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Tacoma Ethics Board: More time needed on Boe complaint

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on May 21, 2010 at 11:01 am |
May 21, 2010 11:17 am

After spending about two and a half hours in a closed-door session last night, the Tacoma Ethics Board determined it needed more time to review information before issuing its decision on an ethics complaint filed against Tacoma City Councilman David Boe.

David BoeEthics Board chairwoman Julie Myers said board members “have determined further information” must be obtained and reviewed before the panel can determine whether Boe violated any city ethics policies. Board members plan to convene again on Monday.

The ethics complaint centers on Boe’s ties to one of the losing bidders for the contract to revamp city-owned Cheney Stadium and whether he properly disclosed them. Online publisher John Hathaway filed the complaint in March based on coverage about the issue in The News Tribune. Hathaway filed this story as the basis for his complaint.

In this blog post yesterday, we wrote how emails recently obtained from the city show that some city officials, including City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli, knew details about Boe’s involvement with one of the bid teams long before it became an issue. Boe had sought advice about whether he needed to recuse himself from voting and discussing the ballpark contract issue, the emails show.

Ultimately, Boe did not disclose that he drew architectural renderings for a design-build team led by Wade Perrow Construction, or WPC, until just before the city council took a vote on awarding a contract for the ballpark project to another firm. City Manager Eric Anderson has said he only learned the details of Boe’s involvement with WPC just before the council meeting when the vote was taken. After Anderson said he became aware of Boe’s involvement with WPC, he advised the councilman to disclose the issue. Boe did so during the meeting, from the dais.

So far, the city has spent about $11,000 to hire Jillian Barron, an attorney from the Bellevue-based law firm Sebris Busto James, to conduct the investigation, according to the City Clerk’s office said. Barron interviewed Boe and others before issuing to the panel an investigative report with findings and recommendations.  Barron needed additional time to complete her work, which all told could raise the city’s bill by about $2,750, an official in the City Clerk’s office said.

This is the first outside ethics investigation conducted for the five-member board since it formed in 2007, according to city officials. Panel members spent most of last night’s meeting in executive session, discussing Barron’s report. Then, they re-opened the meeting to the public to announce they needed more time to review details of the case.

The board declined to say which information they are now focusing on, but Deputy City Attorney Martha Lantz said it’s “information that’s already available on the record” and cited within Barron’s investigation. Board members will seek to review “underlying source material” about that information to help them make a determination, Lantz said.

The investigation’s records will be made publicly available only after the board issues its decision, Lantz added.

Boe, who was in attendance for the public portion of the meeting, declined comment last night, saying he will speak about the matter once the investigation is concluded. Boe asked board members last night if they expected to have a decision when they convene again Monday.

“We hope to,” said Myers. “But we don’t know definitively.”

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