Mayor’s choice for SDOT director: Scott Kubly, formerly of Chicago and D.C.

July 2, 2014 at 12:46 pm | In Transportation, West Seattle news, West Seattle politics | 22 Comments

(Photo from seattle.gov)
The mayor has announced his choice for Seattle Department of Transportation director: Scott Kubly, former deputycommissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Transportation and former associate director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. In the news release (read it here in its entirety), Mayor Murray calls Kubly “a transportation visionary” with “a proven track record” who has “worked on bike issues, car share programs, traffic management and pedestrian safety strategies, rapid transit and street cars; he’s done long-range budgeting, strategic planning, cost reduction, major capital project development, and performance measurement and accountability.” Kubly is quoted as saying:

Seattle is growing incredibly fast … To accommodate that growth and preserve the city’s great quality of life, we need a transportation system that doesn’t just get the basics right like freight mobility and safety,, but that also invests in new, high quality transit, bikeshare, new bike lanes for Seattleites from 8 to 80 to ride in, and improving the pedestrian experience throughout the city. It also means creating an environment in which the private sector can provide transportation services that complement the public transportation network. This means creating an environment that allows transportation network companies and taxis to thrive, carsharing to expand, or for new types of transportation services to evolve. The fact is, people aren’t tied to individual transportation modes, they’re tied to outcomes – and we must continue bringing forward options that will deliver the positive outcomes they need and expect.

West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, who chairs the Transportation Committee, is quoted as saying:

Seattle needs a transportation director who recognizes the importance of a balanced transportation system and can help guide our city’s transition from auto-dependence. … Mr. Kubly’s experience in Chicago and Washington, D.C. shows a commitment to accomplishing just that. I look forward to our discussions with Mr. Kubly over the next several weeks. I also encourage the public to participate in the confirmation process.

Pending Council confirmation, Kubly is slated to start on July 28th, making $180,000 a year. He follows acting director Goran Sparrman and previous director Peter Hahn, who was announced last November as not staying on once former Mayor McGinn departed. Hahn had succeeded Grace Crunican, who resigned at the end of 2009.

SIDE NOTE: A search shows that the most-recent program for which Kubly made news in Chicago was overseeing its speed-camera program. … A few months later, here’s what one Chicago website wrote when Kubly announced his departure.

22 Comments

  1. Well, at least he should know something about dealing with snow!!!

    Comment by KT — 1:30 pm July 2, 2014 #

  2. I just want to know if this guy can tell the road crews here how to pave a road smooth like the suburbs. It’ll help me from buying a giant gas-guzzling SUV that will soak up the war zone SDOT calls streets.

    Comment by JK — 1:54 pm July 2, 2014 #

  3. He should know something about dealing with political graft too… We’ll see.
    Seattle’s hills have derailed more than one bus

