Smoking Gun: Fraud and DeceptionPermalink +
Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 3:18 pm // Guest writer
Submitted by Doug Karlberg.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”
The Port of Bellingham has lost the public’s sentiment, and it must be regained. The dysfunction at our port has festered far too long. The public owns the port, but for decades only two commissioners and a loyal staff have controlled it. The public needs to retake control of the port.
The port’s narrow and self-centered outlook endangers the future of our waterfront and desperately needed jobs that it can support. The port, with the city’s help, wants to sell real estate instead of promote jobs and is now poised to wreck our capacity to support good paying jobs for the foreseeable future.
We can fix this, but first a stroll down memory lane to understand how we got here.
Our port tends to have commissioners for life. This wasn’t always true, but since the mid 1950s, commissioners have tended to remain in office for long, long times, decades in many cases. It may just be human nature, but when people remain in public office too long there can be negative effects.
The Port of Bellingham was for years the Port of Zuanich (44 years) and Asmundson (35 years). Then it became the Port of Walker (21 years) and Smith (16 years). With a three person commission, any two commissioners can effectively control our port.
Port meetings are held during weekday work hours so the public hardly ever attends. A chronic lack of public perspective feeds a creeping imperialistic control of this public founded and funded organization. Under the three-commissioner system, two port commissioners can do whatever they want. Theoretically, they constitute a quorum and should not meet to discuss port business without public notice. In practice, the efficiency and lack of debate attendant to the execution of the port’s business belies their attention to these details. Staff comes and goes, but all know who has the power at the port, and who not to cross.
Secure in their incumbency, the port commissioners decided in 2004 to condemn and seize Georgia-Pacific’s (G-P) treatment lagoon (the ASB) for the “public purpose” of a marina for large yachts. This seizure fractured the community. G-P was long a mainstay of the local economy and a major employer. Even though they were obviously winding down the operation, many felt that such heavy-handed treatment was unwarranted and unwise. The ongoing tissue operation and the co-generation plant were still using the ASB. What were these facilities expected to do?
Equally important, for nearly ten years G-P along with 14 agency stakeholders had been negotiating a robust clean up of the waterfront. G-P’s scientists, the Department of Ecology (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Wildlife, Fisheries, environmental groups and others had worked cooperatively to come up with a plan that all agreed on, one which would have cleaned up the waterway completely.
G-P was anxious to start the clean up, get it done, and sell the land.
It was a serious clean up plan supported by all who had studied and worked for years to develop and compare nine remedial alternatives (archived page with some bad links). The DOE and EPA were willing to sign off. This was not the design of a bunch of Southside carpetbagger greenies, as Port Commissioner Smith enjoyed characterizing them.
In just one month, the port flushed ten years of hard work down the toilet and adopted a plan that accomplished the least possible clean up. The most affordable way to clean up the contaminated sediments next to G-P was to store the dredge spoils in the ASB. Any large clean up requires a disposal site, but the port seized G-P’s intended disposal site for a marina. The years-long good faith effort, ready for signatures, was junked because the port wanted a yacht basin to complement the upscale condos they envisioned for the waterfront.
The shipping channel would no longer be cleaned up. Under the port’s plan the channel would be abandoned and ‘capped’, reducing its depth. This channel extended from the full depth of Bellingham Bay, past the port’s International Shipping Terminal, along much of G-P’s length, to the shoreline at the Waterfront Tavern and the Granary Building, where Citizens Dock once stood. This channel has been used for commerce extensively since Bellingham was founded. After capping, the channel will be limited to small craft and kayaks.
How polluted is the Whatcom Waterway? It is bad. Everything from the pulp mill site drained into the shipping channel for decades. The fishing fleet used to moor boats in the channel for a couple of days before hauling out for bottom work. The toxins would kill everything growing on the hull, making cleaning easy. I wouldn’t eat any of the fish out of the shipping channel, even after it is capped. This channel will probably need permanent signs warning against fishing, crabbing and clamming.
Throwing monkey wrenches into the public’s clean-up plan made marshaling public support for the ASB marina critical for the port. They hired a consulting firm to study five potential sites for a future marina, including the ASB. This report was delivered to the port and released to the public in advance of the final G-P purchase decision.
