Seattle Police monitor blasts city for 'humiliating' him over billing dispute

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by LINDA BRILL / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on February 21, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 22 at 11:14 AM

The Los Angeles consultant hired to oversee Seattle Police Department reforms blasted the city for "humiliating" him over a billing dispute.

The story, first revealed by KIRO FM, showed there were angry words in a spat over Merrick Bobb's expenses.

At $250 an hour, Merrick Bobb, the court-appointed monitor for Seattle police reforms, got in a billing squabble with the Seattle Budget Department over Egyptian cotton pillowcases and a cork screw.

"It's a distraction to let an administrative controversy over the cost of a cork screw divert us from the real reform efforts that are under way," said Seattle City Attorney Peter Holmes.

Bobb and his firm were hired by Seattle to monitor a settlement between Seattle and the Department of Justice after a federal investigation found Seattle police used excessive force.

To save money, instead of a hotel the city agreed to pay for Bobb's apartment, furnishings and food.

But, when the December bills came in, they showed double billing for the Renaissance Hotel, $35 Egyptian cotton pillowcase sets, bills that were not itemized, and meal bills that included alcohol.

"Alcohol is not reimbursable under city guidelines and that adjustment has been made," said Holmes.

Bobb responded with email. “We decline in the future to go through the humiliating, time-consuming, and obstructionist process," he wrote.

He also implied that the city may be dragging its feet on police reform.

"I'm not certain that we can currently say we are getting cooperation from the city regarding the monitoring," he added.

Bobb has an upper hand.  He reports to the court about the Department of Justice and could put the city at risk for penalties.

Holmes thinks Bobb is a bargain.  Seattle budgeted $800,000 over the next year for Bobb's services.  That's far less than what was originally predicted.

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