No “corruption,” “cronyism” or “favoritism”

On February 16 at the City Council meeting, Town Center resident Michael Rutt spoke. He said he was “angry” and said he was dealing with  “corrupt people” and subject to “favoritism” and “cronyism” with respect to the E zone of the Town Center.

The E zone is a small area in the SE Quadrant involving the Lutheran Church and four residences that were zoned at the current R-1 (one unit per acre). This E zone has come under withering criticism by John Galvin and Rutt over the past two years because a Planning Commissioner, Stan Bump, lives in the E zone. Galvin and Rutt repeated have charged he received special consideration for this zoning. A previous column discusses this.

The charges are without merit. Below is a cryptic analysis of Rutt’s allegations.

  • “Cronyism” and “favoritism”:
    • The facts: The genesis of the carve out of the land that eventually was identified as the E zone came from a map advanced by Rutt’s sidekick, John Galvin, to the 2007 Planning Commission
    • Galvin’s proposal in 2007 was more ambitious than that the Council rejected Feb. 16.
    • Galvin’s map for this proposal carved out the Lutheran Church and four residential properties that make up what is now the E zone.
    • The Planning Commission picked up on this carve-out and recommended retaining present zoning to the 2008 Council.
    • The 2008 Council concurred and went a step further by identifying the E zone as a reserve tract for future upzoning and mixed use development.
    • Reserve tracts were a very common technique used by the King County Council, including in the area what is now the City of Sammamish.
    • The 2008 Council made these decisions based on recommendations made by the Planning Commission before Bump took his seat on the Planning Commission.
    • The bottom line: There was no “cronyism” or “favoritism” in designating the E zone. The foundation for the E zone came from plans proposed by John Galvin carving out these properties from development he proposed for the SE Quadrant. The 2008 Council made the zoning decision prior to appointing a resident of the E zone to the planning commission. There was no cronyism or favoritism.
  • “Corrupt” people:
    • This is a slur on the integrity of the consultants, city staff, the nearly four-score citizens who served on six council-created committees and commissions that have to varying levels reviewed Town Center plans; and to the City Council itself, dating to 2001, which created and appointed these six committees.
      • These six committees were the Planning Advisory Board, the Special Study Area Task Force, the Town Center Committee, the Planning Commission, the Parks Commission and the Parks Bond Advisory Board.
      • There were about 70 citizens on these committees.
      • One citizen wanted to work with the SE Quadrant applicants to development the mixed uses.
      • One citizen owned land in the Town Center.
      • One citizen who lives in the Town Center was appointed to the Planning Commission after the zoning was decided by the 2008 city council.
      • The other 67 citizens had no vested interest in the Town Center and no motives in the development of the Town Center other than to do what they think is best for the city.
      • There was no “corruption” involved in this multi-year process among these 70 hard-working citizens who volunteered months or years of their time for no compensation and perfunctory thanks and no end of grief from vested interests.
    • City staff has been the target of insults, verbal abuse and pressure throughout the Town Center process. To now be charged with being “corrupt” is slander of the worst sort.
      • Kamuron Gurol, Michael Mathias, Susan Cezar, Eric LaFrance and many others have put in hundreds if not thousands of hours of overtime. There have been disagreements over policy and proposals, to be sure. They have worked with honor and integrity. They are not corrupt. Neither are the consultants who have likewise worked with honor and integrity, under great pressure and with no vested interest in any outcome other than to do a good job as directed by the City staff, Planning Commission and Council.
      • The City Councils who have the ultimate decision-making authority over whatever recommendations made by the Staff and Planning Commission, and of stakeholders themselves, have also been tarred with being “corrupt” and perpetuating “cronyism”and “favoritism.”
        • It is true the various Councils sometimes appointed people who supported their elections; there is nothing unusual in this at any level of government.
        • It is also true the Councils appointed strangers to them. They appointed developers, small business people, environmentalists, real estate agents, insurance agents and other disciplines.
        • It is true Mayor Don Gerend is a developer but as far as I know he has no financial interests in the Town Center.
        • It is true the Mayor’s wife is a residential real estate agent but as far as I know she hasn’t represented buyers or sellers in the Town Center since this process began.
        • It is true Deputy Mayor Nancy Whitten is an attorney whose practice include real estate law, but as far as I know she has not represented anyone from the Town Center or with plans to develop in the Town Center.
        • It is true Member Petitti has a commercial real estate license but as far as I know she does not practice this profession.
        • It is true Member Cross is an urban planner but he does not practice his profession anywhere in Sammamish.
        • Former Council Members Huckabay, Barry, Fellinge, Romero, Haworth and Kilroy, who had hands in Town Center decisions, were or are in professions that have nothing to do with development and none had financial interests in the Town Center.
        • There was no “corruption” or “favoritism” on the part of the Councils with respect to the Town Center process, appointments and decisions they made.
  • Michael Rutt said he was angry.
    • That’s OK to be angry and disappointed when you are told “no.” He is not alone.
    • The Commission was told “No” by the City Council on some of its Town Center Recommendations. The Commission will likely be told “No” on some of its regulatory recommendations for the Town Center.
    • The City Council was told “No” by citizens for the Parks Bond measure.
    • Jack Barry was told “No” by Citizens for his reelection to the Council.
    • We all get told No. Parents tell their children No. Even God says No.
  • Charging there are “corrupt” people, “cronyism” and “favoritism” because six committees and commissions and successive City Councils have said “No” is not OK.
  • It is disappointing that the City Council let these slanders stand unchallenged.
    • At the January Council Retreat, the topic of spurious attacks on Staff and Commissions was discussed.
    • The Mayor and the Council were told of the demoralizing affect these spurious attacks have when the Council does not defend the people they hire and the people they appoint.
    • Good people have been lost to the City because of the dereliction by the Council leadership and the Council generally in defending the honor and integrity of those who are employed by the City and those who volunteer there time for no compensation.
    • It was agreed that this benign neglect should change.
    • On Feb. 16, it did not. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor sat mute to these slurs and slanders to the consultants, the staff, the committees and commissions and even to a successive series of Councils.
    • Mike Rutt should be ashamed of his slurs. The Mayor and Deputy Mayor should step up and put a stop to these spurious allegations and support those they hire and appoint for their work ethic, honor and integrity.
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One Response to No “corruption,” “cronyism” or “favoritism”

  1. Pingback: Who’s supporting whom in the Sammamish City Council Election « Sammamish Comment

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