    Comment by JoB — 2:18 pm July 2, 2014 #

  4. Wow – get ready to lose some serious money on this guy.
    Read the articles and more importantly comments from DC and Chicago residents about Kubly – or maybe don’t – they’re really depressing.
    DC paid for him to get a master’s degree, then he bailed 2 months later? Ouch.
    Kubly launched bike sharing in DC and Chicago, and worked for Alta – the now bankrupt provider of equipment, and a partner in Puget Sound Bike Share. – Really, isn’t that a conflict of interests?
    CDOT turned down the $13M bid from Bike Chicago in favor of the $21M bid from Alta – that’s $9,600 per bike btw – and it’s mired now in accusations of payola and corrupt bidding practices? Chicago withheld $2M+ in payments? Ouch again.
    Wait – he has zero experience with light rail? I thought light rail was important to us her in Seattle. He’s about car share, bike share, and express bus service – all the things we want right? NOT.
    Worst of all, the money trail is deeply concerning.
    Kubly follows Klein around the country, Klein takes money from Alta; lots of it.
    Klein ran DC DOT, hired Kubly, they gave the bike share bid to Alta, then they left. Klein went to Chicago, hired Kubly, Klein recused himself, and Kubly gave the $28M first year, and $65M 15 year CDOT contract to Alta (highest bid of all, lowest was $13M Bike Chicago). Then Kubly recused himself from the Divvy project (that’s Chicago’s bike share) and went to work for Alta!! Wow.
    Alta is in on Seattle Bike Share, and here’s Kubly to get his payola for making it happen. We’re getting rooked people. Yes, he was cleared by the Chicago board of ethics, but I prefer he never had to go before them. This reeks of impropriety.
    Why can’t we have someone FROM Seattle, who knows the area, run a well planned bike share program – I swear numerous people who frequent WSB could do it in their sleep, and it won’t cost us the millions these others cities taken by Klein, Kubly and Alta were bilked for.
    “He recused himself from the Divvy project before any employment discussions and was cleared by the Chicago Board of Ethics before beginning work for us,” Alta Principal Mia Birk said”
    This is a travesty waiting to happen.
    Read this – you won’t be happy that we’re potentially getting this possible scam artist:
    http://www.suntimes.com/25100541-418/city-hall-withheld-21-million-from-bankrupt-divvy-supplier.html#.U7R6FLGtwe4

    http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/bike-sharing-contract-may-be-inside-job/Content?oid=6274245

    Comment by zark — 2:38 pm July 2, 2014 #

  5. This town will see increasing Clusterf*** traffic until we get someone in government who understands the difference between “mass transit” and “rapid transit” as they used to be called. Our current crop seems satisfied to continue the “war on cars”, which is waged along economic lines: If you’re poor or of the lower middle class, you should take the bus or ride a bike, and feel bad about yourself and pay a whole lot more if you drive a private vehicle, no matter if your job requires it. If you’re in the managerial class, say an important and high salaried city DOT head or The Mayor, you’ll continue to get your free parking space in the building and be chauffeured to events.Public transportation is always for someone else to take to these people, and no public transportation system imaginable can fix the city’s problems until it runs independently of street traffic.Make it faster for people to get around than driving and they will use it. Build it, and they will come.At least some of us have been to cities in our world where this is already a reality.

    Comment by Fiwa Jcbbb — 3:24 pm July 2, 2014 #

  6. Zark, it’s all OK; Republicans do it too.

    Comment by CandrewB — 5:09 pm July 2, 2014 #

  7. See..I told you he would be familiar with political graft:)
    I bet ALTA put his name forward
    And our new Mayor was more than happy to play ball
    He’s good at that

    Comment by JoB — 5:13 pm July 2, 2014 #

  8. KT, one or two snow storms each year is the least of our worries. JK, I have a small sedan (and know plenty of people who do too) and we all get around just fine without SUVs.

    Seriously, this city is so frustrating! I feel like everyone is always complaining about the traffic, gridlock, and lack of effective mass transit, YET THERE IS NO HOPE IN SIGHT. Light rail is coming… IN 12 YEARS. So frustrating, do we not care? The articles shared above about this man’s shady past is disettling.

    Comment by Danaa — 5:15 pm July 2, 2014 #

  9. Well based on these comments, I think we should be calling for his resignation.

    Comment by sgg — 6:04 pm July 2, 2014 #

  10. Danaa light rail is not coming to w sea in 12 years.

    Comment by Kgdlg — 7:19 pm July 2, 2014 #

  11. This choice is awful. I will be writing to the mayor, to reconsider. Maybe if enough of us put up a stink, then he will change his mind. like her did on the salary of the utilities dude.

    Comment by ttt — 10:16 pm July 2, 2014 #

  12. After reading the articles zark linked to, I can say one thing: when they bid out the bikeshare that is surely coming, it had best be an open bid process with the lowest bid getting the most consideration. I would hate for the taxpayers to get soaked for millions (especially after the tunnel fiasco and paying for the seawall retro-fit) due to a corrupt / shady deal like what transpired in Chicago.

