Details needed on new structure for PDA | Letter to the editor

Posted 12/29/20

Fort Worden is a defining feature of our community here in Port Townsend, and our citizens need a better explanation of the proposed reorganization plan. The Fort Worden Public Development Authority …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Details needed on new structure for PDA | Letter to the editor

Posted

Fort Worden is a defining feature of our community here in Port Townsend, and our citizens need a better explanation of the proposed reorganization plan. The Fort Worden Public Development Authority should offer the public an opportunity for meaningful involvement.

“Mistakes were made,” admitted the PDA Board Treasurer, and a fix is surely needed. But why restructure the public PDA as a nonprofit corporation?

The rush to complete this by the end of the year is a mistake. The impact of COVID on Fort hospitality operations may seem like the problem is sudden and urgent, but the real issue is a lack of board oversight and accurate public reporting.

The structure of the PDA isn’t what makes future fundraising difficult. The Fort Worden Foundation is already set up to accept charitable contributions from donors wanting an income tax deduction.

The proposed new structure, with fewer requirements for public notice and information sharing, isn’t the answer. We need more public scrutiny, not less. We just need the right people and a renewed commitment to the mission of the PDA.

Mark Blatter
PORT TOWNSEND

Comments

4 comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Joan Best

Amen

Tuesday, December 29, 2020
forestgems19

The takeover by the FWPDA started with the State Attorney General. The record is clear. The same institutions that caused the problems are not the best to self assess. Someone who was on the Fort Worden Advisory Council (pre FWPDA) became a Parks Commissioner who had influence regarding the final results. The end result was pre determined and other options were not allowed to be explored. Time for that exploration now that we see the fruits of what was allowed, and not stopped by State Audits.

The revolving door with 20 year City Manager Timmons now at the helm of the FWPDA doing damage control caused by past city employee Robeson, fired for ethics violations before becoming FWPDA director. who Timmons has known for years, is inappropriate.

There is still no information regarding who gave the FWPDA $200,000 recently. This is not the promised more open FWPDA. Remember that the FWPDA and the Leader owner at the time wanted full title to the Fort. Public input prevented that. The link below from 2012 shows how that happened. The comments I replaced recently were deleted. Why?

https://www.ptleader.com/stories/fort-worden-forum-draws-a-crowd-full-of-questions,49740

This link from 2012 with the FWPDA being the only option, with comments also deleted and replaced by me shows public concerns with staffing and no real plan. Why would anyone remove these comments? They are all as relevant today.

https://www.ptleader.com/stories/frustration-at-fort-worden-forum-where-are-the-details,49449

Malfeasance. As of right now the public is in the dark regarding where responsibility will be officially designated. The Leader has little information on this process, as it unfolds behind closed curtains.

The Fat Smittys dollar bill caper has no less than 4 stories. Which has greater impact for all?

No matter that finding, the entire FWPDA board failed to set up a system of checks and balances to protect funds from being misappropriated. They also approved the destined for failure “glamping” project. And more.

Timmons is being credited for working miracles with Kitsap Bank. Kitsap also failed to have checks and balances before releasing funds. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Of course Kitsap Bank is going to work with anyone they have handed to them, to fix their mistake. A new deal is the only option other than bankruptcy. The FWPDA and Kitsap Bank are both guilty of extreme carelessness. Chips fall where they may.

We are now in the situation where the FWPDA board is using 20 year PT City Manager Timmons as Executive Director. He is so ingrained in City methods and devised them. So many know his methods as smoke and mirrors, leading to 17 million in City Debt, failing roads, privatized Cherry Street and its champion Appointed Mayor Sandoval. Sandoval signed the FWPDA into existence. Timmons was right there as City Manager. Timmons broke a direct representation to me regarding fixing parking problems after he helped deconstruct the volunteer parking enforcement team. Timmons does not enjoy a good reputation regarding public input and management skills. IS HE THE BEST FOR THIS JOB OR THE BEST FOR THE CITY?

Many see a bad outcome just down the road after the FWPDA has made sure it remains in control. Timmons has his play book. Control. He is using it here. Privatization. It was the goal from the beginning if you look at the record. The public said no. God no. Timmons wants to “Cherry Street” the poor foster child that the Campus at Fort Worden has become, because the FWPDA blew it and can’t admit it. Raw ego at work. How convenient that privatization is Timmons (representing all power players) solution. Who represents the People of the State of Washington that owns Fort Worden. The FWPDA would own all of Fort Worden if no one had spoken up in 2012. They have a 50 year lease on the Campus only. The people spoke. They need to again.

While the board is under investigation with audits with criminal aspects it seeks to cement itself further by continuing to implement plans and debt that anyone taking over from them will be saddled with. How God Damn Dare They. How God Damn Dare the State of Washington let them. The State that was the true architect of the hand over to the FWPDA on a hurried time line 7 or so years ago?

Look. Another hurried time line. Is jail time in the future of any of these architects? Yet they want to build on the very bad foundation.

The promise of being more transparent seems to be off on the wrong foot. Who put up the $200,000 mentioned twice to keep the FWPDA afloat for the very short term?

Years ago at my business I casually asked a woman making a purchase where she was from and what she did for a living. Those questions have provided me with a sense of so much over the years. This was around 2012 when I was very vocal trying to keep the FWPDA from gaining title, then having a more widely based inclusive board and plan (that failed). This woman leaned in close and kind of mockingly said, “I am in development in a way. Some of the things we do take 10 years or more to accomplish.”

Privatization. Exclusive not inclusive majority of tenants (“partners”) = Special interests.

