David Faber

David Faber

Ethics complaint against City Council member David Faber dismissed

Hearing officer says allegations lack detail

PORT TOWNSEND — An ethics complaint filed earlier this summer against a Port Townsend City Council member has been dismissed by a hearing officer.

Peter Eglick, an attorney with Eglick & Whited PLLC of Seattle, wrote in his decision Thursday that the complaint, filed by Greg Overstreet on behalf of Joe D’Amico of Sequim, did not satisfy “precision and detail” in its allegations against council member David Faber.

Eglick, who serves as the city of Port Townsend’s ethics hearing officer, dismissed all three alleged complaints, saying either no violations occurred or they were minor if they did.

“Though Mr. D’Amico and Mr. Overstreet’s complaint against me was always meritless, I am nonetheless relieved to see this fact vindicated by Mr. Eglick’s dismissal,” Faber said.

“Mr. D’Amico has a history of abusing legal process to bully local governments whenever our community wants him to play by the same rules that everyone else is expected to follow, and he has wasted an unknown amount of taxpayer money in the process.

“I hope he has learned a lesson and will think twice before wasting our limited public resources in the future.”

Eglick wrote in his initial response July 31 that the complaint might be subject to dismissal due to city code that requires precision and detail. He outlined 10 points made in the complaint that could require additional information and gave Overstreet an opportunity to provide it.

Overstreet, on behalf of D’Amico, disagreed in a letter also dated July 31.

“His complaint is more precise and detailed than most city ethics complaints,” Overstreet wrote.

Overstreet said the city ordinance-based complaint process lacks discovery powers for a complainant and told Eglick the responsibility was his to investigate the allegations as the hearing officer.

“Therefore, complainant respectfully asks you to conduct the investigation necessary to answer the questions you present,” Overstreet wrote to Eglick.

The hearing officer’s ruling Thursday referred to the city code and its “more rigorous bar.”

“The suggestion that it is the obligation of the city’s ethics hearing officer to conduct an investigation at city expense even when allegations do not meet the [Port Townsend Municipal Code] standard for ethics complaints could turn this process into a tool for harassment underwritten by taxpayers,” Eglick wrote.

The complaint, filed with the city July 25, alleged Faber conducted special privileges for others, accepted employment reasonably expected to involve the disclosure of confidential information and the disclosure of confidential information for financial gain.

It specified Faber’s private representation of Silas Holm, who lives adjacent to property owned by the William Lawrence Short estate. It suggested Holm insisted on the city filing an abatement action against the Short estate and that Faber “championed” the cause.

D’Amico’s mother, Penne, is the executor of the Short estate.

Faber acknowledges defending Holm in a quiet title/adverse possession action brought by the Short estate, but he wrote in a letter to Eglick dated Aug. 4 that “the timeline of events make such violation(s) impossible.”

The complaint also said Faber should have recused himself from a City Council vote in June when the council voted 5-1 to reject a settlement offer to lift a lien on a property held by the Short estate.

Faber said his representation of Holm ended in December 2017.

Eglick turned away each complaint, stating they were “broad-brush” allegations. He called the argument of improper benefits a “bare stab.”

“The bare Violation 3 accusation does not even begin to offer supporting facts on how Holm inappropriately benefited or Faber improperly gained by the City Council’s decision,” he wrote.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.

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