Cost overruns, Port letters, congrats to E-W | Letters to the Editor

Nov 03, 2017

City Clerk: City was not negligent in email request

I wish I didn’t have to do this, but I would be remiss if I failed to correct what I consider to be a glaring error in Councilmember Kristiana Johnson’s letter to the editor regarding her records request (“Councilmember apologizes for email solicitation,” Oct. 26).

She says, in part: “I regret that the city did not keep you informed that the request was cancelled.” I’m surprised that Councilmember Johnson does not recall that she and I discussed this very issue before the start of the Sept. 26 City Council meeting, two business days after she withdrew her request.

She asked me if we had informed the email group that her request was cancelled. I told her that we hadn’t notified them, but could still do so if she desired. She then left for a moment to consult with a colleague.

When she returned, she said she was advised to just drop the issue and let it die. I agreed with her assessment, and let her know we would not provide further notification. Unfortunately, her public statement implies that our office was negligent in its duties, yet it was her decision not to notify the group.

Thank you for the opportunity to clarify this issue.

Scott Passey
Edmonds City Clerk

 

Cost overruns symptomatic of city’s blithe disregard of city business

On Sept. 28, the Edmonds Beacon reported that the Edmonds City Council had approved $112,000 in cost overruns on the Edmonds Veterans Plaza project in just a five-month period. What effort was made to protect the taxpayers from a contractor deliberately offering a low estimate in order to get the contract with the intention all along of adding costly overruns after the fact?

The council's blithe approval of these overruns seemed terribly casual.

On Oct. 12, the Beacon reported that "The mayor (Dave Earling) admitted that the city has not kept up with maintaining its roads, and for the past five years has been playing catch-up with road resurfacing to the tune of $6 million after years of neglect and inattention."

This state of affairs is, indeed, disturbing.

Apparently, city officials like Earling and Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas and Mike Nelson are so busy promoting their "Never Trump" and leftist political agendas, creating a plethora of new commissions and voting themselves pay raises, that they don't seem to have time for mundane things like safeguarding our money and preventing infrastructure neglect.

We don't need officials who take it upon themselves to exclude conservatives from city participation and who tell everyone else their city will no longer celebrate Columbus Day. We don't need officials who are so obsessed with identity politics that they see racism behind every door and around every corner.

We need people who can remember that our city government is supposed to be nonpartisan and will confine themselves to conducting the city's business on behalf of the people of Edmonds.

Nancy Farnam
Edmonds

 

Josh Thompson motivated and passionate about Edmonds

I would like to encourage everyone to vote for Josh Thompson to be our next Edmonds city councilmember.

I have been a resident of Edmonds for 47 years and I have known Josh for more than 16 of those years. Josh and his wife Jessica are great neighbors and quite active in our community. Josh is motivated and passionate about keeping Edmonds a great place to live, work, and play.

With his background and experience, Josh would make a great addition to the City Council. He wants to keep the downtown core attractive and viable for businesses without compromising our small-town atmosphere. Josh is an unapologetic environmentalist who wants to protect the waterfront and critical areas, like the marsh.

Josh is endorsed by law enforcement and your firefighters because he knows we must support our first responders so they can keep our families safe. Public safety is very important to him and he sees emergency access to the waterfront as a top priority for the city.

Please join us in supporting Josh Thompson for Edmonds City Council.

Doug and Cheryl Parrott
Edmonds

 

Marketing brochures, and a conflict of interest at the Port

Phil Lovell is correct in his opinion (“Miscommunication about the Port,” Oct. 26) that there has been a lot of misinformation during the current Port election. However, I would describe it as “disinformation” (intentional misinformation). Lovell states:

“The Port as led by its current commissioners has always been and remains in support of plans and measures intended to improve the marsh environment.” If true, why did the incumbent commissioners spend $84,000 of public money to block the Shoreline Master Program’s City Council-approved 125 feet of protection for the Edmonds Marsh?

Another example of disinformation are the two expensive, Port brochures that were mailed to citizens of Edmonds and Woodway. Those slick marketing pieces touted the Port’s awards and honors for its marina operations. The marsh was not even mentioned in either of those pro-Port brochures.

Kudos for anything and everything that’s been done to meet the legally required Clean Water Act rules and Department. of Ecology requirements. We should be grateful for that good work and for the hard-fought battles over decades to get those rules and regulations adopted into law.

