I did not know they were recording me and they have now sent it to press outlets," Clark said. "After consulting with our attorney, I need to file a report and I would prefer for the report to be done in person."
Hawkins said, "concerned employees at SRHD alerted the administration of the recording of a meeting that had been without their knowledge or consent." The district also confirmed the meeting wasn't being recorded by the health district and it will not talk about matters involving law enforcement.
Washington is a two-party consent state, meaning that all parties involved in a recording must consent or know a private call or meeting is being recorded beforehand. According to lawyer Eric Stahl, whether or not a law was broken depends on more circumstances surrounding the meeting.
"If the issue is something that's already being discussed in public or is of public as opposed to personal or private interest, it might not be covered,” Stahl said. “So it really depends on exactly what is being discussed."
He also explained that it depends on whether people have a reasonable expectation of privacy. If the conversation or meeting is happening in public, such as a loud conversation in a public park or area, versus a meeting between people in the privacy of an office or home.
Hawkins said this was not an all-staff meeting, but rather one where team members were invited to share thoughts and concerns openly in a safe place where they trusted those in attendance. She also told KREM 2 News it was not a meeting covered by the Washington Open Public Meetings Act, as it involved employees of the health district but not members of the district's board of health.
Clark said she was told by Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich to file a report of the alleged recording, despite it being city jurisdiction rather than county. She also said she consulted the health district's attorney.
Spokane police also confirmed on Dec. 8, two days after the meeting, officers responded to the health district to take a report.
Clark has come under fire multiple times since she ousted former Spokane Regional Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz in the fall of 2020. This began a months-long saga that culminated in a public meeting in which the SRHD board fired Lutz and continued when Spokane citizens complained to the Washington State Board of Health about Clark's conduct.
A preliminary investigation conducted at the behest of the state board of health found evidence that Clark may have violated state law in Dr. Lutz's firing.