However, the report was altered to mislead the public. The report rates the ASB as the most economical site. This finding was needed to support the ASB marina plan. It was crucial to justifying both the G-P site purchase and the condemnation of the ASB. This document is now evidence.
For a time, this file was publicly available as a Word document online. It included embedded Excel object information. The document’s description of each site includes an embedded Excel spreadsheet table. If you have MS Office, you can double click on any table in the Word document and a spreadsheet will open in Excel. The Excel file includes tabs for all five sites. In four of these tables, the ASB tabs are identical and show costs of $50,731,417. However, the Word document table for the ASB lagoon shows costs of only $33,939,485. It is clear that the Word document description of the ASB site was altered after the authors embedded the Excel information. The Excel object information shows the ASB site having the highest costs. The document is a proverbial “smoking gun.”
The $21,612,932 discrepancy in favor of the ASB site, in favor of this whole unsavory waterfront boondoggle, is at least misleading and probably fraudulent. I contacted port staff for an explanation and they refused to respond. However, the online edition of the Word document immediately disappeared from their website. But not before I saved a copy!
(Note: Changing tabs with the table open in Excel can alter your copy of the document if you save the changes. To preserve the document, simply don't save changes.)
Today, searching portofbellingham.com for “marina site survey” returns a single, unsearchable PDF: The minutes of the May 19, 2009 port commission meeting in which a Mr. Stahl reports that “the Makers 2004 Bellingham Bay Marina Site Survey identified the ASB as the preferred location for a marina within Bellingham Bay.” That is not true.
These behaviors evidence a pattern of deception underlying the very essence of the waterfront plan we just adopted. This is categorically unacceptable for a public agency. It is illegal behavior that should be punished. It is cause to reconsider the entire waterfront plan before plunging the public into incomprehensibly expensive commitments.
The report includes another doozy. The consultant states that North Puget Sound will urgently need 3,100 new marina berths by 2010. Nearly four years after this dire prediction we know the prediction was bunk. Demand for yacht moorage dried up when the economy tanked. Building the marina will obligate Whatcom County taxpayers to repay nearly half a billion dollars. Would you bet a half billion that four hundred 60-100 foot yachts will want to come to Bellingham?
The marina study ignored other obvious factors. The Lummi Nation is planning a marina. Their location is closer to the northern San Juans and especially better for many fishers, most of whom are already weary of the port.
Mucking out the ASB is estimated to cost $43 million. The port is desperate to justify this expense to build a breakwater worth maybe $6 million. Alternatively, we could fill the ASB and sell the land for $10 million. We could actually clean up rather than cap the waterway and retain options for both commerce and safe fishing on the new waterfront. It would save millions in disposal costs and millions more not constructing an unneeded marina. But the port and city have worked together to hide the true costs from the public by concealing the marina in the No-Action alternative and by evidently falsifying crucial data. Even the DOE (document linked below) originally commented that the port’s strategy, “deprives the public and other interested parties of the opportunity to have meaningful input to the complete planning and development process.” That has proven true. It has allowed the port to bamboozle its citizens and the city while crafting their vision out of whole cloth.
Meanwhile, Greenberry last year leased 10+ acres from the port and spent $200 million locally. Even the port’s phony inflated numbers would require 20 years for the ASB marina to generate that much economic impact, using four times the area (37 acres) – if there were enough mega-yachts to fill the slips.
We seriously need to pull the plug on the port’s corrupt waterfront plan and make immediate changes to bring the public back into this process. Port meetings need to start happening in the evening when people can attend, like city and county council meetings. The commission must be expanded by two at-large positions to increase candidate access and reduce entrenched incumbencies. When agencies lie to their constituents, it is time for radical action. Investigating this fraud is the place to start. Who falsified these records? Who helped? On whose orders? It's deposition time!
The evolution of the waterfront plan has increasingly ignored public sentiment. This has become a common refrain from all who have tried. We need to back up, adopt an honest and open framework that can produce a plan consistent with public sentiment.
Without that, we cannot succeed. On the waterfront, we cannot afford to fail.
Attached Files:-> Read what the DOE thought of the Port hiding the marina in the No-Action plan
Related Links:-> See the Smoking Gun for yourself (2.2MB .doc)
Wed, Aug 26, 2015, 10:17 am // John ServaisPadden Creek daylighting project strays far from city promises to homeowner that his property would remain intact.
