While there were no raised voices this time around, plenty of heated emotions and rhetoric were still enough to make last night’s Bellevue city council meeting a spectacle. The most recent chapter in the saga started last Friday when the Seattle Times reported that councilmember Kevin Wallace failed to disclose a deal he signed with GNP, which, in short, has sought to reactivate the Eastside rail corridor from Renton to Snohomish in addition to the Redmond spur. Shortly after the story broke, the City of Bellevue announced it would be hiring an outside investigator to look into Wallace’s situation.
The evening started off with a spate of public comments, ranging from support of the investigation to testimony decrying it as a “waste of taxpayer money.” Both B2M and B7 supporters were present, the latter not explicitly emphasizing support for investigating Wallace, but that rather it include both Grant Degginger and Claudia Balducci, who have been accused by a few of having conflicts of interest of their own. B2M supporters, on the other hand, expressed frustration with the lack of transparency recently pioneered by Wallace.
Aside from comments about the investigation, there was one testimony from a Robin Ray, who launched a blatant attack on the pro-light rail group *Move Bellevue Forward (MBF), accusing it of being “sponsored by Sound Transit” and Tim Ceis. Ray didn’t back up or cite any of his claims, and instead attempted to discredit MBF through a mostly emotional plea. While citizens are free to say anything they want, it interests me why Ray chose to make his claims to the city council, which has no part in the group.
As far as I’m concerned, whether or not Kevin Wallace’s dealings with GNP are a conflict of interest isn’t the only problem. The greater concern is the fact that he didn’t disclose the deal at all, especially while the council was voting on spending $670k to further study B7. Under the precedent of recusal, the council may not even had Wallace’s critical fourth vote to proceed with the study.
*In the interests of disclosure, MBF is a group I am involved with, but these opinions are my own and not on behalf of the organization.