November 02, 2005
Sims campaign shakes down county permit applicant

Pacific Raceways in Kent is seeking county permits to build a karting track on an existing parking lot.

I obtained this very interesting e-mail written by someone with an interest in helping Pacific Raceways:

Ron Sims' campaign folks have said that if Pacific Raceways can host a successful fundraising function for Mr. Sims, then somehow the permit reviewer might be convinced of the silliness of his position, and the permit can be issued. (I hate this stuff).
Read the whole thing. [redactions are mine to protect the author's identity]. I made some calls and confirmed this is for real.

Note that there were several donations made to the Sims campaign on 10/06/2005 by people with racing sport affiliations, people on the To: list of the forwarded e-mail, and by Paul Zalud, who is the contact person on the Pacific Raceways permit application. You'll also note that the To: list includes the name of someone who is a county building inspector.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at November 02, 2005 11:07 PM | Email This
1. Sheesh. So Stefan, you've been going about this all wrong.

If you had just organized a Sims campaign fund dinner, you might have gotten better response from KCREALS with respect to all of your public records requests. If only you'd known that it was this easy to grease the wheels.

Posted by: Jeff B. on November 2, 2005 11:34 PM
2. Stefan.....

Oh My God!

Posted by: Deborah on November 2, 2005 11:45 PM
3. People better go to jail for this one!

Posted by: Matt from Olympia on November 2, 2005 11:46 PM
4. So what we've heard elsewhere IS true!!!!!
I'd next like to see the memo for REdmond Ridge.

Posted by: PLEASE STOP THIS CORRUPTION on November 3, 2005 12:01 AM
5. This is cheese with a capital C.

Posted by: South County on November 3, 2005 12:05 AM
6. It has been rumored for years that the best way to get a permit approved in King County .. was to pay off inspectors or their bosses.
The corruption runs very deep.

I'll bet the Times and the PI won't even cover this.

Posted by: Skeptic on November 3, 2005 12:10 AM
7. That's it.

Corruption charges need to be filed against the Sims campaign, and he needs to be forcibly removed or elected out.

And the Times/P-I won't run with the story...unless they get pressured to. And trust me, the pressure is now on them.

Posted by: Sailor Republica on November 3, 2005 12:16 AM
8. Get the feds. Now.

Posted by: Misty on November 3, 2005 12:25 AM
9. Why are y'all surprised at this? this is "politics as usual" for those who graduated from the "Richard Daley Institute Of Political Arm-Twisting, etc.", based out of Chicago.

I agree: the local papers/news stations WILL NOT lift one keystroke of protest nor exert one ounce of effort in investigating this overt corruption and influence-peddling by Sims & Co.

This is just one reason (out of THOUSANDS) why David Irons needs to replace Sims as King Co. Executive next tuesday!

Posted by: PromptJock on November 3, 2005 12:26 AM
10. Sorry, folks. No email or other documented correspondence from King Ron's campaign, and all you have are unsubstantiated accusations of a confessed right-wing racetrack investor, who would presumably like to see King Ron dethroned. Unless the Sims people were dumb enough to talk to more than one guy, which they probably weren't, or to put it in writing, which they probably weren't.

Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm just saying, you know this is what they're gonna say.

Now, if a permit has actually been issued, that's some quo for the quid, and if it can be demonstrated that a permit would not normally be issued for such a project, that's something to go on.

If a permit has not yet been issued, those with a financial interest in the track might wake up, smell the coffee, and figure that given this public exposure, no permit ain't never gonna be issued, and the best they can do to express their gratitude for being jerked around and squeezed for cash is to offer up evidence and testimony to help the prosecution.

PromptJock is right: the problem is Sims, and the solution is Irons. Think of voting on Tuesday in the same way that Mel Gibson's character in We Were Soldiers thought of his role on the battlefield: first one to step on, last one to step off, with no one left behind. Make sure all of your friends turn out, because this one will be decided by turnout. Those who hate Sims hate him far more passionately than those who like him like him, and that gives us an edge in turnout, but remember, we have to win by 50% + 20,000 votes. So nag your friends, and make sure you don't leave them on the battlefield.

Posted by: TB on November 3, 2005 12:57 AM
11. What's next? "Protection Money"?

I actually feel sorry for the guy, in a strange way. It's obvious that he really doesn't want to be King County Executive. ("But, YourGov, how can you say that? He's running for re-election). Well, we're talking about a guy who has run for "higher" offices and lost. Only a year ago he was running in the Democratic primary for Governor.

He does NOT want to be King County Executive - and I think we should help him out with that.

