Sunday, September 21, 2014

Raising Awareness of Raising

Per the PDN, the City Council is still considering adopting a five-year plan that, by 2019, will have raised the utility rates of the average residential user by $936 per year, and of the average commercial user by an even more whopping $1843 per year. These are huge, potentially budget-busting figures for citizens and businesses in Port Angeles. Does anyone really think that such large rate increases are sustainable, reasonable, or even possible? I mean, at any given time, at least a third of the City's utility customers are delinquent on their accounts already, with the existing outrageous rates.

Of course, the only reason the City Council would even consider such a huge rate increase is because City staff are pushing them to do so. Lord knows the City Council doesn't do much on their own initiative, right? So what does a key City staff member have to say about this idea?

From the PDN: "In an interview last week, Phil Lusk, deputy director of power and telecommunication systems, said he was unaware of the five-year impact of the increases on ratepayers."

Uh huh. So, Phil, you're "unaware" of the ramifications of what you are personally proposing and pushing are for all the citizens of Port Angeles, but that doesn't slow you down in pushing for it? I guess, Phil, you're either dumber and/or way more cynical than I thought.

404 S. Washington St. - home of a well-connected utility ratepayer.

In any case, if anyone reading this would like to help educate Phil Lusk about the impact of these proposed rate increases, he can be found right across from Civic Field, at 404 S. Washington St. I'm sure that, as part of his job duties, Phil would be more than happy to have you stop by and tell him all about your feelings on this issue. After all, living as he does in Port Angeles, at 404 S. Washington St., Phil's a ratepayer, too. So maybe, just maybe, you can prod him into incorporating some thinking into his job.

Maybe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Lame Changer?

So, it sure seems that the knives are coming out for Sissi Bruch, now that the election is drawing a little nearer. One-sided "debates" are being hosted, slanted news stories are being written, and - surprise, surprise - nasty comments and lies about her are flying fast and furious online.

And all she wants to do is get everyone to yes!

Now, of course, some of this is just habitual, reflexive redneckery, striking out at anyone and anything that smacks of "the outside" and/or the 21st century. That I understand. Morons will be morons, after all.


What I don't understand is how anyone on either side could be truly getting too worked up over this election, because, as I see it, no matter what, nothing will change. I mean, there'll either be two bozos voting stupidly in the Clallam County Courthouse, or three. Either way, nothing will change, right? Other than that Sissi will get the "pleasure" of wasting a lot of her time.

So what I'm wondering is this...For you folks on the center-left who are supportive of Sissi, do you really, really see her being able to change anything? Do you really, really think she'll be able to change the racist/sexist/xenophobic tone of the County? Do you really, really think she'll be able to get anything done, other than a lot of protest votes? If you do think so, please explain how this might happen - because I just don't see it at all.

What I do see is a whole lot of lame that isn't likely to go anywhere. Clallam County is pretty much the home of backwards and lame. So do you want your heartbreak all at once (Sissi loses the election), or spread out over years (Sissi is outvoted time and time and time again)?



Friday, September 5, 2014

Glenn Cutler Bought a Million Dollar Turd Tank, and All I Got Was This Lousy, Stinky Shoreline

The more things change, the more they stay the same - at least in Port Angeles.

After knowing for YEARS that they had to deal with their combined sewer overflow (CSO) problem, they City finally "did something" and bought into the biggest boondoggle ever, Cutler's Million Dollar Turd Tank. After committing to this "solution" and spending millions of dollars and committing millions more...Apparently you folks just experienced 20 hours of partly processed poo going straight into the Strait. I read about the warning to stay out of the water there in the Bellingham newspaper. You just can't buy publicity like that. Thank goodness you've got Russ Veenema around to counteract the bad PR, eh? (And by the way, has it even been raining up there? Why an overflow now?)

And after knowing for YEARS that they have a serious and totally unsustainable utility rate problem, which is in part due to the aforementioned Turd Tank, the City is now apparently considering "doing something" about it. I guess there's a proposal on the table to increase the City's already expensive utility rates for FIVE YEARS running. Given that a third of Port Angeles residents already are delinquent on their utility bills in any given month, this classic City "solution" seems like a surefire way to solve the problem - if the problem is that there are still people who can afford to pay their utility bills. Is the goal 100% "participation" in being delinquent?

