On January 23, 2018 an Ethics Hearing Officer hired by the City of Snoqualmie in early December ruled that a complaint submitted by Snoqualmie resident Brian Jacobson alleging that Park and Public Works Director Dan Marcinko violated the city’s Code of Ethics was legally sufficient and supported by probable cause.
In the complaint Jacobson alleges Marcinko’s involvement with the city’s Contract Event Planner, Leslie (Lizzy) Billington, in a separate Wine and Spirits business while also acting as her city supervisor violated paragraph 2.80.030.A.1 of the Ethics Code.
With the submission of the complaint, Jacobson stated that the separate business partnership created a conflict in the proper discharge of Marcinko’s “official duties in supervising Billington’s contractual relationship with the city and approving payments to her.” The complaint also stated Marcinko did not disclose the conflict nor did he disqualify himself from his supervising role of the contract.
In an October City Council meeting where the city faced harsh criticism over the handling of Ms. Billington’s contract and the separate business was brought to light by citizens, Mayor Larson stated the wine and spirit company had not done any business at city events, adding that it really had never done any business since incorporation.
Ethics officer Grant Degginger stated in his Legal Sufficiency and Determination of Probable Cause ruling that he received a copy of the complaint on December 20, 2017 and then reviewed and investigated.
The ruling means the complaint will move to the next step laid out in the City’s Ethics code where a private hearing will be held with Jacobson, Marcinko and Degginger.
That hearing is required to occur sometime within 30 days of the January 23rd probable cause ruling. After its completion, Degginger will have 20 days to render his written findings and recommendations to Marcinko, Jacobsen, the mayor and city council.
According to the Ethics Code, there can be different outcomes from the hearing, including the ethics examiner determining the allegations were minor or inadvertent – even if proven – and “be summarily dismissed without further proceedings if the officer or employee stipulates in writing to appropriate corrective measures to ensure such conduct will not continue or reoccur.”
The ethics officer may also determine that Marcinko violated the provisions of the ethics code and recommend to the mayor that he be subject to disciplinary action. Per the ethics code, a violation could be “cause for suspension, discharge or removal from office, or such other disciplinary action as may, by the appropriate city authority, be deemed necessary and proper, and consistent with the city personnel manual, and/or state law.”
If disciplinary action is taken as a result of the ethics hearing officer’s recommendation, a written report of that action is required to be given to the ethics officer within 14 days after receipt the recommendation.
City Attorney Bob Sterbank stated he did not know the date of the upcoming hearing, only that it would occur within the timeframe outlined in the Ethics Code.