(As an aside, that would have been a major theme of my campaign, had I been running against him: "My opponent really doesn't want this job.")

Posted by: YourGovernorCostsMillion$ on November 3, 2005 03:28 AM
12. I wonder if the "shake-down" came from Sims feared and controversial Secret CLOWN Squadron.
Who wouldn't give up the payoff money if confronted by 6----6'5" CLOWNS with their Red Rubber Noses, Floppy Shoes and very mean painted on CLOWN Faces!

Posted by: Mr. Cynical on November 3, 2005 06:11 AM
13. This is no surprise. I too had heard of these Sims/permit deals in the past. A few years back, there was a big controversy over a house in the Finn Hill area of Kirkland. The owner, a wealthy hat maker from Asia, wanted to build a "Mega House" in a residential area. There was an existing house on the property. The "Mega house" was 25,000 sq ft., which was 10x bigger than any home in the area at the time. The house has 24 toilets, 6 urinals, 17 showers and 36 sinks. All of this for 1 husband/1 wife/1 child. There was a big scandel when the neighborhood took legal action and uncovered some shannanigans with a DDES permitting officer who admitted being "pressured" from higher up to approve the permit, even though the officer has SERIOUS reservatioins and didn't want to. After the officer spoke up, I recall hearing that he was suddenly reassigned. The word was that Sims had been a benificiary of financial contributions to his campaign from the owner of the property. The house got built, the pre-existing house was never demolished, and the courts did nothing to stop it.

I have no doubt this raceway story is true. It shows that if you grease the palms of the corrupt Sims with campaign contributions, your permit troubles will go away.

It also is just one more reason to make sure we VOTE THIS GUY OUT OF OFFICE!!!! Enough of the corruption. It's time for a change.

Posted by: mimi on November 3, 2005 06:29 AM
14. this real, or not? All we have here is anecdotal evidence, from a person of opposite political affiliation of Sims. I would be suspicious (the phrase "trust but verify" comes to mind.)
The problem is in verification. Who are you going to ask to verify this? All the people on the list are going to deny, to avoid the stench of corruption. I'll bet there are no paper documents for this, and it was all verbal "agreements."
If it's true, somebody needs to learn the penalty for such actions.
If it's false, then somebody also needs to learn the penalty for their actions.
I'd like to think it's true, but it smells too good (bad?) to be true. Unless, of course, somebody can find proof admissible in a court of law about this.

Posted by: pseudotsuga on November 3, 2005 07:04 AM
15. Gee, since it’s a Democrat involved, I’m sure the claim will be a “Bureaucratic snafu” and not corruption. ;-) But if it were a Republican, you can bet criminal charges would have been brought yesterday. I guess the double standard grows out of the fact that we have lower expections of Democrats than Republicans.

Posted by: Tim on November 3, 2005 07:19 AM
16. Gee, since it’s a Democrat involved, I’m sure the claim will be a “Bureaucratic snafu” and not corruption. ;-) But if it were a Republican, you can bet criminal charges would have been brought yesterday. I guess the double standard grows out of the fact that we have lower expectations of Democrats than Republicans.

Posted by: Tim on November 3, 2005 07:20 AM
17. This is the standard MO for mayor and county exec races.

There is the old saying "he who has the gold makes the rules".

Thank goodness for blogs so some of this stuff can get out there.

I have several incidents like the above in another county up north.

Posted by: baffles on November 3, 2005 07:26 AM
18. Folks come on this "might be" a set up by sum rascally repubiblikan racin' hick? Shakedown. Sims makes Huey Long and Daley family look almost tame by comparison. As for the papers and KINGkomoKIROkcpq they just keep praying (small p praying) for another natural disaster or make up another bird flu/y2k fake story or more snow in the mountains to yell evidence of global warming rather than upset the vote making cart.

Keep it going shark and you all keep tellin' yer friends what you're dunn readin' hear and we'll git them there Irons guy in that there office. I knows we are not so smart as that Trayhanta Peeeye guy and Farmcherner guy or what ever at the Timez but we knows when we been being had just a little to much. Right Sam Reed?

Posted by: Col. Hogan on November 3, 2005 07:41 AM
19. Gosh, I never thought I would say this, but thank goodness, that Chris G won the democratic primary and therefore become the "shoe-in" for Governor of this state with her democratic machine stolen election.

Imagine what might be happening in Olympia if Sims were extorting money out of businesses.

Actually, I wonder what Chris G and her party machine are up to..................

Posted by: bob on November 3, 2005 07:41 AM
20. Blackmail is when you extort money from someone in order to suppress information.