3 comments; last on Aug 26, 2015
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 5:11 am // Guest writerTraditional communal warrior reintegration practices could help our returning combat veterans.
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 7:55 pm // Whatcom CitizenA Whatcom Citizen writes of protest movements and how our proposed county mega jail is related to them.
13 comments; last on Aug 27, 2015
Wed, Aug 19, 2015, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyMoves to set the minimum wage to $15, even if successful, are woefully insufficient. And why aren't people speaking out about abusive work scheduling?
1 comments; last on Aug 20, 2015
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 12:17 am // Guest writerBruce Radtke, a retired Bellingham librarian, reported to be assaulted by police for handing out leaflets
5 comments; last on Aug 27, 2015
Sun, Aug 16, 2015, 3:39 pm // Guest writerIs the tail wagging the dog? Edward Alexander guest writes on why predictive software for our police needs basic questions answered before purchase.
1 comments; last on Aug 22, 2015
Thu, Aug 13, 2015, 11:29 am // John ServaisNothing in the Herald this morning, so NWCitizen is informing citizens of shootout at Cornwall Park.
1 comments; last on Aug 13, 2015
Sun, Aug 09, 2015, 11:52 am // Guest writerBarbara Perry has been researching the secretive election processes of the Whatcom Conservation District. Really secretive. Probably fraudulent.
1 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015
Tue, Aug 04, 2015, 8:09 pm // John Servais9:52 - final post for tonight. A running blog about the election results on this August evening. Feel free to comment.
8 comments; last on Aug 06, 2015
Tue, Aug 04, 2015, 10:14 am // Dick ConoboyWhile the city deals with permitting on the Hansen rental megaplexes, the council has asked for proposals from staff on design standards for historic areas.
9 comments; last on Aug 07, 2015
Wed, Jul 22, 2015, 12:42 am // Guest writerEric Hirst provides us all with a well researched report on Whatcom County water issues - rights, Lake Whatcom, ground water and more.
10 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015
Tue, Jul 14, 2015, 4:13 pm // John LesowThe fight to keep Point Roberts from becoming a Radio Tower Farm is not over.
3 comments; last on Jul 22, 2015
Mon, Jul 13, 2015, 5:38 am // Dick ConoboyBellingham police are obviously trained to de-escalate armed confrontations. This is the way it should be.
6 comments; last on Jul 14, 2015
Thu, Jul 09, 2015, 8:27 am // John ServaisLois Garlick has died. For many decades, she and George served as environmental stewards and leaders in preserving wildlife and nature.
2 comments; last on Jul 10, 2015
Wed, Jul 08, 2015, 9:27 am // John ServaisLast minute political maneuvering by liberal council seeks to counter conservative review commission ballot proposals.
1 comments; last on Aug 12, 2015
Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 9:13 am // John ServaisThe Charter Review Commission made Monday evening's meeting their last - and forwarded 8 charter amendments to the County Council
3 comments; last on Jul 08, 2015
Tue, Jul 07, 2015, 5:34 am // Dick ConoboyFor Rent: York neighborhood, new, 7 bedroom single-family home, near WWU. Only $44,000 a year. City planning not paying attention.
6 comments; last on Jul 09, 2015
Mon, Jul 06, 2015, 4:30 pm // John ServaisTwo dirty tricks by the uber-conservative minority on the Charter Review Commission aimed to put their agenda before the council.
3 comments; last on Jul 07, 2015
Thu, Jul 02, 2015, 2:55 pm // David CampTrees are dying for lack of water! Only citizen action can save them.
Thu, Jul 02, 2015, 7:47 am // Dick ConoboyIf your 4th of July holiday is much more quiet this year, you can thank Clay Bulter who passed away at the end of May.
Mon, Jun 29, 2015, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe Samish Neighborhood Plan has been the subject of three undesired rezones in the last year. The city ignores its own guidelines to the detriment of all.
Thu, Jun 25, 2015, 6:00 pm // John ServaisUpdated at 6 pm. Our county justice system has spent 6 years trying to teach Luba Pekisheva that she should not defend herself. Justice denied and miscarried.
