The Roundup: Bellevue Police Chief Placed on Leave, ShoWare Center Turns Profit, Department of Fish and Wildlife Faces Deficit

A recap of weekly news from around the region.

• The Bellevue City Council recently moved to study expanding the men’s homeless shelter at Lincoln Center on 116th Street Northeast for year-round services.

The emergency shelter operated by Congregations for the Homeless is normally open during the winter, but closed in the summer. This means that its clients can’t access the facility’s 90 beds year-round.

Bellevue elected leaders largely agree that something should be done to make the shelter open throughout the summer months, but they’re not keen on rushing the process. On July 23, the Bellevue City Council unanimously voted to direct their staff to study the timeline, financial investments, and community outreach that would be necessary to upgrade and support the the shelter to temporarily operate year-round while a permanent facility is planned. The goal of the study, according to Councilmember Jennifer Robertson, is to “find a solution on a temporary basis for a shelter to operate while the permanent shelter is being planned, funded, permitted and built.” (The report will presented to the council this fall before their 2019-20 budget talks.)

Previously, the Bellevue City Council approved land use code amendments allowing for homeless shelters in more parts of the city, so long as they go through a lengthy permitting and community outreach process—which is estimated to take three years.

At the July 23 meeting, Bellevue Mayor John Chelminiak stressed that the council should not lose sight of the goal of creating a permanent solution, even as they pursue an interim option at the existing facility. “There has got to be realistic support of a shelter that can then be up and operating by May of 2021 or there better darn well be a building under construction by that point,” he said. Bellevue Reporter

• For the first time since it opened in 2009, the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent has turned a profit. In the first six months of 2018, the city-owned arena made $16,452, according to the income statement ending June 30.

ShoWare has lost money each year since it opened roughly a decade ago, amounting to a grand total of $3.9 million. The arena had its “best year” in 2016, when it only lost $155,268.

However, several well-attended concerts back in April helped boost the facility’s revenue going into the second half of 2018. More than 7,000 attended a sold-out April 8 concert featuring Banda MS, a regional Mexican group, while the heavy metal band Judas Priest drew more than 6,000 on April 15. Rapper Post Malone attracted 6,500 on April 29. (The high attendance also boosted city coffers, bringing in over $260,000 in taxes on ticket sales to the City of Kent’s general fund.)

Mike Miller, chair of the Public Facilities District Board that oversees the $84.5 million arena, said that things are looking up financially for the beleaguered facility. “It looks like we have a decent six months coming up,” Miller said. “I would expect that [the high revenue flow] to continue and hopefully we can come close to a break even this year from an operating standpoint.”

Other concerts scheduled for later this year include singer Ms. Lauryn Hill on Sept. 15, rapper Lil Dicky on Oct. 17, and rapper Russ on Nov. 15. The arena is also home to the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team. Kent Reporter

• The Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife allegedly has a plan to make up a $32.9 million deficit in its biennial budget. Several ideas are kicking around the offices of state officials, ranging from $3 million in spending cuts to habitat restoration and ending salmon hatching at the Naches Hatchery in Yakima to increasing recreational license fees to cover the financial shortfall.

In 2017, the state Legislature directed the department to find efficiencies in its current operations and develop a long-term funding plan. In a department webinar on July 23, policy director Nate Pamplin said the deficit stemmed from one time-funding allocations expiring, budget cuts enacted in the years following the 2008 recession, and state license fee rates not keeping up with increased costs.

In addition to addressing the glaring $33 million budget deficit, the agency is also seeking an additional $30 million for future investments. This includes $14.7 million for conservation programs like salmon recovery, watershed health, biodiversity and conservation enforcement; $5.6 million to expand fishing opportunities and hatchery improvements; $3.5 million for hunting enhancements (including improving law enforcement and access); and a undetermined amount for orca recovery.

In total, the department says it needs around $60 million to avoid cuts and to continue funding new programs. Around two-thirds of the money is being requested from the state’s general fund while license fees would theoretically make up the remaining third. Mercer Island Reporter

• Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett was placed on leave Aug. 2 following criminal allegations reported to the Bothell Police Department.

The alleged incident happened more than a year ago in Bothell, according to a vague statement from the city. Bellevue’s human resources department and city attorney’s office are conducting an internal investigation, alongside the coinciding Bothell police investigation.

While details on the nature of the allegations have not yet been released by authorities, The Seattle Times alleges that the investigation may be related to a woman who previously accused two other Bellevue police officers of criminal wrongdoing. Bellevue police Officer John Kivlin was reportedly recently arrested for assault and witness-tampering charges for allegedly attempt to coerce his ex-girlfriend into recanting accusations that he punched her in the face twice back in April. Before dating Kivlin, the woman also claims to have dated a Bellevue police detective who raped her when she was passed out after drinking alcohol.

Bellevue City Manager Brad Miyake appointed Assistant Police Chief Patrick Arpin to serve as acting police chief during the investigation. “The city of Bellevue takes such allegations very seriously,” Miyake said. “To ensure a fair and thorough process for everyone involved, we will not provide further comment prior to the completion of the internal and external investigations.”

Mylett told The Seattle Times on Aug. 3 that he had no idea what allegations have been made against him, “But I have faith that the Bothell Police Department will do a thorough investigation and that the truth will come out, whatever it is.” Bellevue Reporter