Mayor Leavitt, You’re the Man!

by lewwaters

Submitted By Professor Robert Dean

 

Ring, Ring!

Leavitt: Government Contracts R Us; Junior Civil Engineer, Tim Leavitt, speaking.

Nathan: Well, well! If it isn’t His Honor, himself!

Leavitt: Nathan? I told you not to call me about city business while I’m at work.

Nathan: Come off it, Tim! You wouldn’t even be Mayor of Vancouver if it wasn’t for me and my prophesies. And, besides, your firm donated $9,000.00 to your campaign. Don’t tell me they didn’t expect to have to share your time and attention with the rest of the city.

Leavitt: Well sure, but you’re not a big developer who can shovel work our way. You’re not even from Tri-Met.

Nathan: You mean “Loot Rail, The Gravy Train, The Crime Train?”

Leavitt: Disparage it all you want, Nathan. I’m in favor of it. I’d even break all my promises about tolls and having the local community pay 1/3 of the cost if it means we get light rail. And besides, Tri-Met hired Government Contracts R Us to be their on-call civil engineering firm. That’s a pretty big feather in our cap considering who else they could have hired instead of us. And the $100,000 doesn’t hurt, either.

Nathan: Yeah, yeah! Doesn’t make any sense to me, though. Why would you risk being a one-term mayor and being known as a liar?

Leavitt: Are you calling me a one-term mayor?

Nathan: Sorry. I could have called you worse.

Leavitt: This may come as a shock to you, Nathan, but Government Contracts R Us is not the only engineering firm in town that will benefit from light rail construction. Sure, none of us expect to get a piece of the CRC action, but once it’s here it will be extended throughout Clark County. Gravy train? You can’t imagine!

Nathan: Alright for you and the other engineering firms but the rest of us can’t afford it. You said so yourself. And that’s not even counting the indirect costs to Downtown merchants who have to try to hang on during 6.3 years of construction. Makes me wonder if there might be some sort of collusion among all of you engineering firms.

Leavitt: Collusion? Don’t give me that, Nathan. There’s been a forensic accountant sniffing around for years and she didn’t find anything that would indicate collusion.

Nathan: That’s right. They sued her to keep those records secret.

Leavitt: And won! Ha! Put her in her place!

Nathan: Maybe the FBI will have better success. Look, Tim, forget about the law for a moment and look at this from a purely moral standpoint. Suppose there was a rich man and suppose he wanted to impress an important client who he was taking to dinner.  He takes him to a nice restaurant Downtown. Then, instead of paying for the dinner with his credit card he stiffs the poor guy who owns the restaurant and is just trying to make a living.

Leavitt: That’s outrageous. I would take everything from that rich man and give it to the Downtown restaurateur.

Nathan: Mayor Leavitt, you are the man.

____________________________________________________________________________________

As some of you might know by now I filed an ethics complaint with the City of Vancouver against the Mayor: Tim Leavitt.

The complaint alleges that the Mayor may have violated City Policy 100.36, and various state laws, when he actively promoted, advanced and voted for the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) light rail project while having several conflicts of interests. Bear in mind, the end purpose of the CRC is to allow Portland’s Tri-Met to contract with Clark County’s C-Tran to operate and maintain light rail transit between Portland and Vancouver.

Specifically, the conflicts of interest are these:

1)      Mayor Leavitt is a Senior Civil Engineer employed by PBS Engineering + Environmental (PBS); a small engineering/consulting firm in Vancouver, WA and headquartered in Portland, OR;

2)       PBS holds a contract with Tri-Met to provide “on-call” services as a consultant to Tri-Met; an Oregon agency that provides light rail services to Portland and would very much like to extend its services to Vancouver. Oregon law allows Tri-Met to hire any engineering firm for less than $100,000 without taking bids from other firms (ORS 279C.335);

