No action by City Council on ex-Mayor’s role in Haines Wharf cost overruns

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Haines Wharf Park, located at 162nd Street Southwest & 76th Avenue West.

Despite Councilmember Steve Bernheim’s claims that former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson ”bullied and intimidated” Edmonds City Councilmembers, didn’t answer Councilmembers’ questions about city finances and wasn’t transparent about cost overruns at Haines Wharf Park, the Council at its Tuesday night meeting chose not to take any action against the former mayor.

In fact, with the exception of Bernheim, the council had a neutral or even conciliatory tone toward the whole incident. Councilmember Diane Buckshnis — who often butted heads with Haakenson during the short time the two worked together — stated that the council also bore some responsibility for not providing more oversight. “I think we should just move forward,” she said.

“We had a mayor that treated a city like it was a business and the city is not a business, it’s a municipality,” she said, adding that as city councilmembers, “the buck stops here and the buck didn’t stop here. We’re all at fault. ”

In his report, Bernheim cited “the failure of the mayor and other directors to advise the council that he had entered into nine change orders for a total of more than $675,000 on the Haines Wharf Project.” Since the situation came to light, the council has adopted a policy governing the processing of change orders on city contracts.

Bernheim’s report was aimed at helping the council determine if it should ask for a formal investigation into whether Haakenson violated city policy when he approved the change orders. Mayor Mike Cooper suggested an alternative: having the State Auditor’s Office review the entire Haines Wharf Park construction project and offer their feedback on how the process was conducted — a move that wouldn’t cost the city anything. While some on the council agreed that might be a good approach, there appeared to be no motivation to proceed, and the council moved on to other business.

Later, during the Mayor’s comment period, Cooper revealed that the construction company for the Haines Wharf Park project — Precision Earthworks — has filed a claim against the city for $951,000. After the meeting, City Council President Strom Peterson said that until that claim is settled, there is no way the State Auditor will review the Haines Wharf project anyway, so any possible future actions are on hold indefinitely.

Also during the meeting, the council:

– Received a report from city staff on how Edmonds Community Development Code changes have allowed for the creation and display of outdoor wall murals within the City of Edmonds. The Council also heard from citizens expressing both support and concerns about the 11 murals that have been painted on downtown buildings so far. Two of those speaking noted that the city has no oversight over the selection of murals that are painted (the program is run by the nonprofit Edmonds Mural Society), and expressed worries about deterioration of the murals over time.  Speaking for the mural society, Jeff Stilwell said that a special long-lasting paint is used to prevent deterioration for many years, and also noted that mural society members inspect the murals for degradation on a regular basis. When asked by Buckshnis whether there was a plan to eventually paint more murals in other areas outside the downtown core, Stilwell said the limiting factor for the murals regardless of locale is finding building owners amenable to leasing wall space, as many fear it will reduce their property values.

– Held a 90-minute work session on the 2012 budget. Interim Finance Director Jim Tarte started by reviewing the 2011 budget and noted that so far, the city is on track to have a $600,000 surplus by the end of 2011. He was quick to point out, however, that the surplus can be attributed to belt-tightening during 2011 — including not funding some city programs — which is not sustainable for the long term.

– Received an update on the city’s Strategic Planning process from Community Services and Economic Development Director Stephen Clifton. Given the possibility of significant changes in the city in the next few weeks, including a possible change in mayor and councilmembers during the Nov. 8 election, Clifton told the council it’s likely that the timeline for completing the plan will be extended.

At the end of the meeting, Cooper congratulated City staff for their tireless efforts to ensure that Dick’s Drive-In could open in a timely manner. It was just a year ago that Dick’s announced it would be locating in a new restaurant on Highway 99 near 220th Street Southwest in Edmonds, and the restaurant will open this Thursday, six weeks ahead of schedule.

47 COMMENTS

  1. I appreciate both council members (Steve Bernheim and Diane Buckshnis) who are letting the public know the details of the Haines Wharf Park incident.
    Steve can speak freely as he is not running for Council again and Diane will be much more careful in the future to increase transparency in city government.

  2. People like Buckshnis are what’s wrong with government today. I guess you don’t have to be qualified to get elected. The truth of the matter is you can run government a lot like a business. Ever heard of cost effectiveness, efficiency, biggest bang for the buck, management expertise, prioritization, visions and goals, etc.? It’s this frame of mind that these people have that has got to change. More business people should be running government.

