(12/14/09 WSB photo after the stolen Rotary Viewpoint Park totem pole was brought back to Seattle)
We are at the regular weekly meeting of the Rotary Club of West Seattle, where an agreement has just been announced regarding the theft of the totem pole last November 30th (as first reported here a few days later) from Rotary Viewpoint Park (on 35th south of the stadium).
According to a statement provided by the club, the suspected thief “has agreed to pay approximately $3,200 in restitution to the Parks Department for the cost of recovering the stolen pole. He has also made payment of $17,745 to the Rotary Club of West Seattle Service Foundation. These funds will afford professional restoration to be completed on the pole, work that was needed at the time of its removal. Because Rotary has been put in a position where it can now fund restoration of the totem pole we do not wish to pursue a criminal charge against the man responsible for its disappearance. We have informed the Prosecutor’s Office of our inclination. We are currently working with Seattle Parks on a stewardship agreement so that the Pole can be restored by skilled artisans in a timely manner. We look forward to updating the community as this progresses so we can set a date for the Pole and Park’s re-dedication. Our thanks go to the Prosecutor’s Office and Parks Department for their continued commitment to resolving this issue.” As we reported last week, there is particular urgency for the Rotary – one of the men who sleuthed the case, Ken Wise, is terminally ill and hopes to see the pole reinstalled before he dies.
(Video added 4:11 pm, Josh Sutton making the announcement at today’s Rotary meeting)
12:45 PM UPDATE: Josh Sutton has just made the announcement at the Rotary meeting and showed the $17K check. He is making a special thanks to Ken, who just got a special announcement. Sutton said, “For us it’s not about who’s responsible, but about moving forward. This isn’t about people who take things – this is about people who give things. Our task is now to get this pole back … put this baby back where she belongs … when Ken can see it. So that’s our next step.” Sutton says there also is an opportunity for the community to give, for the re-dedication. More details ahead on that. We also will be checking with the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for their side of this, as well as to see if the suspect will be charged in the theft of the Renton pole found along with the West Seattle pole.
2:23 PM: Dan Donohoe, media liaison for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, has responded to our two questions:
We take into consideration input from the victim. In this case, the Rotary did not want to pursue criminal charges since the responsible party has now agreed to pay for a complete restoration of the totem pole. Regarding the Renton case, it is still under review. However, it is unlikely that we would be able to file any charges in the Renton case due to evidentiary issues.
The Renton pole was stolen from a Fred Meyer store that didn’t know it was stolen until it was found with the West Seattle pole in Oregon (here’s our story from last December).