The following letter by Mayor Amy Walen is in response to an opinion piece titled, "How Ethical Is Our Government? Seattle Times Editorial Board Warns of Municipal Malfeasance". We agree with Mayor Walen that Kirkland was not referred to in the Seattle Times Editorial Board. We apologize if that inference was taken. - Ed
I appreciate that Kirkland Views supports holding local governments accountable to high ethical standards and transparency. I think all members of the City Council would heartily agree. I’d like to assure the readers of the Views that Kirkland is not one of those jurisdictions referred to in the Seattle Times. The residents and businesses of Kirkland can remain confident that our City is a fair, ethical and accountable government.
Unlike those cities, the Kirkland City Council has elevated transparency and openness in local government as a top priority. In 2011 this Council adopted an updated Code of Conduct. In February of 2012 we adopted a stricter, more transparent Code of Ethics. To ensure objective, impartial enforcement of the Ethics Code, Kirkland contracts with the widely respected Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission. In 2013 Kirkland adopted an innovative Public Records code and set of Rules that have set a standard for the entire state. The City of Kirkland has won a number of awards from the Washington Coalition for Open Government and the Association of Washington Cities for transparency and innovation in open government as a result.
City staff presents a twice yearly public records report to the City Council and it so happens that the first report of this year was presented to City Council at the last meeting on July 19, 2016. Anyone can view the report given to the Council and note that we have seen steady progress in response times for completed public disclosure requests and, even as the amount of requests grow, response time to the requests remain well within the five day expectation.
Every year the State Auditor reviews Kirkland’s financial reporting, internal controls and compliance with local, state and federal financial policies and regulations. Kirkland has not had an Audit finding since 2006. Our “culture of accountability” was recognized in 2015 by the Washington State Auditor’s Office when they presented us with the Stewardship Award as a government “who goes above and beyond in their transparency with the public and their stewardship of public funds.”
I appreciate your call to hold local government officials to a high standard and I ask that you remind your readers that Kirkland is not like other cities. If Mr. Butcher or any reader of the Views has concerns about the conduct of any person in the City organization, I would be happy to meet with them to discuss it, and so would any of my Council colleagues. This City Council is dedicated to ensure the highest standards and practices for conduct, ethics, accountability and transparency.
Mayor Amy Walen