City staff post-employment restrictions tightened

June 3, 2011

The City Council voted May 3 to create a new section of city code that — in some circumstances — restricts former city employees from working for companies with which they negotiated, supervised or approved contracts during their city employment.

If the employee takes a job at such a company, he or she would face a $10,000 fine for violating any of four restrictions.

According to the new code:

First, for one year after leaving the city, an employee cannot accept a job with a company if he or she approved large contracts for that company and would work on the same project as he or she did at the city. The contracts are considered large if they total more than $100,000 during the employee’s last two years at the city.

Second, an employee cannot have a financial interest in any contract that he or she played a role in negotiating, supervising or awarding while working at the city.

Third, an employee cannot accept a job offer from a company if he or she knows or has reason to believe the offer has been made as compensation for his or her work while working at the city.

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Ethics ordinance a positive step forward

June 3, 2011

The City Council’s recent ethics ordinance — which most notably aims to keep employees from signing off on contracts in return for jobs — is a fantastic step forward. However, this ordinance should also apply to members of the Newcastle City Council.

The existing code of ethics was too broad and did not hold employees accountable, whereas the new ordinance does — through fines. This new degree of accountability should give residents a higher level of confidence in their government.

The ordinance — which applies to employees for one year after they leave the city — should also discourage suspicious situations from originating, such as the departure of former Public Works Director Maiya Andrews. After resigning in February 2010, Andrews took a job with contractor CH2M Hill, which she worked with on the Coal Creek Parkway and Newcastle Transit Improvement projects.

There is no evidence that Andrews used her power at the city to obtain a job with the company. In fact, City Manager Rob Wyman said it would be reasonable to assume she would not have been subject to the new regulations had they been in place when she left the city and joined CH2M Hill.

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Letters

May 6, 2011

Veteran Newcastle councilman to retire in December

I am writing to announce that after 17 years of community service, I will not be running for re-election to the Newcastle City Council.

I am proud of how far our community has come. When we struggled to incorporate the city of Newcastle, the then-Chair of the King County Council echoed Gertrude Stein’s opinion of Oakland, saying “There is no there there.”

Since incorporation in 1994, we encouraged the location of the prominent Golf Club at Newcastle on the site of an old landfill. We provided incentives for the location of a full-service YMCA — now overflowing with active users — and an 11,000-square-foot King County library, now under construction.

We encouraged the funding and construction of two new elementary schools in the city. We leveraged Newcastle’s small capital resources over this period to construct major street, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, like the $55 million Coal Creek Parkway project and the $4 million Newcastle Transit Center.

All these amenities have attracted a highly diverse population of new residents and the construction of a large number of new, high-valued homes. Since incorporation, our population has grown by almost 50 percent to its current 10,300 residents.

Newcastle is now “on the map.” It has become a highly desirable place to live, all the while maintaining the green canopy of parks and open spaces that characterize our community. Newcastle residents feel a sense of place, a sense of belonging to a real community of neighbors. Now, when we tell people that we live in Newcastle, they often respond “Oh, you live in Newcastle,” with eyebrows raised in admiration.

I hope the future leaders of our community will safeguard this legacy and sustain our community’s vision into the future.

Sonny Putter

Newcastle City Council

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Newcastle Transit Center adds Metro routes

February 9, 2010

NEW — 10 a.m. Feb 9, 2010

King County Metro Transit routes 240 and 114 added the Newcastle Transit Center to their routes Feb. 6.

Route 240 runs between Renton and Clyde Hill in Bellevue, and it runs between about 5 a.m. and midnight on weekdays, stopping at the transit center about every 30 minutes. Buses run every 30 minutes from about 7 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays, and every hour from about 8 a.m. to midnight on Sundays.

Route 114 runs from the Renton Highlands to downtown Seattle on weekdays only. Buses on this route only travel to Seattle in the mornings and to the Renton Highlands in the evenings. Buses will stop at the transit center about every 30 minutes from about 5:50-8 a.m. en route to Seattle and from about 4:50-6:20 p.m. en route to the Renton Highlands.

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Newcastle Way, Coal Creek Parkway to be partially closed until Aug. 17

August 10, 2009

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 10, 2009

The westbound lane of Newcastle Way will be closed on the east side of the intersection of Newcastle Way and Coal Creek Parkway from today until Aug. 17 for construction related to the Newcastle Transit Center project.

Coal Creek Parkway will be reduced to one lane on both the north and south sides of the intersection during the closure.

Drivers who want to access businesses on Newcastle Way between Coal Creek Parkway and 132nd Avenue Southeast will still be able use Newcastle Way to reach their destinations, but they will be unable to enter the Coal Creek Parkway and Newcastle Way intersection from the east end due to the closure.

Newcastle Communications Manager Doug Alder said there would be enough space in the intersection to allow left turns from Coal Creek Parkway onto Newcastle Way. A police officer will also be on hand during rush hour to help direct traffic through the intersection.

Eastbound traffic on Newcastle Way will not be affected.

For updates and closure details, visit the Newcastle city blog.