SDOT director receives fine for ethics violation over bike share program
Thursday, June 30, 2016 3:56 AM
By Brandon Macz
Following an ethics investigation into the Seattle Department of Transportation director's involvement in negotiating the start and expansion of the Pronto bike share program in the city, Scott Kubly has agreed to pay $5,000 for violating city code.
Kubly came to the city from Alta Bike Share, now known as Motivate, which continues to manage Pronto following the city's purchase of the bike share program for $1.4 million, to avoid its insolvency and having to repay $1 million from a federal grant to buy 28 of its 54 stations.
Kubly became SDOT director on July 28, 2014, having left Alta as president the month before. Before then, he had worked with Alta on bike share contracts in Washington, D.C., and Chicago as a deputy director.
Prior to joining the city, then mayoral counsel Lorena Gonzalez, now a city councilmember, notified Kubly that he should file a waiver to allow him to work with his former employer or recuse himself from such efforts to comply with Seattle's ethics code. Several more contacts between Kubly and Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission staff, and even an SDOT employee involved with Pronto, brought up the need for a waiver, according to the SEEC's settlement agreement, but Kubly did not file one between the time of his hiring to the end of 2014.
Pronto launched in Seattle in October 2014.
From January to August 2015, Kubly also did not file a disclosure form with the mayor's office regarding his prior employment with Alta and how it could be perceived by a normal person that it could affect his negotiations at the time for the expansion of Pronto in Seattle, according to the settlement agreement.
Kubly signed a disclosure agreement on Sept. 1, after spending 2015 seeking mayoral approval to expand Pronto and assume ownership of the bike share system, also seeking federal funding to achieve that expansion. That funding was denied.
The SEEC states discussions between Kubly and Alta CEO Jay Walder "led SDOT to formally propose taking over the bike share system." From April to August 2015, Kubly was actively involved in managing the city's takeover of Pronto. SEEC strategic advisor Gary Keese advised Kubly in May 2015 to file a waiver and disclosure, but none was filed, the settlement agreement states.
Due to these facts, the SEEC found Kubly violated a part of the ethics code that states an employee may not participate in a matter with a former employer in the preceding 12 months when there is a financial interest, unless a waiver is filed and approved by the SEEC executive director.
Under the agreement, Kubly agrees to pay the city $10,000 for the violation, however, the commission agrees to suspend $5,000 of that amount as long as the SDOT director does not have another ethics violation within the next two years.
The SEEC is slated to vote whether to approve the agreement on Wednesday, July 6.