Am I the only one who ponders the notion that Port Angeles is badly run on purpose? As in, with the purpose of totally and completely bankrupting and wrecking the town for some reason? I mean, like the saying goes, even a stopped clock is right twice a day, but the City of Port Angeles is remarkably able to be wrong pretty much every single time, in every single way.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Audit...And Forget It?

So...Once again, the State of Washington has audited the City of Port Angeles. And once again, they have found that everything is not necessarily in order. Big surprise, huh?

Below you'll find some text taken directly from the findings (those are bad things) from the Washington State Auditor's Office...

Schedule of Federal Audit Findings and Questioned Costs

1. The City does not have adequate internal controls to ensure compliance with federal suspension and debarment requirements.

Background

The City spent $633,008 in federal grant funds during 2013 on various City projects to improve lighting for the port area of Port Angeles.

Federal requirements prohibit grant recipients from contracting with or making subawards to vendors who have been suspended or debarred from doing business with the federal government. The City is required to verify that all vendors receiving $25,000 or more in federal funds have not been suspended or debarred. The City can obtain a written certification from the vendor or insert a clause into the contract where the vendor states it is not suspended or debarred. Alternatively, the City may review the federal Excluded Parties List (EPLS) issued by the U.S. General Services Administration. This requirement must be met prior to entering into a contract with the vendor.

Description of Condition

We reviewed the City’s internal controls and compliance with regulations over its Port Security Grant Program. The City did not have internal controls to ensure compliance with the suspension and debarment requirements.

Cause of Condition

Typically, contracts are awarded through the public works department, where systems are in place to check for suspension and debarment; however, this contract went through the community development department where there is no process in place to ensure compliance.


Effect of Condition and Questioned Costs

 
The City paid one vendor $261,501 for lighting fixtures and poles and did not verify whether the vendor was suspended or debarred. This material weakness in internal controls increases the risk the City will enter into contracts with vendors who are suspended or debarred from receiving federal funds. Payments on contracts to suspended or debarred vendors would be unallowable and cause the City to repay the funding to the grantor.


2. The City’s internal controls over financial statement preparation are inadequate to ensure accurate and complete reporting.

Background 
 


City Council members, state and federal agencies, and the public rely on the information included in the financial statements and reports to make decisions. It is the responsibility of the City to design and follow internal controls that provide reasonable assurance regarding the reliability of financial reporting. Our audit identified deficiencies in internal controls that adversely affect the City’s ability to produce reliable financial statements.

Description of Condition
 
We identified the following deficiencies in internal controls that when taken together, represent a material weakness:
 
 
City staff did not adequately research how to appropriately record nonroutine transactions on the financial statements.

The current review process over those responsible for preparing the financial statements was not effective in ensuring the financial statements are accurate and complete.

Cause of Condition  

The City had processes in place to prepare financial reports; however, the City did not have adequate internal controls or appropriate supervision of staff work to ensure accurate financial statement preparation. In addition, the City did not allow sufficient time to review the financial statements.

Effect of Condition

The City’s financial statements contained significant misstatements that were not detected by City management prior to submitting their completed statements. We identified the following misstatements in the original financial statements we received for audit:
The Wastewater Utility Fund long-term debt was understated and nonoperating revenues were overstated by $10 million. This resulted from the City recording proceeds from a debt issuance as nonoperating revenue rather than long-term debt.

The General Fund liabilities were understated and the Capital Improvements Fund receivables were overstated by $974,828 due to an incomplete adjusting journal entry.

The Solid Waste Collection Utility Fund nonoperating revenue was understated by $522,239 due to a posting error.

These errors were subsequently corrected by the City. In addition, we identified less significant errors and misstatements in the financial statements of which most were subsequently corrected.

 *********
Hmmm...Overstating revenue (by millions!)...Understating long-term debt...Running grant money through departments that aren't set up to handle it...All of which also amounts to misleading the City Council and the public...

Hmmm...Sound like a solid state of affairs to you? Sound like a well-run ship?

Are you reading this, Yvonne Ziomkowski? PDN? KONP? Anyone care? Anyone worried?


Friday, August 1, 2014

Election Predictions

I'd be curious to hear what people think is going to happen in the three-way primary race for County Commissioner. Given that Bill Peach is the sole right-wing nut running, I'd expect him to get around half of the votes, and come out on top. So the question for me becomes who comes in second, and thus advances to the general election? Is it Monohon, or is it Bruch?