3)      Mayor Leavitt continues his employment with PBS, presumably salaried, while also employed and paid by the City of Vancouver as Mayor. State law requires “no municipal officer may, directly or indirectly, give or receive or agree to receive any compensation, gift, reward, or gratuity from a source except the employing municipality, for a matter connected with or related to the officer’s services as such an officer…” (RCW 42.23.070). An investigation would reveal whether PBS has reduced Leavitt’s salary commensurate with his reduced duties while serving as Mayor of Vancouver;

4)      PBS donated $9,000 to Tim Leavitt’s campaign as mayor even though his time and attention as mayor would most likely be diverted from his PBS duties;

5)      Mayor Leavitt serves on the boards of the City, C-Tran and RTC where he promoted and voted the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS); a document that included extra money, $40 million above what would seem reasonable, for Tri-Met to upgrade the Ruby Junction light rail facility and another extra unspecified amount to upgrade Tri-Met’s Steel Bridge in Portland;

6)      Mayor Leavitt actively promotes the scheme (CRC) to award Tri-Met a contract with C-Tran to provide light rail services to C-Tran. (RCW 42.23.030 – No municipal officer shall be beneficially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract…);

7)      Even if the connections among PBS, C-Tran and TriMet are remote, the law requires that the connections be declared and the Mayor must refrain from voting and from persuading others to support the contract award. (RCW 42.23.040 – “the extent of the interest is disclosed…” and “none of the provisions of this section are applicable to any officer interested in a contract, even if the officer’s interest is only remote, if the officer influences or attempts to influence any other officer of the municipality of which he or she is an officer to enter into the contract.”);

8)      Mayor Leavitt violated the Open Public Meetings Act when he pushed through the unpublished FEIS, which contained valuable and extra concessions to Tri-Met, without public input. They took “final action” at the June 27, 2011 City Council Workshop when the Mayor secured the approval of the council for the FEIS secretly by “nodding of heads.”

9)      The secret FEIS, pushed through by the Mayor at the June 27, 2011 workshop and so favorable to Tri-Met and PBS, also contained no study of, or provision for compensation for, indirect impacts on Downtown merchants during 6.3 years of construction. Such a study is required by NEPA and by Washington’s HCT Act. Compensation was required by City of Vancouver Resolution M3663.

10)  The Mayor lead the effort to try to bypass C-Tran voters who he feared would reject funding for operations and maintenance of light rail and so de-rail the whole CRC project. That vote, along with another on the HCT system plan itself, is a requirement of the HCT Act. The Mayor conspired to circumvent the requirements of Washington law. Similarly, his proposals to divert money from the C-Tran general fund to finance High Capacity Transit, is contrary to the HCT Act. Carolyn Crain drew their attention to these violations but she was politely ignored.

11)  City Policy 100.36 prohibits even the appearance of impropriety. The example in 5.0 is of an officer actively pursuing the award of a contract in which he has an interest.

This is the complaint:

COMPLAINT

October 14, 2012

Eric Holmes

City Manager, City of Vancouver

210 E. 13th St.
Vancouver, Washington
vancmo@ci.vancouver.wa.us, Eric.Holmes@ci.vancouver.wa.us

Comes now Robert Dean and does state on information and belief the following legitimate complaint against Tim Leavitt, Mayor of the City of Vancouver (City) Washington.

Recent actions taken by the Mayor are in direct violation of current City Policy 100.36 – “It is required that all Council Members comply with the law and all other rules and regulations governing the conduct of public officials.” City Policy 100.36 mandates that officers of the City refrain from even the appearance of wrong doing and conflicts of interest.

Complaint

1)      The Mayor has actively encouraged, facilitated, and promoted a scheme, the Columbia River Crossing light rail project, whose end is to allow C-Tran to enter into a contract with Portland’s Tri-Met to provide light rail services to the City and to Clark County. The Mayor, himself, is an employee or associate of PBS Engineering + Environmental (PBS), a firm that has entered into a contract with Tri-Met to provide on-call services to Tri-Met (RCW 42.23.030).

