Councilman looks to ease Metro's food and beverage ethics law

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 at 5:05pm

A few weeks ago, At-large Metro Councilman Charlie Tygard found himself the featured speaker at a military veterans’ function inside Piccadilly Cafeteria. There, he spoke –– and he also dined.

“I ate,” Tygard said. “Now, whether that was legal or not, I’m not sure. Probably not. Even though they have no legislation before us, I’m an elected official accepting a gratuity for a meal.”

Tygard’s decision to eat may have bordered the fringe of illegality because of a Metro 2005 ethics law, later updated in 2007.

“As it stands now, council members, employees and members of boards and commissions cannot accept any free food or beverages from anyone that has had, currently has or [is] likely to have a matter pending before Metro,” council attorney Jon Cooper said.

Looking to add what he calls “common sense” to Metro’s ethics law, Tygard has sponsored an ordinance that would set dollar caps on food, beverages and event admissions a Metro elected official, employee, board member or commissioner could accept. 

The bill goes before the council Tuesday, Oct. 18, for the first of three votes.

Council members, for example, could not accept more than $25 in food or beverage over the course of a year from a single source, under Tygard’s proposal. They could not accept discounted admissions, tickets or access to events in excess of $100 per year.

“Council members can’t go to a civic organization or to a homeowners’ association meeting now and legally accept any type of food item,” Tygard said. “I’m talking about coffee cakes or donuts. It’s a very uncomfortable situation.

“This would be an attempt to put some common sense back into the ethics ordinance, and still have appropriate limits,” he said. “We’re not talking about the ‘Golden Goose’ wining and dining us at Morton’s type of thing. We’re talking about, in one year, a $25 meal at the Kiwanis Club.”

The bill’s language specifically states, “If related in any way, directly or indirectly, to being an employee,” when referring to accepted food, beverages and events.  

When asked, Tygard said the law would apply to registered lobbyists who decide to pick up a dining bill for council members.

According to Cooper, an independent ethics task force in 2005 recommended council members accept no more than $100 in food from a single source each year. But instead, the council voted for a total ban of food and beverage acceptance.

Later, the law was updated to include not only elected officials, but also Metro employees and all boards and commissions.

In short, Tygard’s bill would relax the current ethics laws as related to food; however, it would be more stringent that original recommendations.  

14 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 10/13/11 at 5:00

Councilman Tygard loves for the Council members to get FREE stuff!
He was a big pusher of the taxpayer funding of 75% of Medical Insurance
for council members after only 8 yrs. Then as the virtual sole sponsor
of reducing that time served for the same benefit to kick in after only
about 49 months in order to help former Councilman Adam Dread
after suffering a mild heart attack! Of course, that short time frame
will be for everyone serving.

They get enough time with lobbyist and special interest without going
back to the old Steak and Bourbon circuit, or the Realtors providing
a spread before their council votes!

By: WayneR on 10/13/11 at 6:31

Isn't this the same "Mr. Ethics" Charlie Tygard who funneled $10K dollars of taxpayer money to the Bellevue Exchange Club when he was, and still may be, the club treasurer?

To quote The Enclave:

Here is the list of tax dollars to non-profit organizations that Mr. Tygard leveraged (all were approved by the Metro Council with no debate--with the exception to the Bellevue Exchange Club request, which was delayed for several months after Metro Finance learned that Mr. Tygard was an officer of the club--and signed by the Mayor):

$1,000 to the YMCA
$10,000 to the Bellevue Exchange Club

Mr. Ethics, indeed.


By: bartsdad on 10/13/11 at 6:47

Pay for your own dinner and stop worrying with something as silly as this. Get to work.

By: skeptic1 on 10/13/11 at 6:51

This is easy. Pay your own way, you freeloaders! Charge all your costs associated with attending these schmoozing events to your campaign expense fund. After all, your main benefit of attending these meet-and-greet dinners comes from getting re-elected.

By: girliegirl on 10/13/11 at 7:31

Well, while that sounds fine and dandy, elections are only once in a 4 year expanse. If you're a group here that's desiring the attention of Council, you're going to "do what ya gotta do" to get their attention. A FREE gov't car is far more questionable, in my opinion, and there are a ton of people in Metro using them right drive to lunch or some other destination other than the office. LOL

By: girliegirl on 10/13/11 at 7:32

From what I saw back in the 90s, Jack's BarBQ hosted a bunch of those "free dinners" for Council yet I never noticed him asking the Council for special privileges either. (just sayin')

By: macjedi on 10/13/11 at 8:07

Leave the rules in place. LEARN from the national example. Deregulation and the slipping allowance of "harmless" ethics flexibility is exactly how the big daddy greed-kings in Washington (Bush, et al) got us into these messes. Let's not model that behavior.

By: Mama Butterfly on 10/13/11 at 9:45

Hey girliegirl,
Some of us out here in cyberspace think you are actually Charlie Tygard just using a pretty crazy pseudonym. What say you?

By: breathofdeath on 10/13/11 at 10:06

This is the same Charlie Tygard who, after getting a cushy legal opinion from Metro attorneys supporting him, decided to thumb his nose at the will and intent of the voters who ratified the term limits amendment to the charter in the 1990's by deciding to run as an at-large after serving his 2 terms in district 35. I have no respect and even less use for this clown. He's actually making Ronnie "Sticky Fingers" Steine look like an honorable man.

By: govskeptic on 10/13/11 at 11:13

breathofdeath: Mind if I throw in an "Amen" to everything you stated? Lots of
gall and plenty of financial backing from a few wealth business
men have assisted Charley greatly, in spite of his Obliviousness
to the taxpayers!

By: Mama Butterfly on 10/13/11 at 12:46

Charlie not only admitted that his dinner at the military event probably wasn't legal, he then gloated about his unethical behaviors. Has he no shame? He has been involved in some ethically questionable circumstances in the past, but for some reason Metro seems unwilling to call him on them. For instance, his bookkeeping practice manages several HOAs in the Bellevue area. How is that not a conflict of interest? His brash behaviors in this instance suggest that he now believes he is untouchable. I am thrilled about this development though because I am a firm believer that pride goes before a fall, which means Charlie has a pretty wicked free fall awaiting him.

By: dargent7 on 10/14/11 at 4:37

This has got to be a joke, right?
$25.00 a year from "a single source"?
Is that including the tip?

By: sidneyames on 10/14/11 at 6:47

Coffee and donuts? No harm there except to the waistline. But full fledge dinners and more: NAW! Keep it simple. Snacks only.

And Mama, welcome back. Girlie is NOT Charlie in any way, shape or form.

By: Bellevuebullets on 10/14/11 at 8:06

Charlie Tygard always finds a new way to make a buck or get a free meal. How about his brother running a Youth Organization on Metro Parks property with exclusive rights to the fields. Coaches from other areas are not allowed to get a permit to practice at Edwin Warner Baseball fields. One coach has his permit and Scott Tygard got it from and and the next time the coach went to Metro Parks he was denied a permit to use the Fields. Do your research, Scott Tygard makes over $80,000 a year running WNSL, and that is what he actually reported. Then you have the Metro Government built Concession Stand that he runs and pockets. Maybe someone ought to look at the Councilman pointing fingers at everyone else once again!!!!