The veil of secrecy surrounding the dismissal of Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner Cathy Neville is about to be lifted. And with it, the public may get an idea of why Amy Cooper, the head of animal control services, was fired last July only to be rehired for the same position earlier this month.
We’ve received word that the county has been given permission from Judge Patrick Broderick to make public the 35-page internal investigation report on Neville that led to her dismissal. County spokesman Jim Leddy says the documents likely will be filed later today. We’ll get a copy soon after.
As I noted in my Sunday column, Staff Writer Derek Moore has submitted a state Public Records Act request seeking documents related to the dismissal of Neville. In particular, he asked for the investigation report of Neville, who was placed on paid leave on Jan. 12 and finally fired on March 22.
The county refused that request on the grounds of privacy and attorney-client privilege. But at the same time, county attorneys appealed to Broderick to allow those very documents to be included in the public record as part of Neville’s lawsuit over her firing. She claims her termination was arbitrary and political. The county wants to prove otherwise, and, presumably, the investigation report helps the county make its case.
We’ll find out soon enough. As I noted, we would have preferred to access these documents through our California Public Records Act request, but at least the documents will see the light of day. It will be interesting to see how much o the information is redacted.
- Paul Gullixson