Ethics complaint against Councilman Scales rejected

The ethics complaint against Bainbridge Island City Councilman Bob Scales was thrown out Monday by the city's Ethics Board on the basis that it was not a valid complaint.

"I think we have to conclude that there really isn't an allegation at all," said Dennis Willerford of the Bainbridge Island Ethics Board.

The board met April 15 to discuss an ethics complaint filed by islander Cindy Anderson. The complaint alleges that Scales has held a conflict of interest since 2010 stemming from his job at the city of Seattle and his duties on the Bainbridge city council.

Scales' position in the city of Seattle's Attorney's Office has included work0 on police issues. At the same time, Bainbridge Island has been dealing with criticisms of its own police department, and Anderson claimed Scales' job in Seattle could have influenced how he handled the island's policing controversies.

But the Ethics Board found it difficult to address the complaint since it didn't specify any violations or set out how a violation occurred.

"The conclusion I come to, is that there is not even an allegation here," Willerford said.

His fellow board members agreed.

Willerford did state that he understood community concerns on the police department, but that the ethics complaint was not sufficient to address them.

"I think that Ms. Anderson has an underlying concern that a lot of people in the community and the city have regarding the conduct of police officers in recent years, and criticisms about the city's response to those officers," he said. "Are we looking for justice or are we looking to protect against lawsuits?"

"I think those are legitimate issues and there are ethical dimensions to that. But the real issue is whether there is an allegation of a violation of the ethics code, which is all we deal with," Willerford added.

The complaint against Scales is the second to be thrown out within a month's time. Another complaint was filed against Councilwoman Debbi Lester in March. The Ethics Board responded to that complaint in the same way it dealt with Scales'; throwing it out because it did not constitute a complaint or cite any violations of the city's ethics code.

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