8 comments; last on Jul 22, 2015
Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 5:00 pm // David CampA look at the proposal in historic financial context with projections and several questions for the proponents.
8 comments; last on Jul 10, 2015
Mon, Jun 01, 2015, 3:49 am // Dick ConoboyThree extraordinarily large (7-bedroom) single family home rentals are proposed by developers Dave and Jon Hansen on Iron St. in the York Neighborhood.
7 comments; last on Jun 10, 2015
Mon, May 25, 2015, 8:17 pm // John ServaisYoung Chiara spent 3 nights hanging from the anchor chain of Shell Oil's Arctic Challenger as a protest to arctic oil drilling.
Thu, May 21, 2015, 11:50 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein we ponder the fate of humanity
Mon, May 18, 2015, 11:17 pm // John ServaisJoy Gilfilen is challenging incumbent Jack Louws for County Executive.
4 comments; last on May 20, 2015
Fri, May 15, 2015, 6:10 pm // John ServaisRunning update of who is filing for office in Whatcom County. Posts during day Friday and final update Friday evening.
4 comments; last on May 17, 2015
Wed, May 13, 2015, 5:30 pm // John ServaisUpdated | Ski to Sea race does not need to race through sensitive Chuckanut Community Forest Park for special mountain bike leg. City did not renege.
10 comments; last on May 15, 2015
Sun, Apr 26, 2015, 2:05 pm // Guest writerTani Sutley writes a second article on the increasing number of vacation rentals - and the County Council bill to let them expand dramatically.
4 comments; last on May 02, 2015
Thu, Apr 09, 2015, 5:03 am // Dick ConoboyThe Puget Neighborhood is about to become a bit more crowded but less than originally planned. 600+ students to be housed south of Fred Meyer.
6 comments; last on Apr 12, 2015
Sat, Apr 04, 2015, 1:15 pm // John ServaisThe port's latest bone-headed deal calls for the good citizens of Whatcom County to consider the options...unless we're enjoying our Groundhog Day.
3 comments; last on Apr 07, 2015
Thu, Apr 02, 2015, 8:30 pm // Tip JohnsonThe difference between a threat and a promise
5 comments; last on Apr 03, 2015
Wed, Apr 01, 2015, 12:20 am // John ServaisPort of Bellingham today sold out our public waterfront to a foreign shell company formed 6 days ago. Sold it cheap and with a screwy arrangement.
32 comments; last on Apr 05, 2015
Sat, Mar 21, 2015, 11:16 am // Guest writerKamalla Kaur worked with David Mason on his biographical materials and offers this tribute to his illustrious life.
2 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015
Fri, Mar 13, 2015, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe Whatcom County Council has sent discussion on changing the meth ordinance back to the Public Works, Health and Safety Committee
Thu, Mar 12, 2015, 1:06 pm // John ServaisAdd your thoughts and remembrances. Robyn du Pre` was a stalwart and true environmental advocate for Bellingham and Whatcom County. She died this week.
9 comments; last on Mar 23, 2015
Thu, Feb 26, 2015, 10:39 am // Riley SweeneyRiley shares some insight into the national political parties
5 comments; last on Mar 09, 2015
Wed, Feb 25, 2015, 6:31 am // Dick ConoboyIn a hearing, possibly on 3 March, the Whatcom County Council will consider an ordinance changing the rules for contaminated meth use sites.
1 comments; last on Feb 27, 2015
Mon, Feb 09, 2015, 6:00 am // Dick ConoboyNot all rent-to-own propositions are an unwise method to buy a home but some are schemes to rip off the unsuspecting tenant.
Mon, Feb 02, 2015, 9:34 am // Guest writerNo ballot mailed to you. You must request a ballot for voting in the Whatcom Conservation District election. Deadline to apply is Feb 9. By Barbara Perry
Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 10:56 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein Bellingham's billion dollar boondoggle is revisited
5 comments; last on Aug 14, 2015
Tue, Jan 27, 2015, 9:55 am // Terry WechslerThe Lummi requested on Jan. 5, 2015, that the federal government, through the Army Corps of Engineers, honor Art. V of the Treaty of Point Elliott and deny…
1 comments; last on Feb 04, 2015
Sun, Jan 25, 2015, 12:32 pm // Guest writerAdventures of George Pickett in the Pacific Northwest Wilderness
5 comments; last on Jan 28, 2015
Sat, Jan 24, 2015, 3:15 pm // Terry WechslerThe fourth area refinery crude by rail infrastructure project to receive permits without benefit of environmental review is being appealed, and provides an opportunity to make precedent.