  3. At last night’s council meeting, Diane Buckshnis once again said that you can’t run government like a business. I believe this is one more issue in which the 80/20 rule applies – probably 80% is the same and there’s only a difference with 20%. Ms. Buckshnis needs to be more specific.

  4. If I go to Starbucks and buy a coffee drink, I don’t care if CEO Howard Schultz uses the profits from that purchase to pay for cost overruns on his corporate jet. I don’t care whether he tells anyone that that’s what he’s doing with the money. That’s because Starbucks is run like a business. They don’t have to be transparent with their finances.

    I’m a little surprised anyone is confused about Councilmember Buckshnis’ comment. She’s always talked about transparency as the important thing that distinguishes a government from a business.

  5. If I want a greater influence on the board of a corporation, I can just buy more votes, since one share= one vote. I don’t think that’s what we want. (If you look at campaign contributions, you could argue that’s what we have.)

    But rather than pick apart your analogy, I’ll just say that if I own Starbucks stock and I want transparency from Howard Shultz, I’ll vote for the board candidate who is going to demand it.

    I don’t think Councilmember Buckshnis owes anybody here answers until Bob Wilcox starts showing up on My Edmonds News to answer questions. He says he’s for transparency but it seems he can’t walk the walk.

  6. I think that maybe dianne is saying that in goverment one person can not just make decisions with a business one can. I don’t know why people keep bring up haines park in the first place that money is spent and gone. Let me ask the critics this when your in the middle of a job like that and you come across problems what are you suppost to do stop with a big hole in the ground or just spend more money and finish the job. It wasn’t that much money and the job is done. Trust me on this 9 times out 10 the cheapest way out is to just spend more money and finish the thing.

  7. I was astonished to find out that the consent agenda has not been reviewed in
    detail by the city council. When Steve Bernhiem asked for more detail on the Hains wharf project three times an was rebuffed he should have tore into staff and brought it to the councils attention.
    All of the receipts for that project were approved right under the councils nose. Hard to believe that this tradition has been going on forever. The good news in all of this
    is that it will never happen again. This is an expensive lesson. Lets move on to
    a better transparent future.
    Dave Page

  8. I think most citizens were under the impression that the purpose of last evening’s Haines Wharf City Council Agenda item was for the Mayor and representative from the City Council to recommend a process to select an outside and independent investigator who will evaluate and report back to the City Council whether any civil or criminal laws or city policies were broken. I thought the decision to do an investigation had already been made and that last night’s agenda item would disclose the recommended process the City would use to select an outside and independent investigator.

    This impression seems consistent with the Headline and initial paragraph of MEN’s article following the September 6, 2011 City Council Meeting, as follows:

    “Council votes to launch investigation into Haines Wharf Park change orders”

    “Citing a desire to get to the bottom of whether former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson violated city policy when he approved $725,000 in change orders for construction at Haines Wharf Park, the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night voted 6-1 to begin an independent investigation into the matter.”

    It now appears that the City Council decided to not even commence an independent investigation into the matter.

    Our elected officials work hard and have big time pressure on them. I do not envy the responsibilities they bear. As a citizen, this decision is hard to accept, but maybe there are reasons that justify it that we are unaware of. I’ll hold out hope that an elected official will step forward and tell the Citizens what happened and why an independent investigation will not be commenced.. I think this is necessary because I believe the City Council established a reasonable expectation in the Citizen’s that the decision to conduct an independent investigation had already been made.

    This development is made even more troubling by the additional news that the claim for Equitable Adjustments has now been formally submitted. The actual claim is 35.5% higher than the potential Equitable Adjustment amount mentioned during the August 23, 2011 City Council Meeting of $701,964. We are now told the actual claim is for $951,000.

    If the Claimant is successful, what fund will this money be paid out of? As the project was done via Fund 125, do we have an extra $951,000 in Fund 125 for this claim?

    As it appears an independent investigation will not be done, the City has apparently decided to not pursue any possible claims for relief related to this project.

    If the Claimant gets the additional $951,000 in Equitable Adjustments, or settles for a lesser amount, it looks like the full burden will be the taxpayers to bear.

  9. Mr Dolan: while I agree that you don’t need qualifications to get elected, Ms. Buckshnis was appointed, not elected. Some other sitting council members prove your point though.

  10. Ron W asks, rhetorically: “I see; during campaign season councilmembers up for election don’t have to explain themselves.”

