We now have more details into the ethics investigation against Seattle Department of Transportation Director Scott Kubly. They’re embarrassing: Kubly doesn’t know how to use email. Worse, the mayor’s office didn’t seem to understand the importance of following up.
According to the Seattle Times, Kubly was asked to fill out and submit a conflict of interest form given his ties to the bike-share program that the city was set to do business with. Then an attorney with the Mayor’s office, Lorena Gonzalez (now a city council member) emailed Kubly the form and asked him to respond. He did. Only, she never got it.
For some reason, he sent the email from his personal account to his government account, but never to Gonzalez or any other member of the administration. Two years later, he’s being investigated for an ethics violation, as he didn’t properly disclose the conflicts in an official capacity.
The man in charge of Seattle’s transportation can’t figure out email; perhaps we shouldn’t be shocked, then, that Seattle traffic problems are what they are.
Is this a big deal as far as scandals are concerned? No. Kubly was touted for his ties to the bike-share program that would go on to own Pronto! and everyone knew he would be their advocate. He clearly violated the rule, but he did show an intent to send in the form; he should be hit with the fine for violating the rule and we don’t have to pretend that we uncovered Watergate.
But, we should be concerned with the mayor’s office.
Gonzalez and Mayor Ed Murray clearly knew of the conflict, which is why Kubly was asked to submit the form when he was brought on. Why wasn’t there a follow-up from the mayor’s office? You send one email and you move on? Perhaps they didn’t care about this conflict, but it seems ridiculous and irresponsible that no one followed up on this issue. How many other conflicts are there that we don’t know about because of sloppy follow-up and record keeping?
There should have been follow-up and there wasn’t, turning a relative non-story into an ethics complaint against a director who has been in over his head from day one. Perhaps his inability to send an email correctly should have clued us in at that point?