LYNNWOOD — A state board is standing by its decision to levy a $150 fine against the president of Edmonds College after someone complained he acted unethically by insisting last year that he should be exempt from some campus parking rules.
Amit Singh broke state law by “using his position to secure a special privilege for himself,” the state Executive Ethics Board said in a July 27 order.
In February 2020, Singh told the school’s safety director that he shouldn’t be ticketed if he parked illegally on occasion while hurrying to meet with potential donors for a new building focused on science, engineering and technology.
“Yes, I did request special privilege. Not for myself, but for my work, my employment, for the college,” Singh told the board during a July 8 hearing.
The board rejected that argument.
“Although it may well have been within Mr. Singh’s duties to attend facility tours with prospective donors, absent guidance from the EdCC Board of Trustees, parking anywhere on campus without fear of citation is not necessary for Mr. Singh to perform his job functions,” the board’s vice chairperson, Gerri Davis, wrote in the order.
Singh will not have to pay the penalty if he does not break state ethics law again for a year, according to the order.
He can also ask the board to reconsider or appeal the order in Superior Court.
State law allows the board to impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation or “three times the economic value of anything received or sought” against ethics law, according to the order.
Board Chairwoman Shirley Battan first assessed Singh a $150 fine for the violation last November, after Singh appeared before her during an abbreviated legal proceeding held by phone.
At the time, a full-fledged hearing before the board wasn’t required because the penalty didn’t exceed $500, the violation was considered minor and the facts were thought to be undisputed.
But the hearing last month was scheduled after Singh told the board at a Dec. 7 meeting that he disagreed with some of Battan’s findings.
A complaint was made to the board on Feb. 19, 2020, about two weeks after a campus security officer wrote Singh a $20 ticket because his vehicle was parked in a student parking zone without the proper permit.
At his request, the penalty was waived. It’s standard practice to waive first-time tickets as warnings, according to the board’s investigation.
Safety director Jade Jeter-Hill advised campus security officers not to cite Singh for parking violations and instead contact her if the president was parked illegally.
About 10 days after his first ticket, an officer saw his vehicle blocking one lane of a two-lane campus arterial road. The officer contacted Jeter-Hill, who advised that the vehicle be left there without citation, the board’s final order says.
According to Jeter-Hill, Singh’s vehicle was parked in a fire lane. However, because of the poor signage and markings in that particular spot, anyone else cited for parking there probably would have been successful in getting the citation dismissed on appeal.
Singh contended during the hearing that the spot was part of the new building’s construction zone, not a through road.
The president’s office is about a third of a mile from the campus, Singh said. He has an assigned parking space on the south side of the campus. But while fundraising to finish the STEM building, he sometimes needed to park closer if he was running late, he said.
The college offers free parking permits to faculty, staff, students and visitors, according to the board’s investigation. After 2 p.m., all campus parking is “open.”
The board’s investigations do not typically name complainants.