    You are correct, they don’t, nor do the candidates competing for their job. And they don’t have to answer citizens who heckle them at every opportunity. You are fortunate that Ms. Buckshnis has responded to many of your requests despite your ongoing rudeness. She didn’t have to answer to you then and she certainly doesn’t have to now.

    Bob Wilcox doesn’t have to explain anything he says at Council or Committee meetings because he’s never said anything. He seems to think he doesn’t have to answer any questions posed here. Perhaps he thinks he is entitled to my vote by simply asking for it. Sorry, Mr. Wilcox you have to at least try to earn it. You’re not even trying.

  11. Joe , what does 15 have to do with Haines Warf park, isnt that the topic or do you just take every chance you get to campaign for your canidate and you are not the only one no reason to defend just stick to the topic. I think I have mentioned this before, didnt work then probably want work now

  12. Comment 15 is a response to comment 11. But you’re right that we’ve drifted off topic.

    I don’t know what you mean by “my candidate”.

  13. Mike: Re: #18

    You are correct, thanls for stating it. That is the exact same answer that I received from Mayor Hakkensen a few weeks ago. It ks alsol the explanation that was given by Phil Williams when he explained this all to the council in Jupy or August of last year.

    I don’t remember the exact meeting it was at but Mr.Williams did go over the fact that the project was over budget by the $700K andf had risen in cost from $1.6 million to $2.3 million.

    I don’t disagree with people who say that the change order procedure and purchasing systems needed to be corrected, but I am awfully tired of Council Members who claim they were never informed of the overages until earlier this year. They were all informed of the issues with the project well over a year ago.

    The change order approvals were not specifically mentioned at the time but the fact is, they were all told of the issues and the amounts last summer. At that point no one said a thing about a problem with paying the bills, but just wondered how come te origina;l estimates were so far off from the final amounts.

    Mike’s comments above match with what the council was told at that time.

  14. On Wednesday, August 31, 2011, I emailed Phil Williams several questions including the following:

    Please provide a detailed description of what is referred to as “Unsuitable Material” on your spreadsheet. I’ve never heard this term before. I believe you mentioned soils testing during your presentation. Was the material contaminated? What made it “Unsuitable Material”?

    Following is Mr. Williams Response:

    “Unsuitable Material” can mean many things. In this case it has nothing to do with contamination. It refers to the inability of some of the soils excavated or exposed during the project to meet the specifications necessary to be used (or reused) within the project. They could not achieve compaction that would provide required bearing strengths. This means they need to be hauled off the site and disposed of and that other material meeting specifications had to be purchased, loaded, hauled to the site and placed. This added significantly to the costs of the park and the walkway.

    Mike and Harry, please advise concerning your representation about contaminated soil. Contaminated soil is a much different issue than “Unsuitable Material”. . . for several reasons. There would be no need to “burn” unsuitable material. A man caused problem is much different than one caused by nature.

    Harry, are you saying former Mayor Haakenson told you the soil was contaminated? If so, did the City buy or accept as a donation land with environmental issues, essentially shifting the burden for environmental cleanup to the taxpayer?

    This is important to get clarified.

  15. An additional issue that should have been addressed is whether or not any of the change orders required compliance with state laws regarding public works and competitive bidding. Did any of the change orders relate to work that was not within the original scope of the project?

    This may have been the case if the soil was “Unsuitable Material”. I am fairly certain it would have been the case if the project had contaminated soil that needed to be cleaned up.

    If so, the State Auditor may rule that the work represented a separate project and that appropriate competitive bidding procedures should have been used.

    A similar concept was addressed in Report No. 75276 issued by the State Auditor’s office dated July 9, 2008. The State Auditor reported that the City did not comply with competitive bid laws related to some of the change orders associated with a $4,332,113 contract for improvements along 220th Street. 19 change orders totaling $630,639 were approved, but the State auditor determined that 3 of the change orders were for work not within the original scope of the project. The State Auditor recommended the City comply with state laws regarding public works and competitive bidding.

  16. One of the benefits of requiring competitive bidding for work not within the original scope of the project . . ., is that it keeps the Legislative body, the City Council, in the loop related to changes in the scope of a project.

    Had it been determined that the finding of “Unsuitable Material” or “Contaminated Soil” represented a change in the scope of the project, the City Council would have known all the details early on when the related additional work was put out to bid. I believe the Council would have had to approve the related contract up front, rather that find out the details after the fact.

