Kevin Wallace, the freshman Bellevue City Council member who has proposed a Bellevue light-rail alignment along I-405, avoiding downtown Bellevue, has hired consultant Rollin Fatland and former Seattle mayor Charley Royer to help him promote his preferred alignment, which Wallace has dubbed the "Vision Line."
Fatland said Wallace is paying him and Royer out of his own pocket; he would not say how much he is being paid. (Nor does he have to, even if his duties include lobbying Sound Transit board members, because Sound Transit rules do not require lobbyist disclosure). Fatland described his role as "working with Kevin to try to energize the debate" around where light rail should go in Bellevue.
As first reported here, the company of which Wallace is president, Wallace Properties, owns $50 million along both the Vision Line route and Sound Transit's preferred alignment through downtown Bellevue.
Asked what rules, if any, govern council members lobbying for (and voting on) issues in which they have a financial stake, Bellevue assistant city attorney Lori Riordan said council members are prohibited by state ethics law from using their positions to "secure special privileges or exemptions." However, she noted that because being a council member is a part-time job, all council members, like Wallace, have jobs on the side. And she said Wallace might have his property condemned by Sound Transit; "I don't know that most people would consider that a special privilege."
Bellevue's ethical rules appear to be much less strict than Seattle's (not surprising in a city that also allows unlimited campaign contributions to local candidates). According to Seattle Ethics and Elections director Wayne Barnett, Seattle law stipulates that "if you're employed by a company, or an officer or director of a company, that has a financial interest in a matter, then you can't participate in that matter." As an example, Barnett cites a parks levy vote from which both Tom Rasmussen and Tim Burgess recused themselves, because they lived on streets that would receive improvements if the levy passed.
Sound Transit initially rejected the idea of running rail along I-405 because it had the lowest projected ridership and development potential of any Bellevue route; however, the agency's board agreed to study Wallace's proposal again after a majority of Bellevue council members asked them to do so. On Thursday, they'll hold a joint meeting with the Bellevue council to discuss their findings.