Letter to editor: Preliminary investigation of Haines Wharf change orders reasonable

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Not all of the Edmonds City Council members believe that “criminal behavior” occurred or that a “punishment” needs to be “handed out” regarding non-prior approval of change orders on Haines Wharf Park.  These are ridiculous, self-serving statements at best.

I voted for a preliminary investigation in order to get the information and facts out correctly to the citizens of our great city.  Right now we have a lot of speculation about former elected as well as former staff that are being found guilty by current elected and in the press.  To not investigate and release the facts is not transparency in itself to the citizens.  No one connected with the communication failure of Hanes Wharf Park should fear this. Mistakes happen. We are human.

I see no harm in reasonably investigating where “we” went wrong and how “we” need to make sure this doesn’t occur in the future.  I say “we” as the city council also has an obligation to review all expenditures which are given to us on a routine basis.  In this case, we also need to investigate ourselves.

Policies and procedures regarding change orders and approval over a certain amount need to be in place and followed. I question why some knew about this “Failure of Law” a year ago according to the paper and didn’t discuss with all of Edmonds City Council until now, election time. Edmonds Councilwomen Diane Buckshnis tried to tell the council and the public about irregulars in the financials during this past year and she was summarily dismissed by many of the elected and some staff.

Most bothersome is the political and personal implications of this. If you have followed the city politics at all you are aware of a council person who is running for reelection’s personal vendetta toward Mr. Haakenson. When they were both serving the infighting became uncomfortable and intolerable for the rest of us. Currently, this person takes every opportunity while on camera, during our meetings to insult Mr. Haakenson, who is vigorously supporting a particular other candidate running in Edmonds.

Using the City of Edmonds money and its citizens for political gain during an election is the nastiest of politics. This in my opinion is democracy at its worse, not its best, as some will argue. I hope everyone waits to judge the Haines Wharf project and change orders when the facts are investigated.

Just because I know the question will be said of me:  Mr. Haakenson supported and endorsed my opposition both times I ran for city council and he has given me no campaign money. I am not a close personal friend of Mr. Haakenson. I have no dog in this fight except what I believe to be ethics, principles, money and the ideals of our citizens.

Adrienne Fraley-Monillas
Edmonds City Council

13 COMMENTS

  1. AFM, no money is being spent. Councilmember Bernheim and I are creating a factual timeline. So, in my opinion no executive commentary should be made public. I have so much documentation to put in SB’s matrix so any speculation is premature.

  2. Ms. Fraley-Monillas,

    For readers of your letter, can you please clarify by name the “council person” you represent has a personal vendetta toward Mr. Haakenson? Your following comment seems to imply that it is a council person running against a candidate who is supported by Mr. Haakenson:

    “this person takes every opportunity while on camera, during our meetings to insult Mr. Haakenson, who is vigorously supporting a particular other candidate running in Edmonds.”

    Thank you.

  3. Ms. Fraley-Monillas,

    I am also confused by your following comment:

    “I question why some knew about this “Failure of Law” a year ago according to the paper and didn’t discuss with all of Edmonds City Council until now, election time.”

    As a citizen, I was of the belief that the presentation by Public Works Director Phil Williams during the August 23, 2011 City Council Meeting was to inform the Council of the previously approved change orders for the 162nd Ave Park (Haines Wharf Park) and 75th/76th Walkway Project.

    Are you representing that “some” people were politically motivated to withhold this information from others until now, election time?

    Please name those you are referring to as “some” in your comment. Are you referring to elected officials? City staff? or a combination of both? You stated “some knew about this “Failure of Law” a year ago according to the paper”…..please clarify what paper disclosed this.

    Can you imagine how frustrating these charges of political motivation are for citizens who simply want to know what took place at Haines Wharf? We need to know that our taxpayer money has been and is going to be managed under the laws of our State and City. Hopefully, an investigation will find all was legal. Either way, it is clear we probably should improve and clarify our specific City laws so that this type of situation has much greater Council involvement in the future.

    As a reminder, the August 23, 2011 City Council Meeting Minutes document the following:

    Mr. Williams explained he came into the project late but has drawn the following conclusions:
    • This project is not an example of the way the Public Works and Parks Department management teams want to work with the Council or the public on future projects.
    • Accurate and timely communication, especially when things are not going well, is what the Council has a right to expect.
    • We need to achieve transparency in our management of projects to maintain our credibility in managing public funds.
    • Not all projects go well. Haines Wharf Park did not go well.
    • A policy on processing change orders is necessary

  4. Ken,

    please read the Herald article on 9-8-11. All your questions should be resolved.