I have another question related to disinformation: Does Port-appointed commissioner and now candidate, Steve Johnston, have a conflict of interest in that he worked for Landau Associates while he, according to Johnston himself, served as CEO of Landau for a period of time while Landau was contracted for work by the Port?

And how can Johnston claim that he is “relatively new at the Port” when he has been an employee of Landau when Landau was working on Port issues related to setbacks and buffers? In the late 1990s, Johnston was project manager on the Port's Ecology-required cleanup operation that left oil-contaminated soil at the marsh.

Many of us who support balanced, fiscally and environmentally healthy management of the Port are asking these questions. Whatever the answers, you’ll be able to rely on good governance with Susan Paine, Lora Petso and Angela Harris at the helm. All three are problem solvers with exemplary credentials, experience, and knowledge to manage the Port ethically and effectively.

Rebecca Wolfe
Edmonds

 

Steve Johnston replies to Rebecca Wolfe’s letter

I appreciate the opportunity to respond to Ms. Wolfe’s letter.

By imposing a larger setback/buffer than recommended by the Washington State Department of Ecology to protect the marsh, the city of Edmonds was potentially foreclosing future redevelopment and even building improvement plans at Harbor Square, a publicly owned property.

We were simply exploring our legal options to protect the value of a public asset. If the city said that it needed to take part of your front yard, did not provide adequate justification for it, and offered you no compensation for taking it, I suspect you would have explored your legal options as well.

The Port ultimately elected to take no legal action.

The mailers were factual and well-received by the public. The Port’s 2016 communication plan calls for periodic mailers to inform the public about the Port’s mission, accomplishments on their behalf and plans for the future.

While meeting environmental requirements is expected, acknowledgement should also be given to public ports that not only meet, but exceed regulatory requirements. The Port of Edmonds is a documented leader in environmental practices.

I have no conflict of interest because I retired from Landau Associates three years before being appointed to the commission. I was asked to submit my name because of my strong environmental, technical and business management experience.

I have been a commissioner of the Port of Edmonds for less than 18 months. I would consider that “relatively new.” During my employment at Landau Associates, neither the firm nor I ever worked on Port issues related to setbacks and buffers.

After the cleanup was completed in 2005, the only contaminated soil was under two buildings at Harbor Square. There is no contaminated soil at the site along the Marsh.

Many who support balanced, fiscally and environmentally healthy management actually balance those factors. The public has had excellent governance at the Port for the past two decades, and it’s only getting better.

Not only have the commissioners managed the public’s investment well now and for the future, they have done it in a collaborative, professional, and progressive way that we all should be proud of. We try to lead by example.

Retain the current commissioners – Fred Gouge, Bruce Faires and Steve Johnston. It has been an honor to serve.

Steve Johnston
Port of Edmonds commissioner

 

Protect the marsh, not the waterfront

Campaign signs put out by one of the current Port commissioners up for reelection states that he will protect the waterfront. The marina, restaurants and other businesses don’t need protecting – the Edmonds Marsh does.

This is a prime example of the misleading statements padding the Port’s media campaign. Public relations lingo often promotes ambiguous wording, misleading statements and touting your successes while hiding your shortcomings or illegal actions.

The glossy brochure mailed to Edmonds residents in the Port’s district a few months ago is an example of its diversion tactics, boasting about economic development on the marina and boatyard, all done while maintaining environmental stewardship. The brochure didn’t clarify that environmental stewardship extends to the waterfront only, not Harbor Square or the marsh.

A letter writer in the Oct. 11 issue of the Beacon states that there is some misinformation being circulated about the environmental stewardship of the Port. There certainly is, and it’s all coming from the Port itself. Facts obtained from Port records through the Freedom of Information Act don’t lie; they are not misinformation.

The fact that the Port was forced to do an environmental cleanup of Harbor Square due to a lawsuit and not of its own goodwill is a fact taken from its own records. The fact that Harbor Square is still listed as a hazardous waste site by the Department of Ecology due to an unfinished cleanup is a fact, not misinformation.

The pricey PR firm hired by the Port to polish its image is pulling out all stops, but the citizens of Edmonds can see beyond the gloss.