This is just extortion.

Posted by: H Moul on November 3, 2005 08:04 AM
21. Hi . . . This is not "Blackmail", Kickbacks". If folks will take the time to read the built in attachments (underlined), you will see how disgusting the King of KC; i.e. county ex, pretends to be.
. . . . The permit in question was applied for in March 05, with a value of $22,000, and now 8 months later, the Sims team is demanding political contributions to permit to be approved. . . . Bill
PS: This message was sent to my mailing list

Symphony is the "Basis" of a "Clueless" Mentality
Empathy will provide solutions

EMPATHY combined with Personal Responsibility is a SOLUTION.

· SMPATHY is just a depletion of our full plate of taxes

Posted by: Bill Serr on November 3, 2005 08:12 AM
22. Stefan, Im honestly a little concerned for your safety. I am a huge supporter of yours, but with this kind of corruption in seattle politics, I would fear that some morning you may be crossing the street and some big black limosine may run you down. (this is not a veiled threat by some left wing wac job, Im sincere) I think your doing an incredible job, I support you, keep the heat on.

Posted by: hookr23 on November 3, 2005 08:27 AM
23. Machine politics is what it is all about. This is no different than the cabal that controls Detroit, Washington DC, Cleveland New Orleans or Tacoma. Everything is based on whether or not you are ‘connected’ those who are get political ‘favors’ and those who aren’t don’t get them. The unfortunate part is that the majority of voters in these regions think that they are profiting personally by supporting this corruption. Some may profit in the short run (always at someone else’s expense), but most will end up less well off, some dramatically so.

Posted by: JDH on November 3, 2005 08:43 AM
24. I heard a recording of part of yesterday's Sims interview with Mike Siegal. Sounds like he is STONED! (Maybe it's just the stress). Now this... And Sims was a minister, wasn't he?

"Narrow is the Gate!"

Posted by: GregM on November 3, 2005 09:00 AM


Posted by: TACOMA PHLASH on November 3, 2005 09:17 AM
26. Fellow Tacoman,

Our Democrat is Calvin GoinGs. So, unless there was some kind of drop of the "g" somewhere, I don't believe it is.

Posted by: Doug Taylor on November 3, 2005 09:56 AM
27. Looks like permit approval on 10/20/05 to me.

Anybody care to lodge an ethics complaint?

Posted by: AUssie Rob on November 3, 2005 10:02 AM
28. Obtained or invented? Aye, we wonders, yes we do...

Posted by: Third Party Voter on November 3, 2005 10:15 AM
29. Someone should go to JAIL for this one!

Posted by: Right Wing Wacko on November 3, 2005 10:43 AM
30. More of the KCE Clown show.

Posted by: Laurie on November 3, 2005 10:55 AM
31. It looks like the name of the hat maker who built a 24,000 square foot home in Kirkland is Chao-Chin Chu. All the surrounding homes are assessed between $300,000-$400,000.
Maybe someone who knows how to look up campaign contributions can look to see if Mr. Chu has made any recent donations to Sims. He might not need to any more since he got what he wanted already.

Posted by: Susie on November 3, 2005 11:26 AM
32. I think Sims is busted, organize an anti-corruption rally, get 100 people to picket in front of Sims campaign office and the MSM will have to cover this. Ill be there. Strike while the IRONS is hot.

Posted by: hookr23 on November 3, 2005 11:32 AM
33. I heard Sims interview on Siegel yesterday. Siegel asked him about the ethics complaint for having his 'driver' take him in his county-owned Lincoln Towncar to campaign events. Sims made a statement that there are '85 names in the book'of people that are out to do him physical harm...and that was why he needed a Sheriff's escort wherever he went. It was really surreal...and Siegel didn't really pick up on it. I was thinking that this guy really has deluded himself into a position of grandeur...I'd like to see just how real the 'names in the book' are ...sounded like he was completely paranoid.

Posted by: BigCaddy on November 3, 2005 12:07 PM
34. Susie-great info on the property owner of the "Mega House." Campaign contributions during the time of the permit being issued would have been a few years back, so not sure if he would still be contributing, but it's worth a look if someone could find out.

Posted by: mimi on November 3, 2005 12:13 PM
35. Mimi-You never know...he may be indebted for a lifetime. It's certainly worth a look.

Posted by: Susie on November 3, 2005 12:16 PM
36. I find this one impossible to believe. The fact is that Ron Sims has never done business like this. The fact is that there are constantly employees in King County who wish to hint, suggest, imply, that they have a hidden handshake agreement with Ron Sims to get the things they want. There is some "quid pro quo" in county business that goes around. It's part of the job description. The hanger oners eventaully have to learn to produce or leave their job.