    Yes Phil Willams brought information to our attention on 8-23 as well as on CS/DS committee that month. I was not notified a year ago as in Herald article.

    Adrienne

  5. Thanks Adrienne,

    There are two articles dated 9-8-11 on the Herald’s website. I’ve read both several times and the only thing I see related to my questions is the following comment:

    Mayor Mike Cooper said his concerns arose long before election season; he said he’s been looking into the issue for the year he’s been in office.

    “This is about transparency,” he said.

    I am unable to determine if any of my questions are resolved by the contents of these two articles. I’d appreciate it if you would provide answers to my questions as well as name the “council person” you represent has a personal vendetta toward Mr. Haakenson.

  6. Ms Fraley Monillas, I agree with your artical in the Beacon. The timing is politically motivated and I find it hard to believe that this has not been turned over to an indepent fact finding group. Council members should not be involved to make sure there is no political motivation and not to have transparency hidden by executive sessions.

  7. One other point I’d like to make is the following:

    The concept that “some” people were politically motivated to withhold this information from others until now, election time, is questionable. In my opinion, the fact that most candidates for public office did not announce their intentions until May or June of 2011, greatly reduces the chances the so called delay of the release of this information is politically motivated.

    I believe the delay is more likely related to the significant turnover of Mayor and staff during the second half of 2010. I believe it is a reasonable belief that delay of the release of this information was due to the major transitions that took place at City Hall over the last year.

  8. What goes around, comes around. And do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Etc, many more proverbial statements also may apply.

    The Mayor, Council, and new City Attorney should check on the continuing remnants of the Totem Pole lawsuit initiated about 10 years ago by Mayor Haakenson. This involved, I believe, a contractor fishing a sawed up non authentic cedar totem pole out of a dumpster, while the mayor apparently claimed it for the city. One leading citizen commented about 5 years agao that the lawsuit would continue until the vindictive Mayor Haakenson was out of office.

    Its now time to clean up that sordid affair, which stills helps to clog up Superior Court.

  9. Ron, the “remnant” or perhaps better stated as probably related to a pattern of persecution is Sno. Cty Case 05-2-08582-5. While I believe it is not directly connected to the court clogging silly totem pole suit the same opponents appear involved.

    Mr. Earling and his 2 other council votes were I believe in full support of the Mayor and his legal moves seemingly enjoying using the economic clout of the city to punish individual citizens with lesser financial backing.

    I fuzzily recall Scott Snyder a short while prior to the Mayor’s departure suggesting to Mayor Haakenson and the Council that a particularly unnecessary lawsuit be cleaned up, which I took to be related also.

    Perhaps its time for your suggestion to review all city of Edmonds litigation laying around in Superior Court by our leaders, with an eye to clean up the slate.

  10. Diane, I went to the web sight and only found articals and comments . no mention of a settlement. Could you help me out to get to the settlement. I hope this was not used for politics,

  11. Don,

    At the risk of not being fully informed I’ll say what I interpret my referenced lawsuit to be about: The totem pole defendant requested a building permit which was approved and completed. Then the city discovered that there was some sort of a code violation and that the building permit should nevet have been approved. Nonetheless the applicant was told to undo the construction, which he refused to do, so then we have now what appears to most as a continuing “get even” legal action, “a son of totem pole suit”; which now may have been turned over to a collection agency. Apparently the “fine” may be something like $100 a day. The construction involved a circular U driveway and a new garage. No occupanncy permit has been issued. The state may have been involved earlier but apparently bailed out of the case long ago; perhaps that was the reason the violation was not known to the city when the permit was approved.

    I strongly believe that a fair minded arbiter could quickly resolve this in equitable and just manner. I’ve looked at the site, and see nothing out of touch with normal and attractive Edmonds construction; in fact my home, which I finished bullding in 1996 has a detached garage and a circular U drive similiar to the targeted property. However,again, my home is not adjacent to a state highway.

    I believe this is the case Scott Snyder had in mind when he suggested to the former Mayor and the Council that it was time to clean this one up, Its termination would further our current elected ones’ goal to bring full transparency back to Edmonds

    It seems to me that the new city attorney should research this story and publicly brief the Council, with a goal of terminating this continuing unnecessary, expensive, court clogging, and vindictive litigation quickly in the public interest..

    .

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