  17. Mike….your comment about “burning” the contaminated soil has me concerned. In my mind that adds credibility to your statement about contaminated soil because it sounds like something that was actually represented to you by somebody.

    Contaminated soil is a different ball game. I believe public notice of the clean up would have been required, as well as other steps.

    I would greatly appreciate it if you and Harry would provide further information as to why you think this soil was contaminated. Thanks.

  18. I don’t remember precisely what the Mayor said about the reason for the removal of the soil. I do remember him telling me that it had to be removed and new soil brought in. Fortunately I have great notes on what was said so I will go back and research it when I have some time later today. I will post the actual response so that the record is accurate.

    As you and I have discussed, I don’t believe that you and I disagree about the need for better disclosure and better policies regarding these type items. Only about the motivation of those making claims.

    My main point was that the Coty Council continue to claim that they knew nothing about this until this year. I sit through every council meeting and know for a fact that they were made aware of the amount of the overruns and the reason more than a year ago. If they were able to be honest about that I would be more receptive to their claims.

    One example of how I think things are being distorted was when Council member Bernheim said he wanted to know “why the Mayor had kept these things from the council?”, Adrienne Fraley-Monillas asked “Did you ask him?” To which Bernheim sat in silence because he had not. Seems like a pretty rudimentary part of the investigation if you really wanted to know and weren’t pre-disposed to what you wanted your findings to be.

    Again, Ken, I don’t disagree that both things should have been and should be handled better. I would offer stronger support of any investigation if our so called “transparency leaders” were perhaps a little more truthful in their motivations.

    I will get back to you after I research my source material for the explanation from the ex-Mayor.

  19. Thanks Harry, I appreciate you and your points and I know you support Open Government and Transparency. I was hoping for an independent investigation to be conducted as an expression of Transparency. It would have provided us facts so the Citizens wouldn’t stil be wondering what took place. It is regrettable that they changed course. I still hope we will be told why. I’ll check in later and see what your notes say. Thanks!

  20. Ken I have no idea what your talking about and I have no monitary interest in the project what so ever. When I looked into it and called the city on it thats what they told me happened, I know thats the process that happens with contamitated soil buts thats about all I know. I would suggest you get ahold of the guy who Mr williams replaced he should know all about it or find out who repesented the city as a project inspecter they would have all the information. As far as I am concerned its a done deal, the council made some changes in the process thats fine but changes or not the same thing would have happened with that project . If people are going to throw shots go after the planners before the project ever started the engineering firm that planned the whole project those are the people to go after, not the exmayor trying to fix something.

  21. Ken one more thing I believe but am not certain but if you own property that has contaminated soil, I believe you are obligated to remove it, I think you have to do something with it, thats more of a dept of ecology or EPA question.

  22. Hi Mike….thanks for your help as I try to understand this soil situation. I asked the City if it was contaminated and was told it was not. It sounds like you were told differently, and that the City told you it was hauled away and burned.

    Just trying to reconcile the two different representations. Appreciate any help you can offer….thanks Mike. Harry is checking out his notes also.

  23. Check to see if they had to haul away the soil because it was unsuitable for the footings on the retaining wall. It could be clay. I know that the hill North of the site has had a mud slide. You have to have a permit to haul contaminated soil and dispose of it.

  24. Thanks Paul, I have checked with the City and the City did represent that it was unsuitable material, not contaminated soil. I trust and believe this is what happened.

    However, when I saw Mike’s post that: “They had a whole bunch of contaminated soil so they could not use the soil they had for fill they had to haul it away and have it burned then bring in soil also the hill was moving so they had to fix that.”; followed by Harry’s representation that: “That is the exact same answer that I received from Mayor Hakkensen a few weeks ago.” . . . I simply thought I should ask Mike and Harry to confirm their statements.

    Mike’s comment related to the City having to have the soil burned stood out to me.

    Another document that might shed some light on the issue is the $951,000 claim for Equitable Adjustments. Perhaps Harry can ask the City to provide this claim so it can be posted on MEN for the citizens to see. It would be nice to have more details related to this large claim before voting on the 3 levies.

    As I said above, the $951,000 claim is 35.5% higher than the potential Equitable Adjustment amount mentioned during the August 23, 2011 City Council Meeting of $701,964.

    If the Claimant is successful, what fund will this money be paid out of? As the project was done via Fund 125, do we have an extra $951,000 in Fund 125 for this claim? With levies pending, it would be nice if the City would answer these two questions.

