A One Hundred Million Dollar Question: Open letter to city manager; Nathan West

Hi Nathan:With regard to your email of January 20th I am confused.  You speak of lots of information sent to me since 2013 by former city manager; Dan McKeen.  I have not been able to find such a trove as you speak of and, frankly, do not remember receiving a lot of information, coming out of the city, with regard to the estimated hundred million dollar harbor clean up. 

Since you have already researched it please bundle it and “resend” it to me so I can fully inform our new city council.
I could never get Dan to establish a figure for which the city taxpayers would be on the hook for their part of the one hundred million.  I could not get him to fully explain why the city did not fight, tooth and nail, when Ecology first attempted to saddle the taxpayers of the city with such an enormous financial obligation.

These current city council members were not on council when the city of Port Angeles was first named as one of the “Potentially Liable Parties, ” those who the Department of Ecology have listed as financially responsible for the clean up of the harbor.

I’m not sure they are aware of this looming financial hit the city residents’ tax bill is about to take.

In your message below you state COPA has been steadily looking out for the interests of the citizens of Port Angeles but you will not say how.  I have asked you twice now, “has the city filed any paperwork with Ecology or the courts, demanding the city be removed from this list of potentially liable polluters?  You have dodged that question handily.  It is information any taxpayer in the city should be able to get an answer to.  If you have a copy of any document where we have lifted one finger in defense of the city taxpayers; now owing this clean up fee, then please send it along because I do not think one exists.  If you have any paperwork where Bloor, or other attorneys representing the city, has asked Ecology to remove COPA from that list, please send it to me.  I do not think it exists.  I fear if these actions have not been taken then Mr. Bloor has pleaded the city taxpayers “guilty” of this pollution of the harbor and now we are awaiting “sentencing” by way of Ecology establishing the amount of the debt.  “Silence means consent,” as they always say.

(If COPA has another “strategy” for getting city taxpayers off the hook then please do not keep it a secret, tell it brother tell it.)

I realize you are the only employee supervised by the city council. I hope to build a case which will persuade a majority of the city council members to order you to order Bloor, or some outside attorney, to file paperwork sufficient to remove the taxpayers of Port Angeles from this debt or, give us a day in court whereby Ecology can prove why folks living in the city who have never even littered a city street may now be responsible for a one hundred million clean up.  It just don’t make sense.  What are we waiting for.  Once a decision is made at Ecology it then becomes a matter of them collecting a debt.  We have already pleaded “guilty” by never challenging COPA’s being listed in the first place.  So, please tell me, how has the city been looking out for its citizens since 2012.

I know you know the city’s legal staff is in place to protect the municipal corporation called the City of Port Angeles.  There is no one representing the city’s taxpayers except the city council members.  I do not believe they are fully informed as to the city’s very vulnerable position with respect to this already accepted debt.
I do not blame Ecology for placing COPA on their list of potentially liable parties.  Deep pockets and all.  However, the city council members must remember, those deep pockets do not create any income except that which is extracted from the taxpayers.
A recent survey stated there are approximately 11,000 city taxpayers who work a regular job.  The others are considered on a “fixed income.”  Where will they get the money to pony up?  I do not think these 11,000 hard working city-residents are keen on shouldering a multi million dollar debt which they had not part in creating.

Many, if not most, of the city staff and employees are not residents of the city and have no fear of a multi million dollar hit to their tax bills.  (Do you live in the city?)   This will only affect city taxpayers. The county was able to keep county taxpayers off the hook.  The port was, of course liable, by not properly supervising their tenants as they fouled the harbor.
Those who polluted the harbor should be held responsible for its clean up.  The share-holders in Rayonier, and Merrill-Ring, should fork over instead of the poor sap just trying to get by over on the boulevard.
Innocent bystanders should not have this sword of Damocles overhanging their properties.

Let’s play defense for a while.  What have we got to lose??

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