Once introduced, plans call for light rail to be extended throughout Clark County. Firms such as PBS might reasonably be expected to profit from such expansion.

However remote the connection, the Mayor has not declared his apparent conflict of interest and he has not refrained from voting on CRC issues. The Mayor has actively used his position to promote the CRC light rail project to the public and he has used his position as Mayor to persuade other councilors and board members of C-Tran and RTC to approve important milestones for the project; such as the Locally Preferred Alternative and the FEIS.

2)      The Mayor has accepted campaign donations from PBS of $thousands. Such contributions are unseemly considering one of PBS’s star employees will be distracted and diverted from his regular duties at PBS to tend to the cares and responsibilities of the City as Mayor. Please investigate whether PBS has reduced Mr. Leavitt’s salary commensurate with his reduced PBS workload while Mayor (RCW 42.23.070 (2)).

However remote the connection, the Mayor has not declared his apparent conflict of interest and he has not refrained from voting on CRC issues. The Mayor has actively used his position to promote the CRC light rail project to the public and he has used his position as Mayor to persuade other councilors and board members of C-Tran and RTC to approve important milestones for the project; such as the Locally Preferred Alternative and the FEIS.

3)      The Mayor has accepted campaign contributions from numerous others who are also actively promoting the CRC light rail project and who might reasonably be expected to profit from real estate dealing and from the planned future expansion of light rail throughout Clark County.

However remote the connection, the Mayor has not declared his apparent conflict of interest and he has not refrained from voting on CRC issues. The Mayor has actively used his position to promote the CRC light rail project to the public and he has used his position as Mayor to persuade other councilors and board members of C-Tran and RTC to approve important milestones for the project; such as the Locally Preferred Alternative and the FEIS.

Laws Violated

The following is a partial list of laws, rules and regulations recently contravened by the Mayor:

  • City Policy 100.36

·         RCW 42.23.030 Interest in contracts prohibited.

·         RCW 42.23.040 Remote interests.

·         RCW 42.23.070 (2) No municipal officer may, directly or indirectly, give or receive or agree to receive any compensation, gift, reward, or gratuity from a source except the employing municipality, for a matter connected with or related to the officer’s services as such an officer unless otherwise provided for by law.

Importance

Violations of these laws can render the decisions taken by the body or bodies void.

The CRC light rail project is projected to cost the local community $3.5 billion plus interest plus cost overruns plus maintenance and operations plus tolling costs to the tune of near $12 billion over 30 years. Such a cost will surely bankrupt us before we ever see a dime of the promised benefits. Many of us will also succumb to the indirect effects of the project during 6.3 years of construction – most, if not all Downtown merchants will fold.

And yet, firms like PBS and many of the numerous project boosters and campaign contributors will likely survive construction and profit handsomely from distressed real estate deals and from the eventual expansion of light rail throughout Clark County.

This is unseemly and repugnant.

Remedies

1)      Convene an ethics inquiry to investigate the Mayor’s actions cited above and any others that might be made manifest.

2)      Revisit every action taken by the City in which the Mayor took an active role and did not declare his apparent conflicts of interest.

3)      Refer egregious violations to the State Attorney General.

I believe the foregoing facts and allegations are true or insofar as they are based on information I believe them to be true.

Respectfully,

Robert Dean

This is a supplemental submittal sent by email 10/20/2012:

Council,

It has come to my attention that this council received similar allegations last year about the propriety of the Mayor’s relationships with PBS, WSDOT, ODOT and the CRC. On the recommendation of City Attorney, Ted Gathe, the Council declined to refer those allegations for further investigation.

Please be advised that the City Attorney now has an apparent conflict of interest also since he advised the Council last year that there is no foreseeable conflict between the Mayor’s interests in PBS and his duties as Mayor. The City Attorney’s advice and procedure were wrong then and they will be wrong again if he employs the same this time.

