Submitted By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Recently elected Mukilteo, Washington Mayor Jennifer Gregerson hired a friend and fellow politician to the position of Policy Analyst position created after her election. Of the fifteen applicants who submitted interest in the position the mayor hired the person who provided a significant campaign contribution.
State Senator Marco Lias, who represents the21st district in which Mukilteo is situated is now a Policy Analyst.
His efforts provided $5,000 to the mayor’s election.
The Washington Public Disclosure Commission, the agency that oversees and publishes campaign contributions, indicated the following:
The PDC filings show that in October 2012, Marko Liias’ political fund donated $11,000 to the 21st Democrats, which is chaired by Jennifer Gregerson.
Two days later, the 21st Democrats gave $10,000 to the “One Washington Pac” which is directed by Marko Liias.
Then, a year later, the Pac spent more than $5000 on a direct mail flyer that helped Gregerson win the mayor’s race.
After the mayor was elected, the Policy Analyst position was requested by the mayor of the city council. The council created the position and State Senator Liias was awarded the job by the mayor.
Moreover State Senator Liias will be away from his duties as Policy Analyst while the state senate is in session. This requires months of absence from his position. Mayor Gregerson in an interview with King5 News stated: “We’ll be able to save money in our department by having months when he’s unpaid, and because he’s really qualified.”
The position was to be a full time position. So were the other job candidates allowed to take months off per year?
One has to wonder what constitutes “really qualified” over the other applicants who submitted resumes. According to Vote WA, Sentor Liias’ qualifications are as follows:
Education: (times and places of schools, colleges, major, degrees, activities, sports)
Attending, Public Administration, University of Washington
BSFS, International Politics,Graduated, Georgetown University, 2003.
Profession: (profession and work experience outside politics)
Rep. Liias has worked as a freelance journalist, researcher, and most recently as a small business owner. For five years, Rep. Liias helped lead a small family business specializing in green residential construction. It was his involvement in the local chamber of commerce that led Rep. Liias to consider public service.
Civic: (past and present organizations, charities involvement)
Member, American Society for Public Administration, 2003-present
Member, Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish County, 2003-present
Member, Built Green of King and Snohomish County, 2004-2008
Member, Mukilteo Chamber of Commerce, 2004-2008
Board Chair, Mukilteo Lighthouse Festival Association, 2005.
Political: (dates and titles of previously held political offices)
In 2005, Rep. Liias was elected to the Mukilteo City Council, where he served for two years. He sponsored the city’s first biofuels ordinance, to promote the use of biofuels at local service stations. Rep. Liias also helped position the City of Mukilteo as the lead opponent of commercial air service at Paine Field.
In January 2008, Rep. Liias was appointed to the House of Representatives. In his first session, Rep. Liias sponsored new laws to promote affordable housing, improve consumer protection resources, and provide better training to school personnel.
After his election to a full term in November 2008, Rep. Liias was selected as Vice Chair of the House Transportation Committee. He also serves on the Agriculture & Natural Resources, Community & Economic Development & Trade, Education, and Rules Committees. Rep. Liias also represents the House of Representatives as a member of the Trade and Transportation Committee of the Council of State Governments – West
The information on other applicants is not readily available for this article nor the job description for the position.
According to King5 News, concerned city council members say Liaas shouldn’t be collecting two government paychecks, both funded by taxpayers.
“Our major concern is I don’t believe he can do both jobs at the same time,” said Council President Randy Lord. “There’s a perception that people believe that there’s payback.”
Councilmember Steve Schmalz, who lost his own bid for mayor in the primary, says a citizen asked him to look into campaign finance documents filed with the state public disclosure commission–and what he saw looks fishy.
“It looks like there’s a political debt that was paid back, that the mayor owed, this is like a political payback,” said Schmalz. “One could look at it that way if you follow the money.”
Mayor Gregerson offered a rebuttal: “I don’t think that there’s a conflict, I think he’s able to do the work for our city and represent us.”
Mayor Gregerson’s critics would say this looks like a conflict of interest and it just looks like it was rigged, “help me get elected and I give you a job.”
“That’s certainly not what happened and not what the process has been about,” Gregerson said.
When asked if this was rigged and if he promised the job, State Senator Liias said “No. The job didn’t even exist until Feb or March. I don’t remember when the job description was approved sometime this year. So certainly, I can’t be promised a job that doesn’t exist.”
The senator does not seem to recognize, at least as evidenced by his statement, that the position was created after the politician he provided money to was elected, and that he was the one who received the position.
Since the council can’t fire Liias and the mayor vows to keep him, it looks a stalemate.
The an old political practice seems to be true in Mukilteo. Campaign positions are financed, financiers receive jobs. But according to the mayor, he was really qualified.
By Darren Smith
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