Legislator calls for Sound Transit to reject pay raise for CEO Peter Rogoff

Nov 15, 2018, 11:22 AM

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff...

Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff. (Joe A. Kunzler)

(Joe A. Kunzler)

Sen. Steve O’Ban of the 28th Leg. District (R-Tacoma) was outraged to hear that Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff is set to receive a pay increase and at least three more years on the job in a new contract.

O’Ban, who has worked in the State Senate to reduce the cost of car tabs that have been heightened by Sound Transit taxes, released a statement this week calling for the Sound Transit Board of Directors not to approve the new contract.

Only a state agency with too much money would offer a pay raise of this magnitude, and to a CEO with such a troubled record. If approved, Mr. Rogoff will make over $425,000 a year in salary and benefits. This is outrageous and the Sound Transit board should consider the message it is sending to taxpayers: They are already over budget and behind schedule, but will reward mismanagement. What incentive does Rogoff have to stay within budget and complete projects on time? Not to mention that Rogoff has been under investigation for his abrasive management style and sexism.

This is a state agency that drafted an unconstitutional statute so that Sound Transit can use an inflated vehicle-valuation formula to collect its unfair and punitive car-tab fees.

RELATED: O’Ban hopes Sound Transit will be held accountable at state Supreme Court

“What other agency has so much money that they could afford to give their CEO, who has proven that he cannot manage competently the budgets and the timetable that Sound Transit has set and adjusts about every six months … a contract made in heaven?” O’Ban asked David Boze, who was filling in on the Dori Monson Show.

The agreement in question could provide Rogoff with six more years as head of the transit agency. The contract itself is for three years, but includes three potential one-year extensions.

“He has sort of no incentive to do his job well, if they basically have to keep him for that period of time,” O’Ban said.  “So I can’t see any private sector group that wants accountability for its CEO to offer a contract like this.”

O’Ban said that Rogoff’s pay would be increased to a base rate of about $360,000 annually, but that with benefits his pay would total $425,000.

Not only does Rogoff not deserve this reward due to his agency’s failure to complete projects on-time and on-budget, O’Ban said, but Rogoff also should face repercussions for his own behavior as CEO. Rogoff has come under fire for his treatment of employees and his offensive language in the office.

“If some employee were to sue Sound Transit or him for the way they’ve been treated by him, or the kind of environment that he’s created — that might license other people to be as harassing as, apparently, he’s been — then there’s no way to bring accountability to him under the terms of this contract,” O’Ban said.

The senator hopes that one of the Sound Transit board members will come up with an amendment to change the contract, but is not overly optimistic, as the board members are not elected by the people, but “appointed by county executives, the majority by the King County executive.”

“I think it’s just a terrible message to send to taxpayers, and it’s a terrible message to send to those who have to work with him … that’s why you get a contract like this, because of how unaccountable they are to taxpayers,” O’Ban said.

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Legislator calls for Sound Transit to reject pay raise for CEO Peter Rogoff