The City Attorney is not being asked to investigate whether the accusations are true. If he conducts any kind of investigation, e.g. calling or emailing the Mayor and asking for his side, he will be acting improperly; he will be conducting an ex parte (one sided) investigation.

Policy 100-36 is explicit – the City Attorney is to look only at the accusations and determine by comparing the policy whether any of the accusations, if true, would constitute a violation of the policy. This is BEFORE any investigation takes place. There is no need to contact either party and any such contact to discuss the allegations would be improper (creating an appearance of bias).

This is the procedure that must be followed by the City under Policy 100.36 (8.0):

1)      The City Manager determines if the complaint is valid and in the proper form (written, based on personal knowledge, signed, and timely);

2)      The City Attorney promptly examines whether any of the allegations, if true, would constitute a violation of the code of ethics;

3)      The City Attorney submits a written report to the Council;

4)      At its next regular meeting the Council decides if it will refer the complaint to a Hearings Examiner for investigation;

5)      The Hearings Examiner conducts an investigation and prepares written findings and an advisory report;

6)      Within 15 days the Council will decide whether to remand to the HE for further investigation, dismiss the complaint, or make written findings.

Nowhere does the City Attorney have the authority to conduct preliminary investigations.

Please review my complaint before the next regular council meeting. There are six allegations that must be addressed:

1)      Is there an appearance of impropriety inherent in the Mayor’s interests in campaign donor PBS and Tri-Met?

2)      Is Tri-Met in the running for a contract with C-Tran; an agency on which the Mayor holds an important board of directors position?

3)      Does PBS hold a contract with Tri-Met?

4)      Is the relationship among Tri-Met, PBS, the Mayor, and C-Tran a direct or indirect relationship?

5)      If indirect, did the Mayor refrain from voting whenever that relationship might have had the appearance of influencing his vote (for example, when the CRC FEIS was approved by the City, C-Tran, and RTC)? Did the Mayor refrain from influencing the public and other board members (for example, in his annual State of the Union Address)?

6)      Does PBS reduce the Mayor’s salary commensurate with his reduced duties at PBS while acting as Mayor of Vancouver? Does PBS pay the Mayor while he conducts City business?

http://www.cityofvancouver.us/upload/images/Gov/Council%20Policies/100-36%20-%20Ethics%20and%20Conduct.pdf

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=42.23

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=42.23.030

RCW 42.23.010

Declaration of purpose.

It is the purpose and intent of this chapter to revise and make uniform the laws of this state concerning the transaction of business by municipal officers, as defined in chapter 268, Laws of 1961, in conflict with the proper performance of their duties in the public interest; and to promote the efficiency of local government by prohibiting certain instances and areas of conflict while at the same time sanctioning, under sufficient controls, certain other instances and areas of conflict wherein the private interest of the municipal officer is deemed to be only remote, to the end that, without sacrificing necessary public responsibility and enforceability in areas of significant and clearly conflicting interests, the selection of municipal officers may be made from a wider group of responsible citizens of the communities which they are called upon to serve.

RCW 42.23.020

Definitions.

For the purpose of chapter 268, Laws of 1961:

(1) “Municipality” shall include all counties, cities, towns, districts, and other municipal corporations and quasi municipal corporations organized under the laws of the state of Washington;

(2) “Municipal officer” and “officer” shall each include all elected and appointed officers of a municipality, together with all deputies and assistants of such an officer, and all persons exercising or undertaking to exercise any of the powers or functions of a municipal officer;

(3) “Contract” shall include any contract, sale, lease or purchase;

(4) “Contracting party” shall include any person, partnership, association, cooperative, corporation, or other business entity which is a party to a contract with a municipality.

RCW 42.23.030

Interest in contracts prohibited — exceptions.

No municipal officer shall be beneficially interested, directly or indirectly, in any contract which may be made by, through or under the supervision of such officer, in whole or in part, or which may be made for the benefit of his or her office, or accept, directly or indirectly, any compensation, gratuity or reward in connection with such contract from any other person beneficially interested therein.

