On average, Seattle City Council members are signed up for 149 meetings a year. This includes both full council meetings, which all nine council members attend, and smaller committee meetings. But while the council members are paid roughly $100,000 a year, that doesn't mean they don't play hooky.
In 2010, Jean Godden missed more meetings for committees that she chairs than any other council member up for reelection, according to a records request filed by The Stranger for the council's calendars in 2010. In contrast, Bruce Harrell missed the fewest meetings.
Of the 147 meetings Godden was signed up to attend (full council meetings and committees she's on), Godden's records show she missed 17. That's 12 percent. Godden is chair of the council's two budget committees, but in 2010, all the other members had better attendance than Godden on her own committees, records show. She missed lots of budget committee meetings—20 percent of them.
Godden disputes this. "The numbers presented are totally inaccurate," she says. "As a council member, I arrive early, work late, and attend all committee meetings that I chair." She says that Finance & Budget (one of two budget committees she chairs) meetings are routinely canceled.
Which is true—but I didn't count any canceled meetings. And even if I throw out Godden's Finance & Budget Committee numbers for shits and giggles, she's still missing 10 percent of her total meetings.
The only council member with a higher percentage of missed meetings than Godden is Tim Burgess, but he gets a "get out of jail free" card because he was also signed up for the most meetings of anyone—167 total, of which he missed 24. Or 14 percent.
To Godden's and Burgess's credit, they each missed only 4 percent of the full council's 48 meetings, according to public records. Only Harrell's record was better—he missed none.