Now that being said, I think Ron Sims still owes Stephan a day in his office with Dean Logan and a few computers.

Posted by: holt on November 3, 2005 04:17 PM
37. This guy is the permit reviewer? Email him and ask him if it's a mine. Note he is an engineer II. Not a IV

David Ratte Engineer II

Council Member is hammond,steve

Who is the campaign staffer that suggested this? Or was it an anonymous call? There is a credibility issues with this item.

Posted by: holt on November 3, 2005 04:34 PM


Posted by: TACOMA PHLASH on November 3, 2005 04:37 PM
39. Do check on Sims PDCs for a Jason Fiorito who has gotten multiple favors for his race track.

Posted by: Barry Nunn on November 3, 2005 05:57 PM
40. Do check on Sims PDCs for a Jason Fiorito who has gotten multiple favors for his race track.

Posted by: Barry Nunn on November 3, 2005 05:57 PM
41. Sounds like King County is taking over where the old Soviet union left off - with bribery for campaign contributions. Another reason for a Sims recall - if that chimp gets reelected (in the words of Ted Nugent)...

Posted by: KS on November 3, 2005 09:30 PM
42. Is there anything about this email that couldn't have been assembled after the fact? Any corroborating evidence at all? Anything that would rise to the level of a legitimate news story, let alone the criminal case you people seem to have been looking for for oh so very long?

Also, do you think referring to a black man as a chimp might not be the best thing for your credibility?

Posted by: noodles on November 4, 2005 12:10 AM
43. Noodles...

If you want to ignore the e-mail, you can't ignore the official KingCo records of the permit applications/approval and the official PDC records of donation dates, amounts and donors. The permit is first requested in March. The County appears to drag their heels for months. A number of donations from track-related folks are recorded on 10/6 and then, suddenly, on 10/20 the project gets approval. The Sorrento Hotel *might* even confirm whether or not the 10/5 fundraising event was held, but a major newspaper could probably get it.

The only thing you don't have is the smoking gun of Sims or one of his staffers making or accepting the offer. However, where there is smoke there's usually fire and the timing couldn't be more suspicious.

Posted by: Mark on November 4, 2005 01:44 AM
44. BTW, has anyone tried to contact the MSM -- TV, newspapers, radio -- about this story? It would seem to be of critical importance to the election.

Posted by: Mark on November 4, 2005 01:45 AM
45. AUssie

That's a surface water adjustment variance approval permit. The "L__V___" tells you that its a request for a Variance from either King County's Road Standards or -- based upon the information at the DDES website, in this case, the Surface Water Design Manual -- to be supported by a rational technical argument by the applicant's design engineer. Typically one of several permits required from development proposal (often includes, an "SR" number for the engineering plans for construction work, or an "SI" for the inspection of the construction as it appears that the KC inspector employee might later do), but not an underlying project approval, associated with a request from an applicant to develop the property. Most typically associated with a request to combine on-site existing sub-basins so that a developer can build one correspondingly larger stormwater storage and treatment facility (which reduces the construction and, later, maintenance) rather than multiple, smaller storage and treatment facilities around a site.

With subdivisions, for example, SWM Variances (and Road -- design Variances) have to get through the process and be reviewed and approved by a group (at DDES for the Drainage Variances, and the DOT County Road Engineer's office) doing work independant review of the remainder of the underlying permit review staff (for subdivisions, for example, the subdivision application would have an associated "L__S___" or "L__P___" for short plats or 'full' subdivisions, permit) before the project is sent to the County's Hearing Examiner (a member of Council, not County Executive, staff -- and Mike C's 'hero') for consideration of preliminary approval with any conditions of permit approval (payment of school district fees, construction of road improvements in the public right-of-way that will necessitate review and approval of engineering plans by the applicant's consultant, of on-site recreation spaces, mitigation fees paid with the later home building permits, etc...) in an open public hearing.

Now, I can't comment on the use of the email (from a Building Services Division employee who wouldn't be involved in the underlying permit approval or environmental review process -- he's not in the correct Division of KCDDES... so, unless you want to go really paranoid and wonder who was on the "bcc:" list in the email...), or,

...the underlying assertion as to whether the Sims' campaign staff tried to twist an arm for a donation. I wasn't there. You weren't there. And until some corroborating evidence comes in -- like for Scooter Libby or Tom DeLay --it is an allegation. It's an intriguing allegation, and worthy of the Shark's time, but, going too paranoid (like John C's allegation last night during the 5:30 period) simply makes us look like the right-wing version of moonbats.