RCW 42.23.040

Remote interests.

A municipal officer is not interested in a contract, within the meaning of RCW 42.23.030, if the officer has only a remote interest in the contract and the extent of the interest is disclosed to the governing body of the municipality of which the officer is an officer and noted in the official minutes or similar records of the municipality prior to the formation of the contract, and thereafter the governing body authorizes, approves, or ratifies the contract in good faith by a vote of its membership sufficient for the purpose without counting the vote or votes of the officer having the remote interest. As used in this section “remote interest” means:

(1) That of a nonsalaried officer of a nonprofit corporation;

(2) That of an employee or agent of a contracting party where the compensation of such employee or agent consists entirely of fixed wages or salary;

(3) That of a landlord or tenant of a contracting party;

(4) That of a holder of less than one percent of the shares of a corporation or cooperative which is a contracting party.

None of the provisions of this section are applicable to any officer interested in a contract, even if the officer’s interest is only remote, if the officer influences or attempts to influence any other officer of the municipality of which he or she is an officer to enter into the contract.

RCW 42.23.050

Prohibited contracts void — penalties for violation of chapter.

Any contract made in violation of the provisions of this chapter is void and the performance thereof, in full or in part, by a contracting party shall not be the basis of any claim against the municipality. Any officer violating the provisions of this chapter is liable to the municipality of which he or she is an officer for a penalty in the amount of five hundred dollars, in addition to such other civil or criminal liability or penalty as may otherwise be imposed upon the officer by law.

In addition to all other penalties, civil or criminal, the violation by any officer of the provisions of this chapter may be grounds for forfeiture of his or her office.

RCW 42.23.070

Prohibited acts.

(1) No municipal officer may use his or her position to secure special privileges or exemptions for himself, herself, or others.

(2) No municipal officer may, directly or indirectly, give or receive or agree to receive any compensation, gift, reward, or gratuity from a source except the employing municipality, for a matter connected with or related to the officer’s services as such an officer unless otherwise provided for by law.

(3) No municipal officer may accept employment or engage in business or professional activity that the officer might reasonably expect would require or induce him or her by reason of his or her official position to disclose confidential information acquired by reason of his or her official position.

(4) No municipal officer may disclose confidential information gained by reason of the officer’s position, nor may the officer otherwise use such information for his or her personal gain or benefit.

 

13 Responses to “Mayor Leavitt, You’re the Man!”

  1. Gee, that’s a lot like Boldt voting county money to get his wife paid.

    Like

  2. Oh, just wow… Wow, wow wow…. Thanks Robert….

    Like

  3. Welcome to Chi-couver. As Robert said, “This is unseemly and repugnant.”

    Like

  4. Thank you so very much! I cannot tell you how much. I am excited and validated and a little bit afraid since I know we are fighting with very big powers. Still I cannot thank you enough. It is so important to our community. God bless you and us all on this night!

    Like

  5. Your supplemental e-mail is dated for 10/20/2012. Has it been sent or is this date an error?

    Like

  6. Really suprised there wasn’t a re-call election on Tim Leavitt when he ran for the office of Vancouver Mayor on no Light Rail and No tolls and as soon as he was elected Leavitt switched to support Light Rail and Tolls. This is an example of what our citizens are sick and tired of, politicians that say one thing to get elected and go the opposite direction once they are elected.

    Like

  7. Carolyn yes the email was sent to the City Manager and Attorney. The City attorney is required to PROMPTLY make his report for the next regular council meeting. That wide be before the elections where Leavitt has made some strategic endorsements so don’t expect the report to be prompt.

    Like

  8. Carolyn you are right to be fearful of retaliation. Debbie Peterson was named in the lawsuit. I mentioned some of these allegations on the Columbian blog and got banned from their site. This is organized and there are hundreds of millions $ at stake.

