Updated with the text Ozias did not want the public to hear. See end of this article.
Commissioner Mark Ozias has his “big boy” pants on now. As chair of the county commission he can shut down public comments he doesn’t want to hear. For the first time public comment was shut down yesterday. The video is on the county website.
In four years of watching the Clallam County Commission at “work” I have never seen them invoke a time limit on taxpayers who come before the commission to provide feedback or provide comment to the commissioners. After all, it is the taxpayers who pay the freight eh?
Yesterday, during the re-do of the bungled hearing on the million dollar give-away to the Peninsula Housing Authority, which they first attempted to label as going to “construction of a Boys and Girls Club” Commissioner Mark Ozias invoked the three minute rule.
The hearing on the bogus boys and girls club grant was the second hearing on this subject. You may remember the first hearing on this $900,000 grant was so well disguised as going to “construction of a boys and girls club” that they had to hold a new hearing because the official notice that went out to the newspaper for the first hearing was a bold faced lie.
Yesterday the first hearing on the agenda was on a new ordinance for governing the Bed and Breakfast. B&B Industry speakers went on and on and never did Ozias call time on them. Almost all went over the newly imposed 3 minute limit. Never did Ozias give them updates on how much time left and so forth. The hearing proceeded smoothly–for two hours.
I appeared at the second hearing of the day, the re-do on the $900,000 Op-Fund Grant, pleading for transparency in government and asked them to get to he bottom of how sixteen official documents coming out of the county commissioners office, over the past four months, could contain bold faced lies and none of them catch it over the past four months. I mean this is a million dollars of taxpayer money and they are lying about its intended use. Then lying about lying about it.
Anyway, I am explaining to commissioners they need to look more closely at the paperwork they sign to be sure it is factual. After all they should know that Opportunity Fund money cannot be provided for a non-profit such as the Boys and Girls Club. Commissioner Randy Johnson should certainly know this since he has, for years, been head of the EDC which manages the Opportunity Fund. Everyone at EDC has been chosen and appointed under his leadership. If anyone should have known it illegal to give Op-Fund money to non-profits it should have been Randy Johnson. When shown the 16 lies sent out on county forms Johnson said, “clerical error.” Ozias said, “typo.”
No matter, the EDC puts out a recommendation to fake-fund the “boys and girls club” they hold the first hearing and it sails through.
When commissioners were advised they had given incorrect legal notice they groused about it in the daily paper and scheduled a re-do. This is what brought me before the commission yesterday.
Anyway, the point of this rant is to point out–as I was chiding the commissioners on their in-attention to the peoples’ business Ozias, for the first time that day, for the first time in at least four years, the chair, Ozias interrupted a speaker, me, to inform me “you have one minute left.” Perhaps this is the new normal. Shut down speakers when you disapprove of their message.
(Lest you think anyone was being unruly watch this exchange on the county’s website)
For those of you out Sequim way who thought you were electing a counter-balance to the McEntire era I am sad to report, I cannot see a bit of daylight between McEntire and Ozias. Both were hell-bent to give away millions of taxpayer dollars on questionable projects which do not raise the bar on income or provide permanent job creation for the community. Both were hell-bent on harassing the county treasurer. Within weeks of Ozias election he voted to have county prosecutor, Mark Nichols sue the county treasurer on a trumped-up public records case. Long time readers should know, if anyone paved the way for Ozias’ election it was Selinda Barkhuis, the county treasurer.
Gratitude has a short shelf-life.
In the four years McEntire was commissioner I never heard him call down a taxpayer attempting to provide feedback to the commission. McEntire never voted to sue the county treasurer. Ozias found it necessary his first month in office. Ozias has lowered the bar on local government accountability.
P. S. I have been attempting to figure out why the Boys and Girls Club did not protest the use of their name in this scheme. The answer was there yesterday at the same meeting. Norma Turner, board member of the Boys and Girls Club was appointed to the board of the Peninsula Housing Authority. Maybe that is the reason nobody squeaked when the lies poured forth. Bear in mind the big plans of the Peninsula Housing Authority includes private investors whom they refuse to identify. Did any of you get an invitation to invest in government backed rental property? Neither did I.