    As it appears an independent investigation will not be done, the City has apparently decided to not pursue any possible claims for relief related to this project.

    If the Claimant gets the additional $951,000 in Equitable Adjustments, or settles for a lesser amount, it looks like the full burden will be the taxpayers to bear.

  25. Ken that $951 a large part of that is because of a different deal, the contractor poured some sidewalks that were not finished correctly, I did’nt see them but I was told they were pretty bad. He had to chip all the concrete down about an inch or two and then do an overlay process it finally turned out ok, After I believe a couple of trys. At any rate I believe that what the current law suit is about.

  26. Thanks for the info Mike.

    I’d appreciate it if the City makes the details of the $951,000 claim available for our review, so we can review the claim.. The City does so for other claims. There were three claims for damages attached to last weeks agenda . . . with details made available to any citizen who wanted to read them. This is standard practice related to claims for damages.

    I think the citizens should also be provided the details related to this large claim for Equitable Adjustments. Hopefully they will do so, and do so promptly so we can have this info before we vote on the levies.

    I think we also should be told what fund will this money be paid out of. As the project was done via Fund 125, do we have an extra $951,000 in Fund 125 for this claim?

  27. Ken, sorry this took me so long to do. I had some foot issues and didn’t get to it. Here is the quote of what the ex-Mayor told me.

    “Every time they dug dirt out, it was clay, it was mud.
    They were going to save it and put it back in, that’s typically what you do, you save the dirt, dig out the foundation and then you put it back in.

    Well they couldn’t save this dirt, it was so bad. So, they not only had to remove the bad soil, dig the foundation even farther to get past where the bad stuff was and then they had to bring in good soil.”

    I apologize for the error in connecting it with the soil being burned explanation. I just remembered the dirt needing to be removed and replaced and thought that meshed with the other explanation. My apologies for the error.

  28. Thanks for the information Harry. The comment about burning the soil concerned me, as I’m sure you understand.

    I wish the City would have stopped when they found the bad soil and assessed the impact the Unsuitable soil would have on the project and the project’s costs. I wish the council had been told promptly about the soil conditions so our elected City Council could have been involved in the decision making process.

    I believe a good argument can be made that hauling away an unknown amount of Unsuitable soil and purchasing an unknown amount of good soil (with related trucking) to replace it was outside the scope of the original contract and required new competitive bidding. Did the City pay Precision Earthworks directly for the new soil and related trucking expenses in both directions? If so, were they or their subcontractor the lowest cost provider of the trucking services and new soil related to this unforseen development?

    Is anybody out there aware of how many cubic yards of material was involved? It would be nice to know how much of the project’s total cost related to the Unsuitable soil issue. I’d like to see the invoice or invoices specifically related to the purchase of good soil.

    Thanks again Harry. I hope your foot is much better!

  29. RE: Post #34 above:

    Just noticed the following on the City Council’s draft agenda for 11/1/11 Meeting:,

    Acknowledge receipt of a Claim for Equitable Adjustment from Precision
    Earthworks, Inc. ($951,924.48).

    Hopefully there will be attachments to the agenda that will provide details related to the claim. This is usually available Friday afternoons before Council Meetings.

  30. Ken or Harry,

    Do you remember the time frame of the dirt haul out? I would like to look at City Council minutes because I am not willing to assume that the council did not know about the soil conditions at the park site. maybe I can look at minutes from around that time to see if there was a notification of discussion about this situation.

  31. Hi Bill, There is a very detailed timeline prepared by Steve Bernheim attached to the City Council Agenda for October 18th. It will probably provide some guidance.

    In addition, following are three of the larger payments made:

    March 25, 2010 – $248,383.92 (Voucher 117953 related to payment #7)
    April 22, 2010 – $239,444.95 (Voucher 118532 related to payment #8)
    June 10, 2010 – $234,070.17 (Voucher 119476 related to payment #9)

    I’m not sure of the lag time between when the services were performed versus when they were billed, but a review of the minutes between late 2009 and mid 2010 might be a good starting point for your research. Let us know what you find out. Thanks.

