Collaboration in Civic Spheres

$2.5K ethics fine for Evergreen College-Tacoma chief

by June 1st, 2012

A high-level state college administrator in Tacoma who also teaches a course on “the ways in which colonialism and neocolonialism have created unequal distributions of power, wealth and access to resources,” will pay a $2,500 state ethics penalty for personal use of public resources – including repeatedly cruising a luxury real estate site on her work computer.

Under a stipulated order she signed with the Washington State Executive Ethics Board, the Executive Director of the Tacoma campus of The Evergreen State College, Dr. Artee Young, will pay a $2,500 fine for using state resources for personal purposes. After receiving a complaint about Young the board investigated and found she used her work computer and state-issued cell phone for personal matters to a degree significantly beyond the allowable de minimus, or minimal, threshhold. The order was approved by the board at its May 11 meeting.

It says a forensic examination of Young’s work computer found that in a two-month period she visited real estate sites 95 times (mainly; as well as the high-end home listing site 16 times; and AOL mail 179 times; Facebook 33 times; the online auction site Ebay eight times; and a financial website seven times.

Young, 66, of Tacoma, earned total compensation of $89,621 in 2010 in her position at Evergreen, according to state public records. She is also a lawyer and classroom instructor who has taught an ethics course titled “Risky Business: Life Experience In Ethics and Law” and another one this year at Evergreen-Tacoma looking at “the ways in which colonialism and neocolonialism have created unequal distributions of power, wealth and access to resources.” The course is titled, “Power Play(ers): Actions and Their Consequences.”

Young is no stranger to government ethics proceedings. She has represented Seattle City Council candidate Jesse Wineberry in disclosure law violation proceedings with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

Public Data Ferret’s Ethics+Education archive

The investigation also found that over a nine-month period Young used her state-issued cell phone for 2,112 personal calls for 1,486 minutes and costing at least $240.75. The ethics board stated in the order that her usage of her work computer and cell phone for personal purposes was aggravated by her position as Executive Director of the Evergreen State College’s Tacoma campus, but a mitigating factor for the calls was that they were related to the caring for of her seriously ill husband at home.

The order says her actions appeared to violate a provision of the state’s Ethics in Public Service Act – namely RCW 42.52.160(1) – but it settles the case without an administrative hearing. The settlement includes a $4,000 civil fine of Young with $1,500 suspended so long as she does not violate the act for another two years.

The stipulated order issued by the state ethics board was approved unanimously by all five of its members, Matthew Williams III, Lisa Marsh, Linnaea Jablonski, Anna Dudek Ross and Michael Bahn.

A message left for Young at her office at mid-day June 1 has not yet been returned.

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