McGinn's new transportation adviser a career biking advocate

McGinn's new transportation adviser a career biking advocate »Play Video
David Hiller is seen in a 2007 video released by the Cascade Bicycle Club.
SEATTLE - The man tapped by Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn to give advice and support on transportation issues has spent nearly all of his career as an advocate for bicycling, a KOMO News investigation has found.

Neither Hiller nor the mayor are providing many details about his background, but KOMO's Problem Solver team has dug up information about his tenure in Connecticut before he came to Seattle.

Most recently, Hiller was an ardent lobbyist for the Cascade Bicycle Club before being hired by McGinn with a salary of $95,000 a year.

In his role with the club, he sometimes used strong language to make his points.

In a January interview with The Stranger about careless motorists who hit and kill cyclists, Hiller said, "I'd love to hang these people up by their toenails at the edge of town and paint 'killer' across their chest and let them hang there until the buzzards peck their eyes out.'"

But what did he did before his time at the Cascade Bicycle Club - the Problem Solvers had to dig deep to find some answers.

Hiller isn't making himself available to reporters now, and he's not returning phone calls.

Even the Cascade Bicycle Club, where Hiller was a lobbyist for the past eight years, doesn't want to do an on-camera interview.

The Problem Solvers had to turn to Hiller's tenure in Connecticut to find out any more about his qualifications to take on a $95,000-a-year job with Seattle.

Hiller had earlier referred to his time with the Connecticut state Legislature as a qualification for his current roll.

So KOMO News started there, and the only employment we could confirm there for Hiller was as a permanent assistant clerk.

It's not clear what his salary or responsibilities were, but he was hired in December 1998 and the state Legislature says his employment ended four months later in April 1999.

The Problem Solvers looked at IRS documents from Hiller's next job - with the Connecticut Bicycle Coalition, a small organization with only a few hundred members.

As executive director in 2001 Hiller made $28,628. And then in 2002, his salary was $19,555.

Rich Lourie, the former president of the Connecticut Bicycle Coalition's board of directors, said Hiller was an effective director, but left after the coalition went broke to take a better position in Seattle.

Lourie said Hiller was "very resourceful" and capable advocate for bicyclists and pedestrians, and was skillful at getting federal grants for safe bicycling and pedestrian projects.

But he said the Connecticut Bicycle Coalition was forced to close down after it was unexpectedly charged for police protection and rental of a city park during a fund-raising event. The charges wiped out the group's budget.

The only other record of any kind of work in Connecticut that the Problem Solvers could find was on a Connecticut Clean Boater Guide - he's listed as doing the design and layout.

The Problem Solvers also have learned that Hiller's partner also works for the Seattle mayor's office, but they say her salary is paid for by a grant.

KOMO News has asked the mayor's office for a copy of Hiller's resume to see what all his qualifications are - they have not yet provided that.

But McGinn says that Hiller is fully qualified for the post, where he will serve as a transportation policy advisor.

"He's a very effective advocate," McGinn said. "If he can come in and get some movement on light rail like he's gotten movement on bicycles, then he'll be great for the city because I know the city would love more light rail."