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Dolezal ousted from ombudsman commission

UPDATED: Thu., June 18, 2015, 7:55 p.m.

Former Spokane NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal appears Tuesday morning on the “Today” show in New York. (Associated Press)
Former Spokane NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal appears Tuesday morning on the “Today” show in New York. (Associated Press)

Embattled civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal lost another local leadership role Thursday.

Spokane City Council members removed her from the fledgling Police Ombudsman Commission following an internal investigation into misconduct that targeted three commissioners. One of the other volunteer commissioners investigated, Kevin Berkompas, submitted his resignation, while the third, Adrian Dominguez, will be given a chance to respond to the investigative findings next week before the council decides whether to remove him.

“I just hope we are all able to move forward quickly,” said Council President Ben Stuckart.

Dolezal, who had portrayed herself as a black woman for years before her parents disclosed last week that she’s white, never responded to letters from Stuckart and Spokane Mayor David Condon asking her to step down. She resigned under fire Monday as president of the the Spokane chapter of the NAACP and later appeared on network TV shows to defend her decision to present herself as a black woman.

“We haven’t heard from her,” Stuckart said, noting that instead Dolezal apparently decided to issue a statement to the national media instead.

The City Council, which oversees city boards and commissions, voted 6-0 to remove her. Councilman Jon Snyder was out of town.

Berkompas vigorously disputes the investigation’s findings but said earlier that if Condon and Stuckart no longer want him serving on the independent police oversight panel, he’d resign.

Dominguez, who had submitted his resignation last week because he’s relocating to Seattle for a new job but had offered to stay on through July, also disputes the investigation’s conclusions but told Stuckart he’s out of town without access to a computer and needs time to respond. The council agreed to set a hearing for Wednesday that would give him the chance to address the report, which concluded the commissioners had tampered with records, disclosed sensitive information, treated city employees poorly and attempted to overstep their authority.

The five-member Ombudsman Commission is designed to provide independent oversight of the police ombudsman and the Spokane Police Department.

The city has been without an ombudsman, who monitors police misconduct complaints and investigations, since January.

With Dolezal and Berkompas gone, and if council members remove Dominguez next week, the commission will have too few members to legally function, which will further delay the city’s efforts to hire a new ombudsman.

Stuckart said the council is taking applications for new commission members and details can be found on the city’s website.


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