Bainbridge councilwoman files complaint with Ethics Board

Bainbridge Island Councilwoman Rasham Nassar has filed an ethics complaint against a local architect who volunteered to serve on the city’s Affordable Housing Task Force.

In her complaint, she said that volunteer Jonathon Davis would financially benefit from a contract approved by the city for Olympic Property Group. OPG, a subsidiary of Poulsbo-based Pope Resources, was hired by the city earlier this year to help develop affordable housing on the city-owned land known as the Suzuki property.

“My concern is that Jonathon Davis, member of the Affordable Housing Task Force, is named as a beneficiary on the Professional Services Agreement between [the city of Bainbridge Island] and OPG for the development of the Suzuki property,” Nassar said in her complaint.

Nassar noted that Davis’ firm, Davis Architects, is a subcontractor for OPG, and the $796,000 contract approved by the council on June 12 says that Davis Architects will earn $190,000 as part of the agreement between the city and the developer.

The ethics complaint, made July 24, echoed concerns made by Nassar at the June 12 meeting when the council approved the contract with OPG by a 5-2 vote, with Nassar and Councilman Ron Peltier voting no. Nassar, at the meeting, said Davis’ involvement was one reason she was voting against the agreement.

The complaint made July 24 was similar to an email complaint sent to the city clerk and city attorney June 12, in which Nassar claimed “that a version of the development contract with OPG was approved by the Affordable Housing Task Force, of which Jonathon Davis is a member.”

Davis did not immediately response to a request for comment.

“I was encouraged to file a formal complaint to the Ethics Board by two of my fellow council members as well as members of the public after hearing the concern I raised at the June 12, 2018 council meeting,” Nassar said in a Wednesday email to the Review.

Nassar’s complaint, however, also included a portion of an email sent to her by Althea Paulson, who was chairwoman of the Affordable Housing Task Force, after the June 12 council meeting where Nassar claimed Davis had a conflict.

Paulson told Nassar that the task force made two recommendations on the Suzuki project, one in November 2017 and the last in January 2018.

Paulson also noted Davis did not join the task force until Feb. 27, 2018.

On Davis’ timing in joining the task force, Nassar said: “Whether this member was on the committee when the AHTF delivered their recommendation in support of the OPG/Suzuki project was not known to me at the time; regardless I perceived that task force support was consistent throughout the contract revision process, up until the June 12 date. I’ve been informed that the Ethics Board has discussed the complaint and will issue their formal response sometime in September.”

The city’s Ethics Board discussed the complaint at its last meeting, but has not yet taken any action on the item, said Councilman Joe Deets, the council’s liaison to the board.

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