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October 28, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Ed Murray’s UW parking-ticket spat

Nobody likes to pay parking tickets. State senator and mayoral candidate Ed Murray is no exception.

Murray got irritated in October 2010 when confronted with an old parking ticket at the University of Washington, recently released records show.

The ticket amounted to $60 with late fees, but Murray refused to pay it, according to records released by the UW after a public-disclosure request. He’d stopped by the UW parking office to pick up new parking passes he needed as a UW employee but was told he first needed to resolve the old violation.

In an email to parking officials, Murray complained he’d been unaware of the ticket, which hadn’t come up the last time he picked up parking passes. He wrote that he only would have been on campus in 2008 “in my capacity as Washington State Senator.”

“Since I have no intention of paying for a violation I have no knowledge of and since you are unwilling to sale [sic] me parking passes, please cancel my UPASS. I will buy parking in the area and drive to work every day,” Murray wrote in the Oct. 7, 2010, email. (The U-PASS is a discounted bus and transit pass for UW staff and students.)

UW parking employees appeared nervous at the blast from a powerful state politician. In an email, one wrote there was proof that notice of the ticket had been mailed to Murray’s home in addition to being placed on his vehicle. “I can certainly waive the late fee, but I can’t erase the ticket,” the employee wrote to a coworker, adding “this one may be sensitive.”

Murray never had to pay. The next day, the UW’s lobbying department intervened and said it would cover the cost, saying “the citation appears to be from an official visit.”

In an interview, Murray said he had a fairly limited budget as a legislator and was constantly picking up the tab for parking and other official expenses.

Joshua Kavanagh, director of UW transportation services, said records show Murray retained his U-PASS through last year.

Kavanagh, who has endorsed Murray’s mayoral campaign, pointed out the university frequently provides free parking passes for visiting dignitaries and other guests. He added it was possible the notices to Murray were lost in the mail.

It’s a trifling amount of money, but the episode is one more reflection of Murray’s close relationship with the UW.

He’s advocated forcefully for the UW’s interests in Olympia, fighting to get the university a break on a city commercial parking tax, for example. Last year, he received a “Top Dawg” award from a UW alumni group.

Meanwhile, as The Seattle Times reported in July, Murray was hired by the UW in 2009 amid massive budget cuts for a part-time job doing outreach to neighborhoods about the university’s expansion plans. The job paid $50,000 a year in addition to his $42,000 legislative salary.

Lori Anderson, a spokeswoman for the state Public Disclosure Commission, said the UW’s payment of Murray’s parking fine — although small — ought to have been disclosed as a lobbying expense. According to PDC lobbying records from 2010, it was not.

Additionally, UW records show Murray has since received four other parking violations. One, in early 2010, he appealed through the UW’s normal appeal process saying he was unaware he parked in a restricted area. That ticket was reduced to a warning.

Since then, Murray has received three additional UW parking citations – one in November 2011 and two in May of 2012, according to UW records.

As of last week, those citations totaled $235, remained unpaid and had been sent to collections, according to Kavanagh.

Murray said he was surprised to hear those tickets were outstanding and would pay them.

Apparently any parking issues are confined to the UW. Seattle Municipal Court records show no unpaid tickets for Murray.

Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: state sen. ed murray, university of washington


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