There is talk about the homeless. Those who are victims and those who chose the lifestyle. Some say you can enable the wrong people by catering to them. Some are hooked on bad substances. Lets think about the FWPDA in the same terms. They chose their methods. They are hooked on them, bad substance.

Their methods keep the public at a distance so they can administrate what should have a soul. Soul comes from hands on efforts by the true owners and those they chose to benefit. I once again submit that Veterans, especially those with PTSD and First Responders from medical to police deserve a place to call theirs, and all of ours. We trust them. They earned it.

Give them this monument to bring back to its great potential. I will help. Just eliminate all the pimps and double dealers keeping “us” away from the soul.

Years ago regarding the Pike Place PDA I said “The Pike Place Market doesn’t need a Soul, it has the PDA PR department”. True then and there. True here and now. Don’t believe the PR.

Stop the momentum. Stop the machine that mindlessly absorbs all it can for reasons it probably doesn’t even understand.

Time out. Re Set. Get rid of the overpaid and underqualified. They are leeches and parasites. Those who built Fort Worden deserve far more respect. Get this foster child a caring family. Vets and PTSD First Responders. They make us proud. The FWPDA and so many involved do not.

I know first hand of the money available in private hands near and far, I know proud people of rank can get this done along with the enlisted. I know the pride we have in our military vets and First Responders. I know some in town and further away know how to get grants for good causes like Vets and First Responders. Makers Place as a place to heal is ideal. Some would find a calling in art, craft, or other aspects that can be shared. The public can participate and purchase some items some would learn to make. There could be a proud Brand created. Something real.

For others Fort Worden could be just a place to get away for a brief while and heal a bit. Perhaps they could help rebuild. Who keeps this fertile idea and fertile ground from becoming one?

Special interests. The hurried time line is part of the play book.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020
Larry Kallenberger

I have read that the Port Townsend city council knows more than we do and has for awhile now. They have an obligation to share what they know. They created this PUBLIC entity but like to keep their hands clean by professing the same mock outrage as the Authority treasurer and leadership. If groups didn’t know you should have. When you have the word PUBLIC in you name you don’t get to shade or hide the truth. Instead your allegiance has been to what you call stakeholders.

Given all your experience in tourism you couldn’t see the Fort as anything else. Rob Birman’s suggestion that maybe we have enough tourist beds in town already at private hotels and motels. You accepted $150,000 from the County, on the cities recommendation, to refurbish a building to create 15 beds for seasonal employees who can’t work there in the summer because they can’t afford market rate. Nobody has answered the fundamental question which is why aren’t existing local residents fill those jobs and wouldn’t the county have been doing more good by spending that money on public infrastructure to house our residents who lack housing. It seems like summer workers from outside the county is your priority despite your assertion you are doing this for the community. Which community?

Oh that’s right we don’t know because you don’t like to discuss these things publicly. A public appointee or elected official should be serving the general public and not a clique of economic interests. The silly notion of creating a four employee holding company to contract with a private non profit will merely add a quarter million dollars to your costs. I guess the idea is that you need to rearrange the deck chairs hoping nobody would notice and imprudent lenders will shovel bad money after good money. Desperation and panic are no way to wisely move forward. Give us a break and take a break. Your stakeholders will survive.

You could survive on market rent paid by the organizations who you have located there and their presence is your remaining important responsibility. Instead you spend millions on a pie in the sky vision totally dependent on more and more tourists when the future is going to have less and less of them. Habits and pursuits are changing and a post pandemic economy will will need to observe and respond to those changes. Fort Worden State Park will be there for a long time so quit frightening people by implying that if you fail Fort Worden will fail.

The state is needed to complete an audit you didn’t do and now we need them to save us from our own creation. The only failure was your clumsy and irresponsible way of serving the public by withholding information from the public and your inept attempt using public money to play with your tourism toys on behalf I guess of what you call your stakeholders. You hold the reins and the responsibility and instead you let others pull your chain on their behalf.you operate like dark money is OK.

Who donated $200,000 to you if it happened and are there any terms. You are not legally, ethically or financially allowed to keep secrets any longer. Continuing the charade could result in more serious consequences than public dismay and distrust. You have public responsibilities and you need to recognize that though I think if we are patient the state is likely to impose that on you whether your stakeholders like it or not. The problem is that in the meantime you want to ramp up quickly and risk losing even more public money and credibility. We need to make sure the State Parks board and the Governor are fully aware of the likely community reaction if they try to make a sweetheart deal with a public resource and asset.

Thursday, January 7
HarveyW-Colatteral Damage

This public space available for anyone on the FWPDA board who wants to reveal who put up the mystery $200k.

Thanks Larry for your thoughts. Because of your impressive background in grant writing and military service it seems your carefully considered input should be respected by the FWPDA. The FWPDA cannot consider input that reveals its special interest focus. State Parks, no matter how sub let, should serve all of the people. They are the true owners.

I have had several visitors this week regarding the FWPDA situation, and other positive input from those reading Leader and Free Press articles and comments. None seem to want to publicly go on record. One fears reprisal from the City with permits in process. One person also lamented that we are not thanked for preventing full title of Fort Worden from going to the FWPDA in 2012. If you want thanks and credit you are in the wrong game. One can only imagine the wreckage if the FWPDA had full title. The removal of dozens of Leader comments from 2012 shows someone needed to clean up the trail of the FWPDA and public concerns that proved to be prophetic.

The FWPDA is not Fort Worden, or a positive steward. The FWPDA is the City of Port Townsend and all the dysfunction that goes with that. Thinly veiled. The record is crystal clear. Kick at the darkness until it bleeds daylight. Time for a new beginning without the old baggage.

Thursday, January 7