  32. Bill…just noticed this in the May 26, 2010 Planning Board Minutes. It does not look like any Council Members attended this Planning Board Meeting:

    PARKS, RECREATION AND CULTURAL SERVICES QUARTERLY REPORT

    Mr. McIntosh reported on the following park items:

     76th Avenue West/75th Place West Walkway – The new walkway from just south of Meadowdale Beach Road to north of the new park is now finished and provides walkability to a neighborhood that was previously a very dangerous stretch
    of confined roadway. For the first time, it is now possible for pedestrians to journey safely by sidewalk from downtown Edmonds to the City limits and beyond to Meadowdale Beach Park.

     Haines Wharf Park – Haines Wharf Park is currently under construction, but the opening has been delayed due to
    numerous challenges with slope and soils. It is now taking final shape and will provide wonderful views from all points in and above the park. It will be a unique park and provide something for everyone.

    Bill….I then looked back to February 10, 2010 Planning Board Minutes….much discussion on what to name the park, many citizens spoke, but I do not see any mention of soil issues. The only comments I see related to conditions are as follows:

    Board Member Stewart said she likes the park plan. She asked what was done to address stormwater runoff given that the property has a significant slope. She asked if the plans include pervious pavement or sidewalks, etc. Mr. McIntosh answered that no pervious sidewalks or pavement would be used. However, drainage was a concern and was adequately addressed. Board Member Stewart observed that this would have been a wonderful opportunity for the City to use pervious surfaces. She suggested that this be a consideration with future park projects.

    Hence….if I had to guess based on the planning board minutes….the soil problems may have been noticed by staff between February and May of 2010. Hard to tell when the Council may have been informed.

    Hope this helps a little. Let me know if you find better info.

  33. Documentation related to the Precision Earthworks Claim for $951,924.48 is now available on the City’s website. I highly recommend citizens read it as it is very interesting.

    A SAMPLE of the comments follows:

    1. ” Precision Earthworks has been in business since 1983 and has never resorted to the claims procedures to resolve issues, or to receive monies due them on projects.”

    2. “Since the Notice to Proceed by the City of Edmonds, the basic contract scope bid by Precision has been abandoned by the City. The only thing that remains per bid is(sp) that the location of the project is in the same physical location as it was prior to construction. These facts are indisputable and cannot be denied by the City. A few items are listed below for your reference as to scope revisions, design changes, omissions, misdesigns by the City, and the complete lack of management by the City of Edmonds personnel on the contract.”

    3. “In fact, as problems on this project increased exponentially from the beginning, the City of Edmonds’ response was to transfer knowledgeable employees off of this troubled project, and on to other work. This method of resolution employed by the City further delayed any decision made by the City, and left the Contractor in confusion and seeking answers daily.”

    The portion of the claim that relates to how the City administered progress payments is very interesting and should be read by all interested Citizens of Edmonds. It includes the following comment by Precision Earthworks: “This financial blackmail by the City of Edmonds occurred on a regular basis, and is the source of many of our requests for payment.”

    The letter related to the Claim concludes as follows:

    “In conclusion, Precision Earthworks, Inc. has been used by the City of Edmonds as a pawn in getting work done with an ever changing scope. Payments by the City have not reimbursed Preciaion for all of their costs on contract line items, lump sum prices, standby, force account, ectended job site overhead, or extended homeoffice overhead.”

    MY NOTE to all – Remember, Significant changes to the scope of any project apparently require new competitive bidding under State Law. Precision Earthworks states openly that this project had an ever changing scope.

    It is very puzzling why the City did not obtain new competitive bidding when the scope of the project changed so dramatically. Especially when the City had been sanctioned for not doing so in the past by the State Auditor’s Affice related to a 220th street project.

  34. To find Precision Earthworks Claim, go to the City of Edmonds Homepage.
    Then do the following:

    1. Under the City Governemnt tab, click on City Council.
    2. At the City Council page, click on Council Agenda.
    3. Change the month to November, 2011.
    4. Click on the blue November 1, 2011 next to City Council Meeting.
    5. Scroll down to item E., and click on the blue link to : Precision Claim for Equitable Adjustment . The 6 page PDF will be available to read.

    One other thing I noticed in the Vouchers section was a $1,132.27 payment to Alphagrahics for “copies of Precision Claim”. I’m not sure, but it looks like another $1,132.27 may have been spent related to the Haines Wharf Issue.

    I encourage all citizens to get very familiar with the City’s website as it contains much helpful information.

    When reading Precision Earthworks claim letter, please realize that you need to hear the City’s side of the story also. I hope the City provides such in great detail soon so we all have a better idea of what took place.

