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Ethics complaint filed against Councilman Scales

Bainbridge Island City Councilman Bob Scales has been hit with an ethics complaint that claims his professional career conflicts with his service to the city.

Cindy Anderson filed an ethics complaint with the city via email on April 5 and sent a copy to City Manager Doug Schulze and each member of the city council.

The city released a copy of the complaint Monday, April 15, in response to a public records request by the Review.

In the complaint, Anderson suggested that Scales' job for the city of Seattle conflicts with his duties as a Bainbridge councilman.

"It is my belief that Council person Bob Scales failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest between his duties on the council with regard to police misconduct issues and his duties as an attorney working for the Seattle City Attorney's Office," Anderson said in her complaint.

"I also feel that Mr. Scales had and still has a conflict of interest between his duties as a Bainbridge Island council member and his job as compliance coordinator for the city of Seattle's Police Department," she wrote.

The city's Ethics Board will discuss the complaint at its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 15 at the Waterfront Community Center.

Scales said he does not believe the complaint will go far.

"The fact that I worked in the city attorney's office in Seattle does not present a conflict," Scales said.

He also noted that Anderson did not specifically say what part of the city's ethics code that he allegedly violated.

"Other than making general complaints about my service on the council, in terms of an ethics violation, she hasn't articulated one," Scales said.

"I'm hopeful that the ethics board will see that there's nothing there," he added.

Scales also noted that the complaint was emailed to the city, and therefore not signed. He questioned the legitimacy, as well as the validity, of the complaint.

"The complaint isn't an ethics complaint — it's just a general gripe," he added. "It creates a lot of needless publicity and concern that normally wouldn't go anywhere, except now that it is an official complaint."

The conflict of interest, Anderson claimed, relates to Scales' former position as director of the government affairs section with the Seattle City Attorney's Office.

Anderson alleged that while complaints against island police officers using excessive force were being made on Bainbridge, Scales was involved with Seattle's own controversy about police misconduct. In her complaint, she asked the ethics board if Scales' employment compromised or influenced his voting record.

Anderson also noted three incidents when Bainbridge Island police officers were accused of excessive force; in 2006, in 2008, and in 2009.

Anderson said Scales knew about the complaints about police officers but "managed to cover it all up with an executive session" and "was plotting behind closed doors to avoid the investigation of police misconduct."

Scales, however, said Anderson has it completely wrong. Scales said he was one of two council members that had pressed for an independent and outside look into the police department after city officials began receiving complaints.

"One of the first things that I and [Councilwoman] Kirsten Hytopoulos did was call for a management study," Scales said. "I was the one that initiated the Sam Pailca report to look at [Bainbridge police] investigations. Her allegations don't make sense."

Anderson and her family have a troubled history with the city. And in an email sent to Scales the day after she submitted her complaint, she warned Scales to keep her past out of her current complaint.

"While I am not accusing you of doing this or of planning to do this, I realize, based on past attacks by Ms. Bauer [former city manager for the city of Bainbridge Island], that I need to protect myself from further damages," Anderson wrote Scales.

"This is a formal notification that any attempt to use, or cause to be used, documents unrelated to the ethics complaint I filed against you that would be embarrassing to me or that damage my credibility, will be considered as an act of harassment from a governmental official," she wrote to Scales on April 6, further noting that Scales should refer to federal and state laws pertaining to extortion and blackmail.

Anderson and her husband, former Bainbridge police officer Scott Anderson, both filed federal lawsuits against the city in 2010. The lawsuits alleged the use of excessive force during an arrest, an arrest without probable cause, and the denial of the right to see an attorney.

Cindy (Cynthia) Anderson was arrested by Bainbridge police in November 2007 after an argument with her husband where she threatened to harm herself. She was taken to Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton and kept there against her will for a mental health evaluation, and her husband sought a court protection order the next day, claiming his wife had threatened to kill him.

Bainbridge police launched an investigation after learning one of her sons had reportedly taken a gun away from Anderson earlier after she threatened to shoot herself and others.

Bainbridge police said Scott Anderson tried to obstruct the investigation on his wife, and he resigned from the Bainbridge force in 2008. He later filed a $1 million claim against the city for damages.

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit against the city in 2011, and said Bainbridge officers had probable cause to arrest Cynthia Anderson.

Anderson's filing comes in the wake of concerns by city officials that the city's ethics complaint process is being used for political purposes.

Scales said that the process has been used to bully council members to influence their votes.

But since he is not running for council again, he said he doesn't understand what the purpose of Anderson's complaint could be.

"I don't understand why she's doing this now," he said. "It was certainly no secret that I worked for the city of Seattle. So why she's raising these issues three years later? I don't know what's motivating her."

"At this point, I'm not encouraging people to run for the council given the current climate," Scales added. "It's hard to get work done with all these distractions and having to defend yourself against needless allegations."

Editor Brian Kelly contributed to this report.

 

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