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December 20, 2007

State Auditor Finds Malfeasance and Financial Waste at the Port of Seattle

Brian Sonntag's blistering report on the Port of Seattle is out and the results... well, let's just say, they're not pretty. From the P.I.:

The report describes a Port staff that constantly left money on the table to be taken by its contractors, whose original contracts often ballooned without a public bidding process. Whether by failing to recoup $80,000 when the work it was to pay for was cancelled, or giving over $106,000 because of a clogged system for processing change orders, the Port allowed the companies it was contracting with to take charge -- or take advantage of the Port's inability to do so.

The Port doctored contractor invoices to pay a contractor for work that exceeded the commission's authorization, breaking the law in the process. Even when the contract was initially awarded in accordance with the law, the Port would sometimes then pile on more work without bidding: One contract grew from $950,000 in 1993 to more than $30 million without competition.

Port management hid much of this from commissioners, who Sonntag said gave away the farm when they passed a resolution in 1994 that delegated contract oversight to management, which proceeded to abuse that power by concealing how procurement for a $32.7 million third runway contract violated applicable laws. The commission was also left out of the loop on the information that resolution did require they be given, such as contract administration and bid irregularities.

(emphasis mine)

I suspect more than a few citizens are going to wonder about those laws that were broken and the people breaking them. Paging "Accountability"... please pick up any white telephone in the lobby...

The audit mostly covers the Port's years under the stewardship of the infamous Mic Dinsmore. At 334 pages long, it's chock full of damning evidence that Dinsmore's tenure had a long-lasting effect on the credibility of the Port. The third runway at Sea-Tac is the most glaring example of out-of-control spending; the estimated cost of $405 million has swelled to $1.1 billion. And there's been a cumulatitive breakdown in communication between the executive management and the commission. Sometimes managers misinformed, sometimes they purposely hid information, which is not hard to understand, since the managers and the contractors were so busy getting warm and fuzzy with each other. Ethics? Not much. Current CEO Tay Yoshitani says he takes the audit seriously, even though he doesn't agree with all of its conclusions (frustratingly, he doesn't mention any particulars) and that he is instituting a *37-Point Plan* to remedy the situation.

I have a *2-Point Plan*:

1) let's indentify everyone who broke the law and,

2) throw their butts in jail.

It all boils down to a waste of $97.2 million in taxpayer money. Whither that noxious $67 million tax levy? And now Alec Fisken, the only port commissioner committed to doing away with the levy, is gone. Bitter realities abound.

Posted by shoephone on December 20, 2007 at 11:57 AM in Policy, Washington Culture | Permalink


Merry Christmas Shoephone.
Lets hope next year will see a blizzard of subpoenas and resignations.

Posted by: Bustednuckles | Dec 20, 2007 3:13:25 PM

Thanks Busted. Right back atcha!

And I wholeheartedly echo your sentiments regarding the politics that prevail.

Posted by: shoephone | Dec 20, 2007 6:01:09 PM

there are several sets of reasons the anti-government flat earth crowd has been so successful at gutting government for the benefit of the crooked corporate crony buddies -

1 of the most important sets of reasons for citizen distrust and disgust with government is this kind of bullshit.

people belong in jail.

on the east coast, everyone expects this cuz the only people who go into gov't are those who are too unmotivated and too connected to do anything else but go ... work on a crew with 6 people and 1 shovel, or 6 people and 1 working computer.

several elements of this particular case are definitely the SOS

secrecy breeds empires breeds no accountability and no responsibility.

usually the fascists have to lie about their actions and their intentions when acting to gut government - this kind of crap from government makes it a LOT easier for them to get away with their thievery and their destruction of public agencies.

put mic in jail.


Posted by: seabos84 | Dec 20, 2007 9:20:43 PM

I forget who said "sunshine is the best disinfectant", but he was right. Whenever a process isn't visible to the public this sort of thing can happen.

The solstice is tomorrow, and there will be a little more sunshine soon, at least literally. For us non-believers, that's worth celebrating. Happy Holidays.

Posted by: Cujo359 | Dec 21, 2007 9:51:57 AM

Cujo, the phrase comes from a Harper's article by Louis Brandeis. written in 1913 (a few years before he was appointed to the Supreme Court). The original construction is "Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; ...".

URL: http://library.louisville.edu/law/brandeis/opm-ch5.html

Posted by: Neal Traven | Dec 21, 2007 10:37:00 AM

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