Of course, you are free to turn to the model that the LLL's use.

Posted by: TF on November 4, 2005 04:32 AM
46. TF - Great analysis. No, I don't want to play the liberal's game (although the temptation to say "where there's smoke....." is tantalizing!)

sims (IMNSHO) isn't a criminal, nor is he stupid. He's just not terribly bright. I've never seen evidence of a significant sense of ethics in sims, and if he hasn't gotten one by now, he isn't likely to "grow one" anytime soon.

sims is a partisan hack. Toilet-drinkers willingly lap from the same bowl because it is in their own deluded self-interest. There are an awful lot of folks who should be incensed at the mere notion of this sort of impropriety, but instead defend it because it involved one of "their team".

Like me, they don't doubt for a moment that sims's guys are actively shaking people down - unlike me, they're OK with it.

It's a shame....

Posted by: alphabet soup on November 4, 2005 09:06 AM
47. Thanks, alphabet

If someone other than I had taken a look, they would have seen that the underlying permit, the "L__CG___" permit number, is still waiting for customer information (RET/WCI) and hasn't been approved.

Posted by: TF on November 4, 2005 11:22 AM
48. I love the fact that when asked about this issue in the debate today, Sims said he "likes racing,"
therefore it isn't true. What a bull$hitter!!

Posted by: Amused by liberals on November 4, 2005 06:05 PM
49. Mark - my point was that this whole thing could have been easily fabricated to fit the existing timeline of a permit application and existing donors. It's not like this email was leaked in advance of the permit's being approved.

If these claims are true, which seems unlikely to me, where are the confirmations from some of the many, many people whose email addresses appear on that list? It's absurd for Sharkansky to expect people outside this peanut gallery to take his word that he's "confirmed" such an explosive and improbable story.

Posted by: noodles on November 4, 2005 08:01 PM
50. noodle,

Who "fabricated" it numb nuts?
Are you actually stupid enough to believe that?

Posted by: Amused by liberals on November 4, 2005 11:31 PM
51. 1.2 million tons of gravel.

According to one of my reference books, the average weight/cubic foot of granitic material is around 160 pounds.

1.2 million tons*2000 pounds/ton divided by 160 pounds/cubic foot.

That's 15,000,000 cubic feet of material. Or, about 550,000 cubic yards of material.

A standard dump truck and 'pup' might carry 18-20 cubic yards (or that's about 78,000 to 86,500 pounds per load), so that's between 28,000 and 31,000 trucks -- each one making one trip in and one trip out. So, 56,000 to 62,000 truck-trips -- half of them empties running in, half, fully-loaded running out.

I wonder how the people who live across from this operation might feel?

Posted by: TF on November 5, 2005 01:12 PM
52. The answer . . yes
noodle is admitting that he (or she) is actually stupid enough to believe that Stefan Sharkansy would simply fabricate evidence that if fabricated could so easily be proven as such. No one her expects someone of noodle's ability to belive it, but its true.

noodle is confused. he thinks conservatives are like liberals.

Fabricating documents is for liberal losers like Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Dan Rather.
Covering up fraud and peddling influence is for all of them as well as Ron Sims.

Posted by: Amused by liberals on November 5, 2005 01:22 PM
53. Sims is as guilty of sin - great undercover job - Stefan. Sims fabricated - in the midst of his schmoozing Carlson, he did not deny that accusation, made by Irons that he read from Sound Politics - but instead exhorted to David Irons that his integrity was unimpeachable and unassailable - which, in all due respect is a load of crap - that he is content to let the voters swallow. If that doesn't pi** someone off, I don't know what does !

Posted by: KS on November 6, 2005 09:57 PM
54. Some background on this permit and Pacific Raceways. This is a ruse. The Fiorito’s have no interest in putting in a cart track. They are miners. They are looking for the income they can make on selling gravel. The only way they could get a permit for “mining” is to make King County believe they were moving an existing cart track and needed a “grading permit” in order to do so. The problem here was that there was never an existing cart track to begin with yet somehow, someone over at KCDDES accepted their guise. (This is all public record.) The permit has not yet been approved …
In addition, Jason Fiorito has received numerous violations for both Grading without a permit and grading outside a permitted area on other ventures. He is also using the race fans to help his personal cause. It would be a miracle if any of the $3 million revenues from the sale of the gravel goes anywhere other than the Fiorito’s own pockets.

Posted by: Anonymous on November 7, 2005 11:14 AM
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