Who's been doing the most media? Who's been knocking on your door? Who are people talking about? Who are people laughing about? Let's hear what you have to say. Share your predictions for how this race turns out - the more specific (percentages, anyone?) the better.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Port Angeles B&B

Being that this is Port Angeles we're talking about, that B&B stands for Bullshit and Bullying, needless to say.

Starting with the BS...I think we all know that the only people who could ever rank Port Angeles as a Top 10 small town are people who have never actually been there. The only Top 10 Port Angeles belongs in is the Top 10 Places to Move Away From - and I know. Life is indeed so much sweeter elsewhere.

But one person who might be believing the totally unbelievable hype is Police Chief Terry Gallagher. You see, Terry wants to open a B&B at his house. Yes, a B&B. Now, doing this wouldn't violate any City codes, but it would violate a covenant that Gallagher signed along with his neighbors - including the past and present mayor, Dan DiGuilio. Apparently Terry Gallagher doesn't care about pissing off his neighbors, or the mayor, so I assume he's planning on retiring soon. Good riddance.

The only kind of B&B that might make money in Port Angeles.
 
Ah, but we're not quite done with talking about Terry quite yet, since he does play a major part in the story of Yvonne Ziomkowski's wrongful termination from the City. You see, back in the day, Terry wanted to spend a bunch of money (and go for a bunch of grants that wind up having costs in the long-term) to buy telecom toys for his department. As the head of the City's finances, Yvonne didn't support his spendthrift ways.

"I'd just like to say to my friends, neighbors,
and co-workers...Fuck you. Don't make me do something
you'll end up regretting."
 
So, when a new City Council got elected, and the slimy good ol' boys in City Hall were freaking out, they wanted to put Yvonne - who knew pretty much everything that went on behind closed doors there - out of commission, to prevent new, nosy Council members from being able to pick her brain. That's when Terry and Kent Myers went across the street and asked that Yvonne be investigated by an outside agency. That made her off limits to Council members.

"You mean after all that smearing and lying and backstabbing
and everything else I did to make Port Angeles a great place
to live, I still got kicked out?"

And so, Terry got his toys. Kent Myers got the boot. And poor Yvonne got her name and reputation smeared, lost her job, and has been fighting the City ever since.

Of course, it hasn't been a fair or even fight. From everything I've heard, Yvonne's own attorney, Karen Unger, is doing all she can to scuttle Yvonne's case. Remember, this all went down years ago. In the past few weeks, I've talked to at least half a dozen people who should have been deposed by Unger by this point, but apparently Unger hasn't deposed a single person yet. Not one. In the meantime, the City has been deposing witnesses, alternating between stalling things and then trying to hurry them along, and even accusing Yvonne of filing a SLAPP lawsuit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation), which doesn't even make sense.

"Oh, sure, I could make money doing my job and all that,
but I figure, why break a sweat? Plus, I really don't want to
get Terry Gallagher mad at me, so..."

Meanwhile, I keep hearing that Toxic Teresa Pierce - who hasn't quit or been fired - may be coming back to a job at the City. While still proceeding with her utterly baseless suit against the City and Brad Collins. Whom she would then be having to work with again. Despite her "permanent disability" due to the non-existent harassment she never faced.

Crooked attorneys. Crooked City Managers and Police Chiefs. Crooked political parties. Everybody lying and stabbing everybody else in the back. Widespread apathy and a stagnant economy. A crumbling infrastructure. Rampant substance abuse. The same small circle of sharks circulating in and out of cushy jibs and positions of influence. A downtown that's a ghost town. A newspaper that's not fit to wipe your ass with. Sinkholes and assholes. Gee, yeah, Port Angeles sure does sound like a Top 10 town, alright.

A Top 10 waterfront view, for sure! The Turd Tank, too!

Gosh, I'm just ever so sorry that I left such a fabulous, wonderful and totally not at all corrupt place. I'm absolutely sure that all the other people who have fled Port Angeles (remember those shrinking Census numbers!) feel that way too.

No, really.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Leadership Roundup (AKA Clallam County Circle Jerks)

Starting with your friends in the County Courthouse...Selinda Barkhuis has upped her pissing contest with the ever-slimy Jim Jones by taking it to the blogs. You can find her at patoday.com, where she once again accuses Jim Jones of lying and generally being a filthy undesirable scumbag (can't argue with that), as well as takes two of the three County Commissioners to task for, well, allowing Jim Jones to be a filthy undesirable scumbag (can't really argue with that, either). She ends her latest post by urging people to contact said County Commissioners and tell them to fire Jones.

