News

Thumbs up twice for city manager

By ERICA HALL

Staff writer

Federal Way city manager David Moseley has been exonerated following accusations that he failed to disclose the appearance of a conflict of interest and that he unethically benefitted from a contract his wife holds with Sound Transit.

State Auditor Brian Sonntag sent a letter to the mayor of Federal Way, stating as of Jan. 14 that after researching state law, his staff found Moseley innocent of any ethical wrongdoing.

Before the investigation concluded, the City Council gave him a pay raise.

A group of Federal Way residents filed a complaint with the auditor last October, saying Moseley might have had a conflict of interest because Sound Transit has a contract with government affairs firm Cocker Fennessy, which is co-owned by Moseley’s wife, Anne Fennessy.

The residents alleged Moseley indirectly received compensation from Fennessy’s work with Sound Transit because they paid her firm for services.

The group that filed the ethics violation complaint, which included William Balogh, Kevin McNett, Cesar Zambonino, Michael McLeod, Raphael Plant, Lawrence Wilson and Mel Hinz, said Moseley should have disclosed his relationship with Fennessy prior to acting on council direction to sign an agreement with Sound Transit related to the transit center and parking garage slated for downtown Federal Way.

Moseley and Fennessy denied there was any conflict. Cocker Fennessy was hired by Sound Transit to raise public awareness and gauge public sentiment about Light Rail, according to Fennessy and Sound Transit officials, and Moseley said he doesn’t unilaterally sign city agreements and contracts — he does so at the request of the council.

In a two-month investigation, the auditor’s office found “no indication that (Moseley), when performing his services for Federal Way, has or can affect his spouse’s compensation from Sound Transit,” Sonntag said in his letter.

Dave Larson, an attorney who first brought the ethics questions to light at a council hearing last year, said he was disappointed in the decision and he’s debating whether to ask for reconsideration.

Though he’s staunchly critical of the transit center and parking garage project, Larson said the alleged ethics violation was independent of the project.

The intent of state ethics law, he said, is to “create not only the reality of ethics in government but also the appearance of ethics in government.”

Moseley said he valued the auditor’s decision and affirmed his commitment to Federal Way.

“I take my public role and trust the council and citizens need to have in me very seriously,” he said.

The council expressed its confidence and satisfaction in Moseley’s performance after his evaluation Dec. 16 — prior to the auditor’s decision. The council amended his contract Jan. 6 to give him a 1.53 percent cost-of-living adjustment and an 8 percent award payment based on performance goals set by the council last year, assistant city manager Derek Matheson said.

Each year, the council creates a work program and holds the city manager accountable for completing it. Performance pay is part of Moseley’s contract and is contingent upon him meeting the requirements set out by the council.

As of Jan. 1, Moseley’s annual base pay is $116,244 and performance pay is $9,299. His deferred compensation for the year will be $13,000.

Staff writer Erica Hall: 925-5565, ehall@fedwaymirror.com

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