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County Attorney files opinion to remove Health Director from office

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 5:26 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lancaster County Attorney Pat Condon filed an opinion Tuesday, suggesting Lincoln Lancaster County Interim Health Director Pat Lopez is in her position illegally. Condon said in a letter to the Lancaster County Board of Commissioners that Lopez was never properly appointed, and should be removed. However, the County Board said they fully support Lopez, and intend to formally appoint her to the position.

Lopez has served the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County in an interim capacity following the passing of previous Health Department Director Shavonna Lausterer. She signed a consulting agreement with the City in May of 2019, to serve on an interim basis. That agreement has been extended through the end of 2020.

Condon said he’s also seeking to oust Lopez from office because her actions towards business owners “may result in Lancaster County citizens facing injunctions, civil proceedings or even being arrested and charged with a crime.”

Meanwhile, the Lancaster County Board said it has full confidence in the leadership and policies of the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.

Board Chairman Sean Flowerday said, “Without the leadership of Pat Lopez during the COVID-19 pandemic the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County would have been in a much worse position; she guided us through this difficult time with her expert knowledge.”

The Lancaster County Board said it strongly supports the policies spearheaded by Pat Lopez and the Health Department, especially the mask mandate. They said it has resulted in a verifiable drop in COVID-19 cases since it went into effect.

Lincoln Mayor Leiron Gaylor Baird echoed that sentiment during her Tuesday press conference, saying they would go through the steps to formally approve Lopez as Health Director.

“I saw that letter and it was disappointing,” said Gaylor Baird. “Pat Lopez’s authority has not been challenged until this mask mandate went into effect. The numbers speak for themselves, I think it’s just further confirmation of her authority and expertise about what keeps our community safe. She has my full confidence.”

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