By Jack Mayne City Manager Michael Matthias told the City Council at last Thursday’s meeting (Jan. 11) that the city entering into an agreement with former Mayor and Councilmember Dave Kaplan will include a one year contract as a consultant on regional transportation issues. Kaplan will be paid at the rate of $100 an hour – for a maximum of $20,000 – in a contract that will expire on Dec. 31, 2018. “We have been able to establish a contract with former Councilmember Kaplan to advise us and support us on a transportation front and to take advantage of the huge amount of knowledge and history and perspective that Dave has,” Matthias said at the Council meeting. “It is amazing how much help he will be.” There were no comments at the meeting, with Councilmembers apparently briefed in advance. But some residents of Des Moines this past week questioned the use of the former mayor and councilmember. Most Washington cities have rules about using former Councilmembers as paid advisors after they leave office. Des Moines’ rules says that for “one year after leaving the city, a councilmember … may not hold or acquire a financial interest, direct or indirect, personally … in any contract” or assist any city official with such matters made by, through, or under their supervision.” A citizen said the Kaplan position “appears to trigger some potentially serious ethical violations by the new Council …” City attorney disagrees Attorney Tim George said Kaplan is no longer on the city payroll and using people with his deep background in city issues “has historically been a fairly common practice for us to temporarily retain an employee through a general professional services contract after they voluntarily separate from employment in order to ensure that important issues are adequately addressed during the transition process.” As for the part about a city councilmember not competing for a city contract “when they were involved in determining the scope of work or the selection process,” Kaplan is still able to do the work because “the scope of work and selection process was determined by the city manager and the Des Moines public works director…” Additionally, the issues were “discussed with Mr. Kaplan only after he left office” and the contract was not made “by, through, or under the supervision” of Kaplan and it does not involve anything that does violate the city code. George added that the city manager “has contracting authority for contracts under $50,000 and the required process was followed.” So the city says the contract is legal, and within the laws of the city.]]>