Earlier this week, Bellevue City Councilmember Kevin Wallace presented a motion to appoint Aaron Laing to the city’s Planning Commission. This is a typical Wallace move, trying to advance an agenda against East Link without proper debate.

Laing was a Kemper/Wallace-backed city council candidate who lost to pro-East Link councilmember John Stokes. While the appointment was delayed a week, the B7 supporters on the council still have a majority and can stack the Planning Commission with members who aren’t friendly to transit-oriented development. The Seattle Times reports:

The dispute ended with the council deciding to wait a week before voting on Councilmember Kevin Wallace’s motion to appoint Aaron Laing, who lost to Stokes by 51 votes in a hand recount.

No one challenged the qualifications of Laing, a land-use attorney, who received campaign contributions from Wallace, his father, Bob Wallace, and Bellevue Square developer Kemper Freeman.

But Councilmember Claudia Balducci, who asked for the delay, said it appeared Wallace had circumvented standard appointment procedures in order to install a “hand-picked” candidate.

The city’s seven planning commissioners advise the City Council on land-use and development policy.

Council liaisons’ recommendations for appointments to boards and commissions are typically noncontroversial actions and accepted by the full council without debate. (The mayor, by law, makes the appointments, but by tradition the council is first asked to concur.)

On Tuesday, Balducci said Wallace departed from the usual procedure by closing the door to new applications before the announced Jan. 6 deadline, interviewing candidates in one-on-one phone conversations instead of inviting other evaluators to face-to-face interviews, and not providing the council with all candidates’ applications.

Balducci said Laing was “an excellent candidate.” But, she said, “It starts to look like maybe we waited for our preferred applicant to apply and then shut off the process, made a few phone calls and decided whom to appoint. That’s the appearance and that’s my concern.”

Stokes said he, too, was concerned about how planning commissioners are appointed. “They’re either to be appointed by the liaison with just a rubber stamp or we should have a process,” he said.

Wallace said Thursday he shortened and streamlined the evaluation process because city staff “were urging me to get it done. … As far as I knew, everything was according to Hoyle.”

Concerns expressed by council members Balducci, Stokes and John Chelminiak represented “circus-act ambush attacks,” Wallace said. Balducci’s motion to delay the appointment for a week passed 5-2, with Wallace and Jennifer Robertson voting no.

11 Replies to “Wallace Attempting to Stack Bellevue Planning Council”

    1. … likely about 2 more years. Assuming anybody is paying attention and a quality candidate runs against him, he’s probably gone. John’s campaign proved it can be done.

      1. Any Bellevue residents ready to run?

        It’s all too easy for terrible, terrible politicians to stay in power simply because nobody runs against them.

  1. It is absolutely amazing to see Kevin trying to short circuit public process right and left.

    1. Bellevue is an interesting case study in how one sufficiently rich idiot can make a huge mess of an entire government.

      I think the only way to prevent this is to prevent the existence of sufficiently rich idiots, through very high top-bracket income taxes.

  2. It’s even worse than what’s been reported. The Planning Commission has canceled all of its meetings since October, 26th due to lack of a quorum. It’s one of the most important commissions in Bellevue, but its work has been halted due to political posturing. This is not the way Bellevue used to work…We are better than this.

    If you look at the Planning Commission website, you’ll notice there is no acknowledgement of a vacancy or a request for applications. Anecdotally, I have been looking for an appointment to a commission for the past 3 months and haven’t seen anything about the vacancy. Finally, I find it suspect that only 3 people applied to the position when the City usually gets 10-20 applications for a commission seat.

    I don’t know if anyone can prove wrongdoing, but something is rotten in the State of Bellevue.

    That said, Aaron Laing is qualified for this seat. The question is why would there be a need for this type of seediness surrounding it?

  3. *facepalm*

    I frankly don’t care who was appointed. It could’ve been a rail-loving hippy. But not even opening up the full public process is just shameful. And let me be clear. I’ve met Laing. Nice guy. Real smart. I think he’d be a nice addition. But this is all about Wallace, not Laing.

  4. The rail alignments get settled and now this? Glad I wasn’t the only one that noticed this in today’s paper.

  5. This paralysis in the Bellevue DPD is serious business and is pissing off business owners who can’t get their development projects processed in a timely manner.

    This is really a shocking development because when I lived in Bellevue, it was a point of pride that the city was run very efficiently. Well, Seattle will capitalize on Bellevue’s miscues.

  6. I’d guess that it being an issue never occurred to Kevin. It’s not in the realm of someone of his perceived class to be questioned.

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