    Comment by Rich Crenshaw — 10:34 pm July 2, 2014 #

  13. That’s some pretty negative press to have and still get appointed. It does make one wonder about the mayor.
    .
    Actually I think the mayor does whatever he thinks will get votes. This time he probably made a mistake.

    Comment by dsa — 11:30 pm July 2, 2014 #

  14. Ed Murray was the voters choice. We are lucky to have him.

    Comment by sittingbird — 8:13 am July 3, 2014 #

  15. We really do not need a bikeshare. We need rapit/mass transit. No more bikes you are not going to have a significant part of the population riding bike around the hills of seattle, but you would have them riding transit if it was good.

    Comment by Scott — 8:20 am July 3, 2014 #

  16. Very interesting reading Zark! Dsa – it really does make one wonder about our Mayor. Seems he is out for more than ‘votes’ these days. Seems he is lining up his staff of minions, another piece in his twisted puzzle. His current record speaks for itself. I, as well, will be writing the Mayor to let my opinion known.

    Comment by WSince86 — 8:38 am July 3, 2014 #

  17. So…has anyone seen an investigation of the background of our appointee on one of the TV news muckrackers?

    I’d hope they do a little digging and put that stuff on the air – it’s at least as important as who didn’t get their late fees reimbursed from Bob’s Rentals.

    If not, I believe I’ll drop a call to a hotline…

    Comment by RubenTheCat — 9:04 am July 3, 2014 #

  18. More accurately, Mike McGinn wasn’t the voters choice.

    Comment by Rick — 9:40 am July 3, 2014 #

  19. Welcome another clown to the mayors circus. Maybe we can re title his position to CEO or GM and give him a 120K raise next year.

    Comment by Born on Alki — 10:04 am July 3, 2014 #

  20. I would like to know how one can be hired as SDOT Director $180k with such limited experience for doing the job. Maybe he can get some OTJ training on the tax payers dime before he moves on to his next job. Who picks these people ? maybe we need to step back and see if the ones doing the hiring have any qualifications for such, that seems to be a big problem here. For some reason the Seattle area has been going down hill at a quick pace in the hiring of good qualified people for very important spots within our government and schools. It looks to me maybe Kubly should of hired Jorge Carrasco’s PR firm to look a little better, as his history is by far stellar and looks to be a very $$$$ disaster for Seattle. Wake up Murray

    Comment by wetone — 11:38 am July 3, 2014 #

  21. Get ready for more speed/red light cameras seems like that’s this guy’s specialty. Welcome Kubly just don’t get caught by your own cameras.

    Comment by anonymous — 9:14 am July 5, 2014 #

  22. Seattle hold on to your wallets and more importantly watch closely this guys staffing appointments. The only thing missing here is Leah Treat the “supposed multi-billionaire dollar” portfolio expert from DC and Chicago that was part of the roadshow with this guy and Klein. Oh wait, she got appointed to the Director of Transportation at Portland and is pushing Alta there……If you think this guy is a joke check her press out her first Press Conference in Portland will tell you all you need to know about her real skills and abilities. It’s unfortunate but these 3 keep getting positions because of who they know not what they know. Until this kind of recruitment ends I guess you guys are stuck. This guy was a supposed expert on Streetcars no mention of that in his marketing blitz…as far the red light cameras in Chicago turned out to be a scam too check out the detailed press on that…..finally how can he work for Alta who got contracts in DC and Chicago while he worked in the transportation departments for those cities and now he is in Seattle pushing it…. is there no conflict of interest anywhere? Watch closely his grant applications……….Good luck Seattle this is another bozo don’t be surprised if Klein shows up as a “highly paid consultant” for your city soon…I am a life long democrat but after working with this guy in DC I can tell you first hand he is a not the sharpest tool in the shed (although he is arrogant) and he is a real piece of work…sorry for your city….I hope it all works out for the citizens

    Comment by Another City Another Dollar — 11:37 am July 8, 2014 #

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