Accountability must be the order of the day | Letter to the editor

Posted 4/7/21

What an eye-opener The Leader’s March 18 article by Brian Kelly was!

But not a great surprise. Both Dave Robison and David Timmons have cost this community a ton of money. 

Timmons …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Accountability must be the order of the day | Letter to the editor

Posted

What an eye-opener The Leader’s March 18 article by Brian Kelly was!

But not a great surprise. Both Dave Robison and David Timmons have cost this community a ton of money. 

Timmons had nearly bankrupted the city by the time he retired, and the fact that the PDA board hired him to follow Robison spelled trouble from the beginning. In his new role as interim PDA executive director, Timmons opened with accolades for the PDA and its board and his predecessor. Thanks to The Leader and the investigative reporting by Kelly, we learned that according to Timmons, the PDA has provided excellent value to the city since its inception and the PDA board is one of the best he has ever worked with. 

Having worked with volunteer boards and having been a board member of a number of local nonprofit organizations I understand how difficult it is to be responsible for these organizations. So, I can’t be too hard on the members of the PDA board for believing what they were being told by the executive director(s) who are supposed to be professionals and responsible, given the salaries they drew.

What concerns me most is that the city pumped a significant amount of money into the PDA with virtually no accountability for results, or oversight that our public funds were being used for what the PDA had promised. There was apparently little or no accountability required by the city council thanks to their own “professional” city manager, David Timmons. We all remember the Cherry Street low-income boondoggle that was supposed to be virtually cost free to the city. It is well into the millions of taxpayer dollars and apparently has yet to open its doors to those who are desperate for affordable housing. Timmons has as many “warts” on his résumé as does Robison. How did they both last as long as they have, convincing local elected officials and the community that they knew what they were doing?

So my fear now is that the city will throw good money into what was a very bad investment to begin with. 

The so-called “glamping” structures at Fort Worden are a glimpse into just how silly the PDA became in its later days. If you haven’t seen these “tents,” they are a perfect metaphor for what went wrong. They were extremely costly and amazingly they are “built” under many of the fort’s beautiful but brittle Madrona trees, which are notorious for shedding their limbs in wind storms like the one that is howling outside my window as I write this. It really shouldn’t take a “professional” planner/administrator to see the potential for serious public liability. They structures are made of tent material!

On behalf of the PDA, former city manager Timmons, in his new role is asking the city to cosign a loan to keep it afloat. All I can say is, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on US!”  David Timmons has a solid résumé of serious boondoggles besides the city’s involvement with the PDA without oversight, and the Cherry Street housing project. The Rainier Street road and roundabout to nowhere come to mind. Millions of dollars have been spent on pie in the sky as our local arterial streets and neighborhood streets continue to crumble beyond repair. City priorities seem to be askew, at best. 

Accountability at the council level and the PDA board level should be the order of the day.

Larry Dennison
PORT TOWNSEND

Comments

2 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment
Juana Bjurnen-Hale

Excellent letter. I would recommend a snout-to-tail autopsy on the ENTIRE PDA entity at this time. Also, a thorough root canal of all the players along the way who enabled this sad Kabuki.

I know why this all was allowed to get so very bad - check out the letter written by a former County Commissioner - the bare truths exposed in Leader reporting made him drop his crumpet and cry "Hatchet job!" That's precisely how things got this bad, that's the attitude.

Like Mr Dennison, I have too had the honor and privilege of serving on various non-profit boards. At each board meeting we were presented with thick financial packets outlining expenses, income, and current amounts in the various earmarked "buckets" of money set aside for various projects. Why? Because it was our solemn duty to understand and be diligently responsible for knowing these things.

What exactly was happening at the PDA board meetings besides cookies and gossip? Seriously, where was the fiduciary diligence? Members of non-profit boards can be personally sued for negligence, and should be, for something on this scale. "We didn't know" just does not cut it at all.

Trying to blame this mess on COVID is just a disgrace. COVID has not one single thing to do with this grave mismanagement at all. When troubles arise, a responsible organization will assess, regroup, reach out, and find a solution, instead of discarding their solemn obligations and illegally shifting money, shredding documents, and the like.

The entire PDA organization is a CRIME SCENE. Not one of these actors anywhere on this poison tree should be rewarded with any additional responsibilities going forward. They should all have to answer to the law for their negligence and corruption.

Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Wednesday, April 7
HarveyW

I was told by a long time business person who knows where all the skeletons are buried to keep things brief. At times I feel a stand alone history of malfeasance involving a core of players is important. FWPDA, parking anarchy, 1.2 million dollar concrete eye sore "park" at the visitor center Cherry Street and more need to remain in the public eye.

My sometimes lengthy comments are always meant as a substantive counter narrative to the spin we always get. I am not here n the Leader to make friends. I have many I am in awe of. We have mutual real respect. Not a parasitic one hand washes the other political arrangement. I am here to do my best to be an ice breaker that other vessels can follow behind to clean up revealed chunks of dysfunctional ice. I don't mind the dents to my hull.

I see a growing number of folks becoming aware and understanding root causes. Do pay attention to the man

(and woman) behind the curtain. One insider said Timmons lasted so long because he can keep the shell game moving and no one really knows where the pea is. I grow weary of this. Other things and places call. Glad to see others stepping up on record. Elections coming. Get organized.

Thursday, April 8