Privacy concerns precede county controller’s resignation

Commissioners retroactively redact confidential health records

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Several members of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners contended a series of "strong concerns" and "little things" preceded Controller Tim Dolehanty’s resignation late last month. But most of them still decided to let him walk away with a $76,000 severance package and promised that a favorable reference will be sent to his next employer.

Commission Chairman Bryan Crenshaw, without elaboration, previously told City Pulse that “strong concerns” over Dolehanty’s leadership — displayed through “one situation after another situation” — ultimately led to closed sessions and a settlement deal for Dolehanty’s voluntary resignation on Jan. 24.

All but two commissioners — Carol Koenig and Randy Schafer — had voted to accept his resignation, Koenig said. And a report that Dolehanty produced days before he left might help explain some of the board’s animosity. Koenig said concerns stemming from an alleged breach of privacy played a role in his departure.

“That’s always going to be an issue,” Koenig said. “Employee confidentiality is particularly important.”

The board’s County Services Committee met on Jan. 21 — three days before Dolehanty resigned — to continue its ongoing investigation into barriers to prescription insurance benefits for certain county employees, including those who had difficulty accessing name-brand treatment for HIV and drugs to assist with gender transitions.

A report that commissioners had requested from Dolehanty’s office was designed to investigate the issue and explore potential solutions — including the possibility of another health insurance provider for county employees. But confidential medical records listed in the report immediately triggered the board’s fury.

Dolehanty, with assistance from Human Resources Director Sue Graham, ultimately released to the board — and by extension, the public — a report that included the full name of a county employee, the specific medications he sought to have filled and transcripts of calls between him and the county’s insurance carrier.

That report, after a brief appearance on the county website, has since been entirely removed from public view.

“There was a report that was submitted by the controller and it was criticized a lot during a recent meeting,” said Commissioner Emily Stivers. “That was a big one, but as far as concerns, there have been a lot of little things. All of them are a matter of public record. We’d ask him to follow up on some things and that was just never done.”

Commissioners Schafer, Vic Celentino and Randy Maiville contended they had no issues with Dolehanty’s leadership.Commisioners Crenshaw, Stivers, Koenig, Mark Grebner and Thomas Morgan declined to elaborate on any perceived problems with the former controller. Others didn’t return calls.

“Good controllers are hard to find,” Koenig added. “I know a lot of people had a bigger problem with his follow through. They’d want the controller to do something and there always seemed to be issues with him following through. Not necessarily for me; I’d just pick up the phone and call him again. Tim really was a great guy.”

As part of a settlement agreement, Dolehanty will continue to receive six months of salary and benefits — valued at about $76,000 — while he searches for another job. He’ll also be paid out on any unused vacation time and will receive a contractually mandated “favorable reference” that identifies his strengths as a top administrator.

“When employers hear about a neutral review — which has become common in these sorts of settlement agreements — they seem to know it’s probably not a good review,” Koenig added. “I think that’s why that language was put in there. I also don’t think it’s disingenuous for the board to give him that good review.”

In the meantime, Deputy County Controller Jared Cypher has since been appointed as interim controller while commissioners form a committee to find a more permanent replacement. A national firm, Trillium Staffing Solutions, has also been hired to help conduct the nationwide search at a rate of $25,000.

Visit lansingcitypulse.com for previous and continued coverage as the search for a new county controller continues.

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