WHO IS CITY HALL'S wealthiest elected public servant? At a conservatively estimated $5 million, it's Mayor Paul Schell by a wide margin. City Attorney Mark Sidran (estimated $3 million) comes in second, while City Council President Margaret Pageler, along with council members Jan Drago and Jim Compton, follows in a million-dollar photo finish, based on minimum values of their assets and incomes revealed in new public disclosure forms.
Bringing up the rear is council member Judy Nicastro, apparently the least wealthy City Hall electee. With no assets or property—she rents, of course—Nicastro says her only income is an $84,815 council salary—offset by an outstanding student loan.
Council member Nick Licata is in a category all his own: He lives in a million-dollar home but doesn't declare it an asset since it's owned by a land trust, which he helped establish.
Schell and Sidran earn most of their money out of the office. Schell and his wife report incomes totaling near $350,000 annually, while Sidran and his wife earn as much as $500,000 or more each year. Both couples have an array of income investments and commercial properties.
The figures are based on lowball estimates from year 2000 disclosure forms. Like most public officials, Seattle's leaders and their spouses don't have to reveal their exact private worth, using instead a generalized dollar-code rating system. Assets and income are reported in ranges from $1 to "$75,000 or more" on their Personal Financial Affairs Statements. An asset worth $1 million, for example, could slip past in the more-than-$75,000 category.
But other property and financial records fill in some of the blanks about how the officials—whose primary role is to watch over the people's treasury—manage their own assets.
It may not be too reassuring, then, to learn that top lawyer Sidran failed to report a $1.5 million piece of property and council member Richard McIver omitted listing his own home as an asset. Sidran notes that he and his wife formed a partnership, the Laurencia LLC, to operate their commercial property in Pike Place Market, the 1906-era Smith Block Building that includes a salon and bed and breakfast. But he doesn't list the property as a real estate asset or report its value. Ditto for McIver, who lists only his home's mailing address. Carol Van Noy, director of the city's Ethics and Elections Commission, which oversees the reports, says the forms will have to be corrected.
Likewise, Schell may have left off 1999 income his wife may be paid as treasurer of a private parking-equipment supply firm of which he is the majority owner. In 1998 his office said Schell and his wife received $6,000 each from the company (although that wasn't reported on his disclosure form then either). His office didn't answer our new inquiries for clarification. Schell's company also continues to do private business—amount unspecified—with Wright Runstad & Company, whose execs have been among his biggest City Hall allies and political contributors. Schell's company itself was doing business directly with the city when he first took office—outfitting Seattle Center with parking equipment—but discontinued such sales after Seattle Weekly reported the conflict.
Licata's office says the council member's Capitol Hill home, assessed at $1.3 million, is in essence "leased on a sliding scale . . . based on ability to pay" from the Evergreen Land Trust, a nonprofit natural conservancy corporation formed by Licata and six others. They have for years operated the two-story neocolonial home as a shared cooperative.
Here's a closer look at City Hall personal worth. Values are for 1999. Property figures are based in most cases on assessment rather than potentially higher sales prices. 'Dependents' means children living at home. Council salaries differ, says City Clerk Judith Pippin, due to cost-of-living increases based on incumbency and council position.
Mayor Paul Schell (no dependents): Leases waterfront condo, owns Inn at Langley, 50 percent stake in Friday Harbor House, one-third ownership in the Boatyard Inn in Langley, all destination lodges. Also owns four rental properties in Langley. Total property assessment value: $4.3 million. Owns 75 percent of Pacific Cascade Parking Equipment firm in Vancouver, Washington, for which spouse, Pam, is treasurer. In addition to his $126,616 mayor's pay, Schell earns more than $75,000 as director of the Inn at Langley, up to $60,000 from two rental properties, and up to $30,000 from three other rentals. He also earns from $2,000 to $10,000 as Pacific Cascades director and receives up to $10,000 from a Hawaii parking-security firm investment. Schell has stocks with asset value up to $9,000, an annuity worth up to $10,000 that pays up to $3,000 annually, and a loan to a business associate worth more than $75,000 that is paid back at $50,000 annually.
City Attorney Mark Sidran (no dependents): He and spouse Anais Winant, together and separately, own a home on Vashon Island ($216,000), Pike Place Market historical building ($1.5 million, sales price), Queen Anne apartment building ($600,000), rental duplex ($234,000), rental property in Langley ($97,000), and 13 acres in Winthrop (original mortgage of up to $75,000). In addition to Sidran's $107,741 city pay, he earns rental income up to $30,000 annually. Winant earns $75,000 or more as manager of the Seattle-King County Convention & Visitors Bureau and rental income up to $15,000. They make up to $75,000 in apartment rentals and more than $75,000 from Pike Market retail leases. Sidran and Winant also have four retirement funds worth more than $255,000, which pay annual income of $48,000 to $123,000. Mutual funds, stocks, and cash worth $200,000 or more provide up to $36,000 annual income.
City Council members:
Margaret Pageler (no dependents): Owns home ($248,000) and property worth more than $75,000 in Easton, Washington. In addition to Pageler's $84,815 council salary, spouse John makes more than $75,000 in computer sales for Adaptec. Assets including retirement programs and AOL and Microsoft stock have total value beyond $945,000.
Jim Compton (no dependents): Owns home ($580,000); makes $84,815 as councilman; assets include retirement and mutual fund accounts worth beyond $465,000; last year earned up to $128,000 from a pension fund and journalism tasks, including work as a correspondent for PBS NewsHour and writing an op-ed piece for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (for which he was paid from $1 to $3,000).
Jan Drago (no dependents): Owns condo home ($202,000), Belltown condo/office ($219,000), and Redmond rental home ($176,000); earns up to $15,000 in rental income; besides her $77,465 council pay, spouse Noel earns more than $75,000 in commissions from Drago Associates, an apparel brokerage. The couple are also half owners of Franklin Hayden Management, a Spokane investment management corporation; have small shares in two cable TV investment corporations; and own stock or retirement investments worth beyond $335,000.
Richard McIver (no dependents): Owns home ($219,000) and rental duplex ($207,000); besides $77,465 council pay, receives up to $15,000 rental income annually. Spouse Marlaina Kiner-McIver makes up to $15,000 as a consultant for the state Attorney General and up to $3,0000 as a Seattle Public Schools consultant. The couple have $45,000 to $105,000 in life insurance and retirement assets.
Nick Licata (one dependent): Rents; in addition to his $77,465 council salary, he and spouse Eleanor Leech, board member of World Affairs Council, report money and retirement investments valued at more than $417,000, providing up to $42,000 in annual income.
Richard Conlin (three dependents): Owns home ($256,000); besides $77,465 council pay, earns up to $15,000 as board member of nonprofit Positive Futures Network, which publishes YES!, a new-age publication, and up to $15,000 as owner of Conlin and Associates consulting. Spouse Sue Ann Allen earns from $30,000 to $75,000 as training director of Dispute Resolution Center and up to $15,000 as owner of Allen and Associates, training and mediation services.
Peter Steinbrueck (two dependents): Owns home ($172,000); in addition to his $84,815 council pay, spouse Marilyn Taylor makes $30,000 to $75,000 as a staff attorney for the state Court of Appeals; retirement investment worth up to $15,000. He reports no income beyond the $7,500 minimum reporting limit for his architecture consulting service.
Heidi Wills (no dependents): Owns home ($195,000); besides $84,815 council salary, reports county retirement fund valued at up to $30,000.
Judy Nicastro (no dependents): Rents; receives $84,815 council salary, owes more than $30,000 on student loans.