No, tell us what you really think, Selinda. Hmmm...

Crossing the street to City Hall...Handsome young Dan Gase, totally non-conflicted City Council Member, having recovered from being called a "traitor" by the Tree People of Lincoln Park, has managed to spew out a new newsletter in his guise as handsome young Dan Gase, totally awesome realtor. His message reads, in part:

Let's begin with the total listing count of residential properties. On January 1, 2014 we had a total of 210 homes on the market. On July 1st that number increased to 273 homes! That is a 30% increase in inventory during this six month time period...because there may be a pent up desire in the minds of many to sell their homes...the same homes that they wanted to put on the market over the past few years...I foresee many more listing (sic) in the coming months if conditions remain stable.

"A pent up desire in the minds of many to sell their homes...I foresee many more...if conditions remain stable." Wow, tell us what you really think, Dan. Do you think all those people selling their homes are just wanting to upgrade to an even bigger house in Port Angeles? Or could this be part of the exodus of intelligent, capable people leaving Port Angeles? Hmmm...

Speaking of which...It feels so good to be living somewhere other than Port Angeles. So good I cannot even tell you all. Let me just give you one example. This week, our local City Council, responding to the protests of the public, voted to reject a very suspect "public-private" partnership that seemed risky and foolish. You know, the kind of thing that would sail right through the Port Angeles City Council. And you know what? Not only did the City Council here do the right thing, the newspaper covered the meeting fairly accurately, and had the article about it in the next morning's paper - not one two or three days after the fact.

Good government, minus Paul Gottlieb, equals a greatly improved quality of life. And that's just one example of many I could give. So what are you all waiting for, people? Help prove Dan Gase can be right about something - put that house on the market and get out while you can.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Chapmans in the News

So...There's a Christopher Michael Chapman, 48, in the Clallam County jail on a couple of Federal charges...It's almost a dream come true...Almost...

Friday, June 27, 2014

It's Only (Public) Money

So you may recall...The City recently went to the County, hat in hand, asking for a multi-million dollar "Loan" to help the City deal with the garbage bluff issue. What you probably don't recall, because it wasn't reported, is that the County Treasurer, Selinda Barkhuis, attended the meeting where this remarkably bad idea was discussed, and objected to the County moving forward with it based on existing legal constraints on such actions.

Well, gosh, Jim Jones sure doesn't like being told what to do, especially by a mere woman, so he still supports the idea. And, gosh, what do you know? Selinda's objections didn't seem to make it into the minutes for that meeting. Jeepers, what an oversight, I'm sure.

Anyway, since then, Selinda, apparently trying to simply do her job and protect the public's money and, oh, you know, obey the law, has sent out an official objection/correction to the minutes of that earlier meeting. In other words, she's not backing down. Good for her - ethically anyway. But given how vengeful Jim Jones is, probably bad for her professionally.

The text below is what Selinda has written in response to this latest round of Clallam County sleaze:

Executive Summary:

Please find attached a report I compiled entitled "The City's Request to Borrow $7.75 Million, the Law of Public Funds, and the Clallam County Administrator's Recommendation."

During the September 30, 2013 work session between the City ofPort Angeles and the Board of Clallam County Commissioners (BOCC), the County Administrator rendered a grossly inaccurate explanation of Washington State Attorney General Opinion AGO 61-62 No. 139 while trying to convince the BOCC to loan $7.75 million to the City of Port Angeles for its landfill problem.

This grossly inaccurate explanation was then reported by the Peninsula Daily News, leaving all those who listened to or read about it (the BOCC, other county elected officials and department heads, the press, other taxing districts, taxpayers, and voters) with the gross misunderstanding that the Clallam County Commissioners can lawfully loan up to $30 million from the County's General Fund, Road Fund, and Capital Projects Fund to other taxing districts.

As the duly elected Clallam County Treasurer, I am "the people's representative with the people's money," and directly accountable to Clallam County's taxpayers for the safekeeping of their taxpayer funds. As such, I believe it is well within my due diligence duty to attempt to correct any gross misunderstanding the County Administrator may have left in the minds of Clallam County taxpayers as to how their taxpayer funds may be lawfully used.

The purpose of this public work session is one such attempt to try and correct that misunderstanding.

I think that Monday's County Commissioner meeting just got a lot more interesting...