Fri, Jan 23, 2015, 12:13 am // John ServaisThe second annual award for Citizen Journalism will be to The Political Junkie himself who runs the Sweeney Politics blog, Riley Sweeney.
2 comments; last on Jan 24, 2015
Tue, Jan 20, 2015, 3:07 am // Guest writerGuest article by Sandra Alfers. Water and sewer connections drive unwanted annexation. Trickle Creek homeowners are muzzled by a "no protest zone."
1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2015
Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 10:14 pm // Guest writerEllen Murphy gives us a poem for this Martin Luther King day of remembrance.
2 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015
Sun, Jan 18, 2015, 9:15 pm // Tip JohnsonWherein the ridiculous is ridiculed
5 comments; last on Jan 21, 2015
Thu, Jan 08, 2015, 2:54 pm // Guest writerTani Sutley guest writes about the vacation rentals situation and presents goals for the county council to consider for improving our rural neighborhoods.
1 comments; last on Jan 10, 2015
Wed, Dec 31, 2014, 1:16 am // Guest writerDuuhhh! Try doing without it. Marian Beddill provides an overview of our rural Whatcom County water situation and the efforts to find fair solutions.
3 comments; last on Jan 08, 2015
Wed, Dec 24, 2014, 1:23 pm // Riley SweeneyThe Herald gave us their top 10 stories, Riley gives you his top 5
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 5:04 pm // John ServaisOne part of the environmental study for the proposed Cherry Point mega coal terminal has been completed and released. It deals with ship collisions - they call it…
2 comments; last on Dec 22, 2014
Thu, Dec 18, 2014, 12:26 pm // John ServaisBellingham Public Works shows how tone deaf they can be to business concerns. They insisted on street work that takes away up to 80 parking spaces in Fairhaven…
Tue, Dec 16, 2014, 3:51 pm // Dick Conoboy7-0! City Council Unanimous. Rentals Will Be Inspected in Bellingham. Thanks go to WWU students for speaking out to city council.
5 comments; last on May 02, 2015
Thu, Dec 11, 2014, 5:05 am // Dick ConoboyThe Bellingham City Council has added an inspection component to the registration-only rental ordinance proposal of Councilmember Murphy
4 comments; last on Dec 16, 2014
Wed, Dec 10, 2014, 6:37 am // Dick ConoboyThe ban on consumer fireworks that took effect last summer is valid all year, even New Year's Eve
1 comments; last on Dec 11, 2014
Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 1:31 pm // John ServaisThe Horizon Lines ship - the many year resident of the Port of Bellingham - broke loose this morning due to failure of some system. A few photos.
3 comments; last on Dec 10, 2014
Tue, Dec 09, 2014, 2:25 am // Guest writerTani Sutley writes of how unregulated vacation rentals are invading the Lake Whatcom watershed. She urges action before the Planning Commission meeting on 11 December.
4 comments; last on Jan 03, 2015
Wed, Dec 03, 2014, 2:20 pm // Richard LewisPoet Richard Lewis reflects on Elizabeth Warren
3 comments; last on Dec 07, 2014
New LinksBellingham Wins
Election InfoElection Results
WA State Elections
Whatcom County Elections
Coal, Oil & TrainsCoal Stop
Community Wise Bham
Powder River Basin R. C.
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Business Journal
Bham Politics & Econ
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesChuckanut C. Forest
City Club of Bellingham
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary
WA Conservation Voters
Whatcom Peace & Justice
Governments- Whatcom County
Port of Bellingham
US Supreme Court
US The White House
WA State Elections
NWCitizen 1995-2007Early Northwest Citizen
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Nat Hurricane Center
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That?
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good Web SitesAl-Jazeera online
Change The Mascot
Foreign Policy in Focus
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Stand for the Troops
Talking Points Memo
The Crisis Papers
War and Piece
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Register
Bhm Herald Politics Blog
Citizens of Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
Intrnational Herald Tribune
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph