SPOKANE, Wash. - There's another twist in Spokane's effort to create a new homeless shelter. Councilmember Jonathan Bingle has filed an ethics complaint against former Council President Ben Stuckart, who's been a part of the homeless shelter process.
The situation hinges on Stuckart's role as the Continuum of Care (COC) board chair. The COC is a city program that helps provide support for people experiencing homelessness. They've also been tasked with recommending a shelter provider for the long-promised east Trent shelter.
According to a press release, the complaint claims, "CoC Chair Ben Stuckart, who was named as the project manager for Jewels Helping Hands (JHH) with a salary of over $150,000, participated in a board discussion on April 15 about which proposal to recommend."
Jewels Helping Hands submitted one of the proposals, and Bingle feels it wasn't right for Stuckart to be a part of a process that could benefit him. Stuckart says he recused himself from any votes, he was upfront about his role and that this has already been hashed out.
"Councilman Bingle needs to stay in his own lane," Stuckart told KHQ on the phone. "This is literally political grandstanding. The board, if he would've done his research, discussed this issue on the conflict of interest at our board meeting last week, so he's not even doing his research."
Bingle disagrees and says the people of Spokane, who will ultimately be footing the bill for the shelter, deserve transparency in the process.
"Ben Stuckart, who is the chair of the COC, is directly involved with our homelessness policies and discussions," Bingle told KHQ on the phone. "I don't see how it's a distraction in any way that there is somebody who is self dealing, I don't see how that's a distraction at all, I see that that's a real issue that needs to be solved before we move on in the homelessness conversation."
Last month, Mayor Nadine Woodward essentially re-booted the shelter provider recommendation process, in part because of Stuckart's role.