BOTHELL — The Bothell City Council voted to implement an ethics code late last year as well as created the position of ethics officer to investigate complaints.
At a recent City Council meeting, Wayne Tanaka, of the Seattle law firm Ogden, Murphy and Wallace, was selected to fill that position.
“I’m hoping to be able to fulfill the duties of the ethics officer, and so I intend to follow the guidelines and the law and to reach a conclusion as best I can based on the facts I have in front of me,” Tanaka said.
The ethics officer position and ethics code were approved late last year. They stemmed from the City Council’s dissatisfaction with an investigation they had commissioned. It involved allegations of improper conduct related to former Mayor Joshua Freed’s actions in connection with the Wayne Golf Course purchase.
Freed was ultimately cleared of any wrongdoing by the investigation conducted by the city’s insurance pool.
Tanaka is an independent investigator who is contracted by the city for a minimum of one year.
Current Mayor Andy Rheaume said having an ethics officer from outside the city is important for transparency.
“There’s some separation there from city staff and city government which I think is a positive thing, so the person has free rein,” he said. “It’s an independent review.”
Council member Del Spivey, who recently filed an ethics complaint against four other members of the Council, echoed Rheaume’s sentiments.
He has full confidence in Tanaka to investigate the complaints, he said.
“I think having someone independent and outside is always a good thing,” he said. “If you’re going to have an ethics policy and officer, it shouldn’t be somebody within the city.”
Another ethics complaint filed against the city deals with similar issues as Spivey’s, concerning alleged breach of open meetings laws. In particular, they allege multiple city council members decided to fire former city manager Bob Stowe as early as January, without public discussion.
Neither Rheaume, who was named in both complaints, nor Spivey would discuss the ethics complaints, saying they were waiting on Tanaka’s investigation.