Morning Fizz

Pedestrian Chronicles, Scott Kubly Chronicles, and Sally Bagshaw Is Not Running for Mayor

SDOT director settles for $10,000 in ethics investigation.

By Josh Feit July 1, 2016

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 1. Picking up on this week’s ALL CAPS theme (see former Starbucks CEO Howard Behar’s passionate emails), I asked city council member Sally Bagshaw about rumors I’d heard that she was considering, or at least had recently considered, running for mayor next year.

Her email reply:


Have others asked you about this already, I emailed back, taken aback by the loud response.

“Yes, yes, and YES!!  :-)”

2. SDOT direct Scott Kubly has agreed to a $10,000 settlement in the ethics investigation into his failure to officially disclose his prior position as head of Alta bike share, a company that had a financial interest in the city’s bike share program. Kubly also failed to get the required waiver from the mayor’s office that would have allowed him to work on the bike share as SDOT director.

PubliCola was first to press Kubly on the point, getting his on-the-record response and publishing  the details of his  history with Alta; we published this when Kubly was simultaneously making the pitch to city council that the city should buy Pronto, the bike share non-profit that Alta managed. (We had also broken the news that SDOT quietly wrote two checks to Pronto for $305,000 in order to help the flailing Pronto pay Alta.)

When the council eventually approved SDOT’s plan to buy Pronto for $1.4 million, we continued to flag the ethical questions surrounding Kubly’s relationship with Alta because the buy out plan involved putting a city bike share contract out to bid and Alta was a potential bidder.

Mayor Ed Murray issued a statement yesterday supporting Kubly saying Kubly did not intend to deceive anyone (it was common knowledge that Kubly worked for Alta prior to taking the SDOT job and Kubly didn’t have any financial interests in the Pronto negotiations.) Kubly screwed up by mistakenly sending his response to the mayor’s then-legal counsel (now council member) Lorena González to his own email account; González had emailed Kubly about the conflict of interest process when he first came on board in 2014. There was no subsequent follow-up on either end until September 15, 2015 when Kubly formally disclosed his past relationship with Alta. Kubly had already been working on the Pronto buyout for months at that point.

The mayor’s statement is curious for two reasons. First, he said the mini-scandal “highlights the need for an improved and consistent orientation policy for incoming department directors about the requirements of the city’s ethics code.”

However, it is clear from the investigation that the city’s ethics department, headed up by ethics director Wayne Barnett, took a hands-on approach, informing Kubly of the disclosure requirements and ethics obligations and rules. For example, the settlement reports that on May 14 2015, city ethics advisor Gary Keese sent an email to SDOT and copied it to Kubly, that “gave detailed and precise information regarding Ethics Code requirements of mayoral waiver or recusal by Kubly and the possible need for a future disclosure.”   

This is not on the ethics department. It’s on Kubly. And this brings me to the second point: It’s also on the mayor’s office.

When they never heard back from Kubly, they should have pursued the matter. City ethics rules say the direct supervisor of employees with potential conflicts must provide the required waivers. In this instance, that would be the mayor’s office.

The Seattle Times has a good account of the settlement, of which Kubly is only required to pay $5,000 due to the consensus that he wasn't intentionally misleading the city.

3. File these two items under Pedestrian Chronicles

First: a Washington state court of appeals  ruled yesterday that “cycling is a mode of ‘ordinary travel’”—as opposed to simply recreation— and therefore, cities  have a duty to “maintain...roadways in a condition that is reasonably safe for ordinary travel, which includes bicycle travel.”

The Bellingham Herald has a full report on the case which specifically involved a Port Orchard commuter who was injured when her bike crashed on a faulty roadway.

Second: The Capitol Hill Housing's Pike/Pine street closure pilot project get a shout out on yesterday's New York Times front (web) page article about making cities more pedestrian friendly.

In Seattle, a busy stretch of East Pike Street in the Capitol Hill neighborhood that is lined with restaurants, bars and clubs was closed to cars on three Saturday nights last summer to make room for pedestrians overflowing from the sidewalks. “It just feels so jammed with humanity it becomes a rough situation,” said Joel Sisolak, sustainability and planning director for Capitol Hill Housing, a community development corporation that has worked with city officials to address the issue of crowded sidewalks.

4. Finally, following up our story this week  about lieutenant governor Brad Owen's angry email to lieutenant governor candidate state senator Cyrus Habib .... Habib fired back a letter of his own yesterday morning.

KING 5 ran the letter in full, which begins:

I was surprised and disappointed by the letter you sent to me and to the media on Tuesday for several reasons: the numerous inaccuracies it contained, the blatant condescension and discourtesy with which you addressed me, the impropriety of your sending a clearly political letter to my official Senate office in violation of ethics rules, the impugning of motives without any first-hand knowledge of the facts to which you made reference, and, above all, the fact that you decided to make public accusations without even once reaching out to me personally to air your concerns or hear my perspective. That hardly seems like the “fair, nonpartisan and impartial” approach you pride yourself on taking in your letter, nor does it constitute treating your colleague with the “dignity, order and decorum” to which you also make reference.  It rather resembles the “rancor and political mistrust” that you ironically suggest that I would engender.

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