  35. Ken don’t believe any of that if the concrete work wasn’t messed up there would be no lawsuit. MY guess is all there doing is trying to recover some of the money they spent on that. You have already shown they they did get payed.

  36. Ken, I have worked with city staff as a member of the Citizens Technology Advisory Committee, CTAC and on the Economic Development Commission. In those capacities we have watched the development of a new and greatly improved city web site. You will find it very helpful in when it is launched for full public consumption. You can see parts of it by going to the Prop 2 and 3 links on the current home page and then looking around.

  37. I will do so at my earliest opportunity Darrol. Thanks to you and others for the major committment to this project….truly….thank you as I know it requires much hard citizen volunteer and staff work.

  38. John and Darrol,

    I just spent a few minutes reviewing the new City Website. All I can say is Wow!… Truly fantastic.

    A huge thanks to all involved!

  39. I am a litte confused by the Claim for Damages of $1,000,000.00 submitted by Precision Earthworks, Inc and stamped received by the City on February 14, 2012.

    In a letter attached to the Claim for Damages from the Attorneys representing Precision Earthworks, the “Descpription of Claim” includes the following comment:

    “In addition to the damages set forth in Precision’s claim for equitable adjustment, Precision has suffered additional damages as a result of the City’s tortious conduct.”

    Do we now have a $1,029,149.45 claim for equitable adjustment PLUS a new Claim for Damages of $1,000,000.00?

    I’d appreciate other’s thoughts on this.

  40. The Everett Herald is reporting this morning, February 27th, that Precision Earthworks is seeking $950,000 in one claim plus $1 million in another claim, for a total of $1.95 million in claims against Edmonds. Hence, it appears we do have two claims.

    The Herald’s article also states that Phil Williams, Edmonds’ public works director, has indicated that a subcontractor is expected to file a $250,000 claim.

    The Herald’s article states that Precision Earthworks is charging that Edmonds has not paid them for aspects of the project that were inserted after the company won the bid. This brings to mind the question of whether or not any of the change orders required compliance with state laws regarding public works and competitive bidding. Did any of the change orders relate to work that was not within the original scope of the project?

    The State Auditor has recommended in the past that the City comply with state laws regarding public works and competitive bidding, as discussed in Comment No. 21 above.

    To the best of my knowledge, the 2010 State Audit of Edmonds is not complete. I believe the audit for 2010 commenced around August 1, 2011. The 2009 Audit Reports were released between August 30, 2010 and September 27, 2010. The 2008 Audit Reports were released between July 10, 2009 and August 24, 2009.

    Finally, the Herald’s article states that Edmonds has hired two consultants to evaluate Precision Earthworks’ claims and its books. The related findings are to be reported to the City Council in March.

  41. I’ve been informed by the Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) that they plan to hold an exit conference with City of Edmonds officials soon, related to the 2010 audit. The SAO states further that they have not scheduled a specific date for the exit conference.

  42. I’ve been informed that the Washington State Auditor’s Office (SAO) has scheduled the Exit Conference related to the City’s 2010 audit at 2:00 PM, April 4th in the Brackett Room at City Hall. I hope many citizens can attend that SAO Exit Conference. It is unusual for an audit of Edmonds to be completed after so much time has passed.

    My Edmonds News reported the following after the October 18, 2011 City Council Meeting:

    “Later, during the Mayor’s comment period, Cooper revealed that the construction company for the Haines Wharf Park project — Precision Earthworks — has filed a claim against the city for $951,000. After the meeting, City Council President Strom Peterson said that until that claim is settled, there is no way the State Auditor will review the Haines Wharf project anyway, so any possible future actions are on hold indefinitely.”

    I’m uncertain what City Council President Peterson meant, but it appears possible that the State Auditor may have had to review the Haines Wharf situation before the Precision Earthworks Claim(s) have been settled. I’ve looked for evidence that the claims have been settled in the March City Council Meeting Minutes but have not noticed anything. The March 22nd and 27th, 2012 Meeting Minutes are available on the City’s website in draft form only.

    The October 18, 2011 Edmonds City Council approved minutes indicate:
    “Mayor Cooper explained Mr. Tarte is in the process of reconciling all the vouchers and change orders regarding Haines Wharf. When that is complete, he recommended the State Auditor’s Office (SAO) be asked to carefully review the history of the Haines Wharf Park project and inform the City whether or not policy was followed with regard to change orders, what could have been done differently, what improvements could be made with regard to the management of construction projects, whether approval of vouchers is informing the Council of change orders, etc. It is up to the Council to decide whether to pursue other options for an investigation. He noted review by the SAO is the least costly first step. If the SAO identifies something glaring, further steps may be necessary.”

