March 5th, 2013 | Andrea Damewood News | Posted In: Politics, Multnomah County, Metro

Clackamas County Counsel Fires Subordinate, Files Bar Complaint Against Him

Complaint alleges conspiracy to oust county administrator

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Clackamas County Counsel Stephen Madkour filed an Oregon State Bar complaint against a former county attorney he fired, saying Scot Sideras used his position to hatch a plan to oust County Administrator Steve Wheeler.

Wheeler, 60, resigned his position on Feb. 25 and agreed to stay on as the county’s chief executive officer until his replacement was found. The Oregonian reported the separation as “amicable.”

Madkour’s complaint suggests Wheeler’s departure was more calculated.

The complaint, filed Feb. 27, contains documents Makour says he believes Sideras created. They include a four-page handwritten timeline on how to get rid of Wheeler and a detailed resume Sideras sent to County Board of Commissioners Chairman John Ludlow.

“I believe that Mr. Sideras used his official position and the information he gained by virtue of that position, and used that information for his own personal gain and to the impairment and prejudice of a current client,” Madkour wrote in his complaint.

The complaint is the latest upheaval in Clackamas County, which faces an Oregon Department of Justice investigation for an elections worker possibly tampering with votes in favor of Republicans last November. That election also brought conservatives Ludlow and Tootie Smith to power, backed by timber baron Andrew Miller.

Sideras was fired from his job as assistant county counsel on Feb. 7; Madkour declined to tell WW why he fired his employee.

“It was an internal personnel matter and now it’s in the hands of the bar,” Madkour says. 

Sideras tells WW that he did write the documents at the behest of Ludlow.

“I had initial conversations with chair-elect Ludlow prior to him taking the oath of office,” he says. “He was impressed with my work, asked me to do more and now I find myself terminated. I am extremely confident that I will be exonerated by the bar.”

The pages in the bar complaint contain steps in a loose cursive handwriting and appears to include steps and actions to take at each point in “getting S.W. gone.”

The plan starts with a “letter calling for resignation” and goes on to list several controversial projects in Clackamas County. Step seven on the list, “replacing the administrator” has the notes “statement by the chair” and “out with the old in with the new.”

The notes also contain a heading of “what could go wrong?”

Options include “irritate J.L. or T.S.” (the initials of Ludlow and Commissioner Tootie Smith) with a line drawn to “unlikely. Get what they want.” Another option is that “SW could fight” with a line draw to “unlikely.” A third contingency is “P.S. M.L. P.B. as allies” (the initials of Commissioners Paul Savas, Martha Schrader and Jim Bernard).

Sideras refused to confirm the names behind the initials he wrote, citing client confidentiality.

Finally, Madkour attaches a Nov. 25, 2012, five-page letter from Sideras to Ludlow, listing his experience and attaching a resume. A one-page handwritten note is attached to the resume, in which Sideras writes, “I can do the job.” 

However, Sideras says that he never expected a job and was asked to provide a resume by the incoming commissioners could "know who they were dealing with in county staff." He added that he played a similar role when former County Administrator Jonathan Mantay was replaced in 2009.

The bar sent a letter to Sideras March 4, notifying him Madkour’s complaint was forwarded to the bar’s disciplinary counsel for more investigation.

Wheeler did not immediately return WW’s requests for comment.

 
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