According to “Tacoma News Tribune” Staff writer, Lewis Kamb, in the Wednesday, March 9, 2011 edition, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland’s return from a 10-day business trip to Asia just might land her in the middle of an investigation for violating the city’s ethics code. It appears that her airfare was covered by using the frequent flyer miles of Lakewood businessman Ron Chow to cover roundtrip airfare costs. Mayor Strickland acknowledged that she did not seek advice from the city attorney regarding the gesture [gift] from Mr. Chow to see if there was a potential breach of ethics laws. Although it is not known why Mayor Strickland decided to leave at this time, especially in an economic downturn and deficits in the city budget, she mentions there was no personal gain and that she paid for her own lodging and meals, otherwise all the expenses she incurred would have been paid for by the city; saving us around $3, 251 just for the cost of airfare as reported on the travel website Expedia.
Mayor Strickland's concern for taxpayers is touching, but would not a ‘reasonable’ person think that Mr. Chow might want to benefit from his close contact with someone at City Hall who could influence the awarding of contracts to further expand Asian business opportunities in Tacoma and Pierce County, of which he would very likely have a part in? The thing is, Washington State Law and the Tacoma Board of Ethics in particular, says more-or-less, that a gift valued at more than $50 could be used to influence the official in consideration as part of a reward [pay back] for a particular [favorable] action or inaction. And for Mayor Strickland, would this not seem to pose a conflict-of-interest or at the very least the appearance of impropriety? Not only that, but it appears that Mr. Chow has some deep pockets and has contributed sizeable donations to local, state, and federal political campaigns, and doubtless was a supporter of mayor Strickland. So far, no complaint has been filed against Mayor Strickland in the office of the city clerk, but the Ethics Board and the Tacoma City Council should look into the matter and recommend some type of action, either in the way of a formal reprimand or sanction for violation of the law. Mayor Strickland, as the city’s Chief-Executive-Officer should have known better because the provisions of the law is clear on this matter and the fact that she doesn’t think her behavior is a breach of ethical conduct for a city employee is hard to believe.
776 Commerce St. #B-11
Tacoma, WA 98402
March 9, 2011
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