An Ethics Hearing Examiner – Grant Degginger – hired by the City of Snoqualmie late last year, recently issued a Finding of Facts after finishing an investigation and conducting an in person hearing with Parks and Public Works Director Dan Marcinko and resident Brian Jacobson, who filed an ethics code complaint against Marcinko in December.
Jacobson’s complaint alleged Marcinko’s involvement with the city’s former 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.
Jacobson stated 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.
Mr. Degginger ruled that Marcinko did violate the Ethics Code, stating “Marcinko admitted that he knew that his supervision of Ms. Billington presented an appearance of a conflict of interest, and that he should have disclosed the conflict and ceased supervision of Ms. Billington. While Mr. Marcinko claims that he did not become aware of the conflict until February 2017, the weight of the evidence suggests that he knew, or reasonably should have known, of this conflict by the end of February 2016.”
The ruling went on to state that based on Marcinko’s own statements, it was clear that at least from about February 2017 until October 2017, he knew that his failure to disqualify himself from supervising Ms. Billington and her contract was “a willful and knowing violation of the Ethics Code.”
Degginger recommended that Marcinko be subject to punishment, but did not recommend the violation be referred to the prosecuting attorney, stating there was no evidence of financial benefit to the business or Marcinko at the expense of the city; he had no direct or indirect beneficial interest in Ms. Billington’s contract with the city; evidence indicated Billington’s contracted services were performed; Marcinko admitted exercising poor judgement and cooperated with the investigation.
According to the Ethics Code, punishment for code violations come from the mayor. The ethics officer only determines if a violation occurred and can recommend if the violator should be subject to punishment.
Mayor Larson commented on the disciplinary actions taken:
“I committed to respecting and accepting the decision of an independent ethics hearing examiner. The examiner concluded that a violation of our code of ethics had occurred, but that the violation did not result in any financial loss to the City and citizens of Snoqualmie. In addition, and prior to the decision, Mr. Marcinko acknowledged and accepted responsibility for the violation. The Hearing Examiner referred any disciplinary actions to my office. On Friday, March 9th, I informed Mr. Marcinko that he would be disqualified from participating in our Pay for Performance program for all of 2018. I now consider this unfortunate matter to be closed.”
Every six months City of Snoqualmie senior staff members are eligible for a Pay for Performance incentive program where they are given a score during performance reviews – between 1 and 5 (1= poor; 5= superior). The score determines performance-based bonuses, typically between $1000 – $3000 bi-annually.
Larson added that over the past decade Marcinko consistently received high scores during program evaluations.