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Dori Monson: There’s a real ethics problem in the City of Seattle

KIRO Radio's Dori Monson thinks the way the city attorney's office handled the pot purchase last week demonstrates an ethics problem in the City of Seattle.

Taken from Monday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.

I’ve been following this story of Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes violating city policy when he bought pot last week and brought it back to City Hall.

They did that classic late-Friday afternoon press release trick. Pete Holmes issued an apology Friday afternoon when they know there’s very little media coverage locally over the weekend, and they hope that people like me will forget about the story by noon on Monday. But I did not forget.

Our stoner city attorney, he wanted to make a statement to get in with the cool guys. He went and was fourth in line to buy some pot when the first legal pot shops opened on Tuesday.

“I’m here to personally exercise myself this new freedom,” said Holmes at Cannabis City in Seattle.

It’s his legal right to do so. But then Pete Holmes took the weed to City Hall, to his workplace, which is a direct violation of the rules for employees at City Hall.

Here is what is so disturbing about all of this. Twice last week, our reporter Brandi Kruse, she wrote emails to the city attorney’s office asking if he’d violated city policy.

Brandi’s first email asked: Did Pete violate the city’s Drug-Free Workplace Policy when he bought and, as a result, possessed marijuana on Tuesday?

Kimberly Mills, Communications Director for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office replied: No.

Brandi asked again, and again they said no. But she pushed on:

Brandi’s email: Is bringing pot to city hall not a direct violation of the policy?

Mills’ response: You’ve got our answers.

But Brandi didn’t let up:

Good morning,

We would really like to get an explanation of some kind as to how Pete did not violate the drug-free workplace policy when he brought his pot purchase back to city hall. This seems very clear to me, but perhaps I am missing something.

I have asked twice now whether he violated the policy, and been told no twice. If that is the case, I just need a bit more elaboration to understand how that is possible.

Thank you,


Mills replied to that around 9 a.m. Friday morning and said Holmes would be issuing a statement later in the day. At Friday, around 3:30 p.m. they released the following statement:

“The City of Seattle is a “drug-free workplace” under federal law, and our personnel rules reflect these sound workplace policies. Not only are controlled substances (like marijuana) banned from city offices, City employees cannot possess them while on City business.

So what is the rule when “City business” includes successful drug policy reform – specifically, transition from prohibition to a fully legal, regulated and taxed marijuana supply system? I was elected to drive such reform, and to eradicate the illegal marijuana market. I intended my public purchase at Seattle’s first legal store to bolster the transition.

The workplace rule has not changed, however. When I brought the unopened marijuana to City offices – trying to keep up with a busy schedule — I nonetheless violated the City’s rules. At the end of the business day, I took the marijuana home and left it there, still unopened, before I participated in the second Community Walk of the Mayor’s Summer of Safety.

I have discussed the violation with the City Personnel Department director, and I have volunteered to donate $3,000 to the Downtown Emergency Service Center. I apologize to my employees, all City employees and to the public.”

So is that how it works for all of us? We break a law or we break rules, and when we get dragged before a court by the city attorney, we can just say, ‘I’m going to make a charitable donation.’ And he’s going to say ‘Oh OK man, that’s cool.’ Is that how they’re going to handle every person that comes before them now? Just make a little donation and we’ll call it good. This is just ludicrous.

We have a lying head of Seattle City Light: I didn’t ask for a raise Jorge Carrasco. We have now a lying city attorney’s office, and the mayor’s office was initially refusing to answer our questions around the Jorge Carrasco.

Brandi thanked the city attorney’s office for the statement, but she still had questions, so sent off one more email:

Hi Kimberly,

Thank you for the statement.

We would like an explanation as to why the City Attorney’s Office twice told us “No” when we asked if Holmes violated the drug-free workplace policy. That answer is troubling, especially when it was clear at that time that he had brought the pot back to City Hall.

There seems to be an honesty issue at play here that is deeply disturbing, particularly in light of the Carrasco fiasco last week.

Kimberly Mills’ response: Brandi: You see dishonesty where in fact there was confusion. That’s all I have to say on this issue.

Oh, so he was confused. The city attorney, his mind was a little mixed up. He didn’t understand what the rules were. Try that when they give you a jaywalking ticket in downtown Seattle, which they love giving out. Try saying ‘Oh I thought I was on the corner. I didn’t realize I was in the middle of the block. I was confused man. And I’m going to make a donation.’ See how that works.

I hope that sets the standard for all of us. You get a speeding ticket: I was confused. I’m going to give $10 to the Union Gospel Center. This is crazy.

This is unbelievable that we have city officials who are routinely lying to the public, to us in the media. There is an ethics problem in the City of Seattle that is just off the chains right now.

Taken from Monday’s edition of The Dori Monson Show.

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