    The Herald’s February, 2012 article stated that Edmonds has hired two consultants to evaluate Precision Earthworks’ claims and its books. The Herald stated the related findings were to be reported to the City Council in March. Maybe this has taken place but it is hard for a citizen to determine. All I know is the Council has convened in Executive Session regarding potential litigation per RCW 42.30.110(1)(i) before the March 20th and 27th, 2012 City Council Meetings. The Council plans on convening in Executive Session regarding potential litigation per RCW 42.30.110(1)(i) again before the April 3, 2012 City Council Meeting, one day before the SAO Exit Conference. Perhaps the City Council will vote to settle the claim(s) after that Executive Session. If so, it will have to be done in an Open Public Meeting.

    Another thing to remember is that the October 18, 2011 Edmonds City Council approved minutes indicate:

    “Mr. Tarte explained the Auditor has communicated they plan to issue a finding to the Finance Department; the same person reconciles the bank statement, issues invoices and takes money to the bank. Reestablishing the above two positions will solve that issue as well as initiate best practices. There may be another finding in regard to how the financial statements were prepared.”

    To the best of my knowledge, following are three items that can result from a State Audit:

    1. FINDINGS – Issues identified during the course of the audit significant enough to be included in the audit report.

    2. MANAGEMENT LETTERS – Issues identified in the audit that aren’t significant enough to report as findings, but still warrant attention by the City and are included in a separate letter to the City.

    3. EXIT ITEMS – Issues identified in the audit communicated to the City at the exit conference. Exit items typically are one-time occurrences; have been corrected by the end of the audit field work; and/or the tone of City’s management’s response indicates the item will be corrected.

    I believe the public has an opportunity to learn much by attending the SAO Exit Conference on April 4th.

  43. On February 27, 2012, the Everett Herald reported that Precision Earthworks is seeking $950,000 in one claim plus $1 million in another claim, for a total of $1.95 million in claims against Edmonds.

    The Herald’s article also stated that Phil Williams, Edmonds’ public works director, has indicated that a subcontractor is expected to file a $250,000 claim.

    The Herald’s February 27, 2012 article states that Edmonds has hired two consultants to evaluate Precision Earthworks’ claims and its books. The related findings are to be reported to the City Council in March.

    I am unaware of whether or not the related findings were reported to the City Council in March or April. Washington Court’s website indicates the City of Edmonds filed a Notice of Appearance, Answer & Affirmative Defense related to Snohomish Superior Court Case Number: 12-2-03177-9 on March 14, 2012. A Notice of Absence/Unavailability was filed by somebody on April 16, 2012.

    The Agenda for the May 8, 2012 City Council Committee Meetings is available on the City’s website. Before the City Council adjourns to its City Council Committee Meetings on Tuesday night, the Council will be asked by Mayor and Staff to approve change orders related to the Haines Wharf Park and Walkway Project. The request is a revision to Previous Change Order No. 11, dated February 21, 2012, that was originally for $18,631.61. Change Order No. 11 was apparently submitted February 21, 2012, three days before Snohomish County received the filing fee related to Court Case Number: 12-2-03177-9.

    I hope the City Council will ask Mayor and Staff whether or not any of the change orders being recommended for payment relate to work that was not within the original scope of the project. It is very important to comply with state laws regarding public works and competitive bidding.

    I also find the interest amount of 1 percent a month interesting in this interest rate environment. It is possible the law requires this interest rate.

    Finally, I am curious about the impact paying this change order will have on the related legal action.

    Following is the narrative from the Mayor and staff’s related recommendation:

    The City received a construction claim on October 13, 2011 for $951,924.48 from Precision Earthworks on the Haines Wharf Park and Walkway Project. In response to the claim and in accordance with the contract, the City reserved six months to research and review the claim. The City’s review is now complete and staff recommends that a change order for $95,138 be approved for payment. The change order includes $18,631 of work that had been previously approved for payment, plus an additional $72,176 for claim items that were found to have merit and have sufficient supporting documentation. An additional $4,331 in interest was added to the $72,176 since the claim was received in October 2011 and is now being paid. A summary of the change order costs are shown in attachment 1. Staff recommends the change order be paid from the General Fund ending fund balance.

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