    Like

  9. And PBS contributed $500.00 to TIMOTHY Leavitt 4/11/2003 so that he could hold public office.
    County Commissioner Steve Stuart took the pro-tax hike position at the recent Ctran Town Hall to push this year’s CTRAN sales tax hike to bring Portlands’ light rail to Vancouver. http://www.cityofvancouver.us/cvtv/cvtvarchive2/Election_Programming/2012_Events/General_Election_Coverage/Transportation_Benefit_Area_Authority_Town_Hall_10-9-12.mp4 Stuart urged citizens not to worry about the $850,000 MILLION to $1.2 BILLION the CRC hopes the feds will cough up to build about 3 miles of light rail. or the $ 4 Million CCounty citizens would cough up each year in sales tax are foolish enough to vote to authorize light rail taxes in Clark County. The tax $$ collected would grow over time. Forensic Accountant Tiffany Couch explained about Tri-Mets’ cost structure that CTRAN taxpayers could inherit if TriMEt light rail comes to CCounty including an unfunded liability for pensions etc approaching $ 1 BILLION, PLUS mounting debt. Stuart shared that CTRAN already contracts with Tri-Met for various services, just like PBS, Mayor Leavitt’s company, contracts with TriMet for various services. This is a clear conflict of interests.
    If PBS company had contracts with TriMet, who contracts with CTRAN at the time Leavitt first accepted a CTRAN board appointment, he should have disclosed it . Did he? Now as Mayor, he makes the appointments to the CTRAN board with the consent of council, and clearly PBS does have a contract with TriMet. He should have had nothing to do with the CTRAN appointment at all. No vote in who is selected, no seat on the board. And lo and behold, during his time on the CTRAN board, it was decided that light rail would be “needed” for about 1,650 persons to cross the river on an average weekday, in each direction. (The FEIS states 3300 bus trips across the river on an average weekday) The truth is, the bus system is working well, and given the ridership actual history of CTRAN buses, the bus system will continue to serve CCounty well for years to come. The bus option for crossing was NOT fairly considered, and should be. The only way the bus option would truly be considered is if voters reject light rail.

    WA Policy Center Director Michael Ennis explained that CTRAN’s rosy predictions for light rail ridership were unattainable give the population density of our area and has an informative graph of CTRAN ridership since 1996. http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/blog/post/vancouver-light-rail-tax-increase-bad-policy-and-will-hurt-washington-businesses He also clarified that the question about whether CCounty would pay for light rail in OR was very likely yes. Indeed, the CTRAN spokesperson confirmed that CCounty could pay for the OR side of the light rail operations if voters approve the sales tax hike to bring TriMet light rail to CCounty.

    Like

  10. OMG! Just OMG! I agree with Carolyn conderning the fear.

    Like

  11. K.J. Hinton yes it is similar but Boldt’s indiscretion happened before David Madore opposed him for commissioner and he was not yet in the Columbian’s good graces. That little misstep got reported.

    Like

  12. I was at the monday meeting stating my appreciation for Councilman Turlay attending the CRC Oversight meeting and learning along side the public all the facts that were presented and then I said I wish that Mayor Leavitt had had more time to stay rather than just stop in and give his statement of opinion on the community’s need for this project. I said I wished he too had stayed to hear some of the gruesome facts like the $500 million dollars that the federal dept of transportation doles our annually is a nationwide budget and therefore the probability of the CRC getting $450 million for this one project was NOT! I was very polite but also very to the point of his being there and testifying. Now that I think about it though I don’t believe that they would have to discuss it this last Mnday since it was citizens communications week and even though they conduct regular business they don’t refer to it as a regular meeting. That will be this next Monday. Debbie is running against the city attorney’s wife who I just happened a couple of years ago to write about after she introduced herself as a proud liberal progressive. The letter to the editor was titled “Lady sees Red” and I defined communism in the USA as liberal progressives per their own history of their own party. Wow, this is quaking the powers in charge I’m sure.

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