Norma Turner is the acknowledged “grand dame” of the Clallam County Democratic party. How can she ride herd on the Republican county commission, as is expected of the opposition party, if she is standing before them with her hand out for a million dollar grant from these same people? When the opposition party has its hand out to the ruling party little democracy can come out of it.
UPDATE: The following is the text I attempted to present to the County Commissioners before being shut down by Commissioner Ozias.
It would seem the Opportunity Fund Advisory Committee would question why the gratuitous term “Boys and Girls Club” was on a grant application for money intended to crush 33 perfectly good homes. Why they sent it forward with this misleading appendage is questionable.
All of you, except Commissioner Ozias, knew that non profits are ineligible for op fund grants.
If you read the official papers that cross your desk you should have asked the burning question, “Why is the boys and girls club stuff emblazoned on this application for a grant to the Peninsula Housing Authority?”
Instead the thread continued until it morphed into “construction of a boys and girls club. And that is the way it was presented to the public in the run-up to the previous hearing. That is how it was published in the “Official Notice” sent to the daily paper.
Someone making big bucks made the decision that the most creative way to handle the homeless crisis in Clallam County is to crush thirty three good homes. Then build back a housing project stacking people on top of people.
Whomever decided that the best way to tackle the affordable housing problem in town is to crush 33 homes should be able to come to the podium and defend the decision and request a million dollars on the strength of their decision making. That didn’t happen. Who allowed this public relations puffery of a boys and girls club into the decision making stream of consciousness in the community?
There is where the fraud exists.
Did the Boys and Girls Clubs allow their names to be used. Are there members of the board who serve on both the housing authority and the board Boys and Girls Club board. (Yes, Norma Turner) Is this a conflict. Is it a conflict for Commissioner Randy Johnson to vote on this since the EDC as it now exists is his own creation.
There seems to be a silent partner in this deal, one the housing people will not divulge. Someone is going to profit from the project we are discussing. Who are the private investors? We need to know who we are getting in bed with. What are the terms? Maybe there are lots more who would like to get in on this investment. Where are the RFP’s for inclusion in this august body of those able to invest into government backed rental property–charging market rent and guaranteed by the government?
The building of a three to five million dollar community center on the grounds of a profit making housing project is a a pretty good asset. Are both organizations profiting from this arrangement? Are there some of the same people on both these boards of directors. (Yes, see above) Have they recused when asked to vote on competing interests? Are both boards capitalizing on taxpayer dollars?
Did I mention that you have already over committed the Opportunity Fund what with the Carlsborg sewer, the promise to build some sewer project in each of your districts, with the pay-off of the business incubator project and all the other promises you have backed with the op fund you are for sure over extended.
There is no guarantee the Op Fund legislation will survive the legislature from one year to the next. If all the promises we make backed up by the Op Fund come to naught it will fall upon the backs of property owners to clean up the mess–as we are doing with that business incubator project that was highly touted by Johnson”s Economic Development Council.
There has been a strategy employed to conflate the award of this money going to crush homes into the construction of a boys and girls club. This is not transparent and it has been supported throughout the process which begs the question of a conflict of interest throughout…
The Op-Fund grant request lists the Boys and Girls Club in a letter from Alan Barnard, Chairman of the Op-Fund Advisory Committee then shows up in a letter from county deputy prosecutor David Alveraz and on to commissioners and on to agenda and on to budget resolution and on and on into more and more official documents until it morphed into a million dollars “for construction of a Boys and Girls Club” as announced in the daily paper. This is dishonest slight of hand even if it is legal. This was pointed out to you at the first hearing and all of you allowed it to sail right on through–as you will again today.
The taxpayers deserve greater transparency. We need to believe we can trust the paperwork coming out of the courthouse. This series of events prove we have to be very wary.