Extra Fizz: Parks Head to Pay Fine for Illegal Wedding in Park

By Erica C. Barnett October 5, 2009

At its meeting Wednesday, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission will fine Seattle Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher $300 this Wednesday for using his position as head of the parks department to get a permit for his wedding in a part of Discovery Park that's off-limits to the public.

"He's agreed to pay a fine for using his position to gain access to something that's not available to you or me or anybody else," Ethics and Elections director Wayne Barnett says.

The settlement agreement  settlement agreement between Gallagherand the city describes the events that led up to the commission's ruling. According to that document, the parks superintendent decided to hold his wedding on Discovery Park's chapel lawn, despite the fact that the only place for which the city issues wedding permits in Discovery Park is on a meadow by the Daybreak Star Overlook, at the north end of the park (information readily available at the parks department's web site). After learning that Gallagher planned to get married on the park's chapel lawn without a permit, the mayor's office called Gallagher and ordered him to get a permit.

The following day, the document continues, "Gallagher’s assistant called the Parks Department’s Event Scheduling Office to obtain a permit for his wedding. The Event Scheduling Office created a new designation in its system for Discovery Park weddings – 'Park Outdoor Space' – and issued a permit specifying that location for the wedding. The designation was created solely for Gallagher’s wedding."

City law bars city officials from using their position to gain access to city property for non-city purposes; according to the agreement, as parks superintendent, Gallagher "should have known that, but for his position, his subordinates would not have issued him [the] permit."

Also Wednesday, the commission will discuss proposed new limits on the use of social media by city officials; watch the council committee meeting to discuss the new rules, including multiple misuses of terms like "blog," "Facebook," and "Tweeter," here.
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