I urge you to vote for Angela Harris, Susan Paine and Lora Petso for Port commissioner positions, where they can help bring continued economic development while honestly protecting our natural environment, including the Marsh.

Sharon Sneddon
Edmonds

 

Don’t fix what ain’t broke at the Port

Those who live in the Port of Edmonds districts need to give a heartfelt thanks to the Port commissioners. We have been blessed with a group of individuals who have gone above and beyond in not only protecting the asset that is the Port of Edmonds, but exceeding all expectations.

From winning environmental awards to returning the Port to fiscal stability by reducing the monetary liability by three quarters over the last decade or so – what public entity does that?

The Port of Edmonds was selected as the best marina in the country in 2006 and continues to constantly work towards excellence. Recently, the Port commission had a vacancy, and existing commissioners selected Steve Johnston to fill that vacancy. They could not have made a better choice.

Who better than one who has made his living over the last four decades as an environmental professional and business leader? None of the challengers for the port, let alone Johnston’s opponent, can come close to his knowledge and experience in being a steward for those of us who live in the Port district.

I’m a firm believer in the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Not only is it not broken, we could do great damage if we change any of the three incumbent commissioners asking for our support – Johnston, Faires and Gouge.

As for me, they all have my vote based on a job very well done.

Bob Wilcox
Edmonds

 

Vote for transparency and clarity

As the Port of Edmonds campaign has progressed, I have been heartily encouraged by the Port’s transparency. I applaud each and every detail that places it under the scrutiny of the public eye. These are promising times for Edmonds, and I applaud and commend the Port commissioners who have pressed forward in this direction.

My perspective is from living in Edmonds for 33 years and actively serving on two city boards: the Architectural Design Board and now the Planning Board. This experience informs my appreciation for transparency and clarity in city government.

Even though entries for the Port won’t be on my ballot (as I no longer reside in the Port District), I am not an impartial observer, for the Port’s success and mission is important to me and the interests of the city of Edmonds.

Vote for the experience and openness of the standing Port commissioners: Bruce Faires, Fred Gouge and Bruce Johnston.

Carreen Nordling Rubenkonig
Edmonds

 

Kudos to Edmond-Woodway’s football team

It was a great year for my Warrior football family: John Gradwohl coach of the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors winning Wesco, and his brothers, Chris and Peter, each coaching Warrior junior football teams that played for championships in their leagues last weekend.

Chris Gradwohl was the organizing force behind the establishment of Warrior Junior Football, which involves a large number of young people in the community.

Yup. I’m their mom, and I’m proud of what they do for the youth of their community.

Nancy Gradwohl
Wrangell, Alaska

 

People fight for principles, not symbols

Re: “Respect the national anthem,” Guest View, Oct. 5: I am not a combat veteran. I served my country by volunteering for the Peace Corps in the 1970s (we all express our patriotism differently). Whereas I respect the views of Michael Reagan, I disagree with his interpretation of the events related to football players taking a knee during the anthem.

We can all agree that the flag and the anthem are well-loved symbols of our country, but they are only symbols.

I cannot say what motivates another person, but I sincerely believe that when it comes down to it, people do not fight for flag and anthem – if they are motivated by patriotism, they fight for the principles those symbols stand for, as Mr. Reagan says, our “way of life.”

One of the most important of these principles is the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

This was captured most eloquently by a founding father (often attributed to Patrick Henry), “I may disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.” When people are fighting and dying for America, it is not for the piece of cloth that flies overhead – it is for the principles that flag stands for.

But being true to free speech is hard because it is not merely popular speech that is protected (that would be easy); it is unpopular speech that needs the strongest protections.

The football players choose this strategic moment to express their dissatisfaction with the way some members of society are treated because they know it is the best way to bring the conversation into focus. We should respect that because it is hard. But what is the end game of the protests?

To solve this dilemma, we need a program that will explore the grievances expressed by the players.

People from football, police departments, the attorney general’s office and the public should examine ways in which the cultural divides can be healed and all citizens made to feel safe within our society.

If that is done with sincerity and resolve, the players will see that their efforts are not in vain and that society cares about all its members.

Then they can justifiably stand with pride for the anthem. Can that happen in an environment where the president calls them SOBs? Hard to tell.

Jim Corbett
Edmonds

 

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