We were all elated this weekend to see the legislature second special session come to a close with the massive $10 Billion Transportation package Gov. Inslee wanted killed, ending over a decade of confrontations locally over the Columbia River Crossing light rail project.
While we were elated, some elected officials that fought so hard to bamboozle voters and force us into accepting the project against our will are very upset. One in particular, Jim ‘sue your constituents to invalidate their votes’ Moeller (D. Portland/Vancouver) is mad as wet hen, throwing hissy fits worse than any spoiled child I have ever seen.
Moeller has been throwing the fingers of blame everywhere this weekend, except of course where it belongs, right back at him since he did everything short of hiring hit men to take our major opponents of the project in trying to sell a bad project to benefit the city south of us in another state.
He lied, misrepresented, tried to bully, ridiculed, mocked, distorted claims and completely ignored any voice of reason in opposition and that alone was enough to cause many to push back even harder.
While he claims to be a staunch proponent of the “democratic process,” it was that very process that did the project in with the formation of the Senate Coalition Majority in Olympia that finally saw a slim majority actually listen and act on behalf of taxpayers, not try to dictate to us.
So the project was announced dead Saturday evening with both Governors of Oregon and Washington State making the end of the CRC official on Sunday after a mutual agreement to close down the CRC office.
Bear in mind, with the announced closure of the office, the transportation budget Gov. Inslee previously signed had $200,000 earmarked in it for a specialized audit to see whether the project had misused public funds, since we see they have sucked up over $170 Million and have some $20 Million unaccounted for.
As far as I am concerned, it should be a criminal investigation followed by swift prosecution if wrongdoing is found and prison time if warranted.
It distresses me to now see announced, CRC begins close-out of Vancouver project office with comments of, “The close-out will happen by the end of the year, said CRC spokeswoman Mandy Putney,” and “Putney said the project office looked ‘just like any normal day at the office’ on Monday as staff held meetings and discussed archiving information, coordinating the close-out and eventually moving out.” (emphasis added)
Knowing there is a potential fraud audit to be held, I am very uncomfortable that very people to be audited “discussing archiving information” and potentially destroying certain papers as well, maybe?
And, upwards of 6 months to close down this office? What could possibly take six months to shut down a now defunct project office with a pending audit?
I’m very uncomfortable with this, considering the level of secrecy and hiding of facts as well as foot dragging complying with Freedom of Information Act requests that resulted in a massive document dump to make the disclosure as confusing as possible and that resulted in the hiring of a Forensic Auditor to wade through it all over a two year span.
And now, we are to let these same people decide what to archive and what to do with whatever remains down at the office over what could be a six month time frame?
If ever there was a letting the fox guard the henhouse moment this is one.
While it is regretful that upwards of 96 people will be losing jobs, I am sure their talents will be out to good use elsewhere and if as competent as we have been led to believe, their period of unemployment won’t be very long.
After all, it is my understanding it wasn’t to be a lifetime career designing and building this massive rip-off, or was it?
I would hope either the Sheriff’s Dept or Washington State Patrol would be sent in to lock up and seal the offices as is before CRC personnel archive any piece of paper, pending the forensic audit written into the transportation bill Governor Inslee signed earlier this year.
They are who should be doing any archiving, after careful scrutinizing of documents and investigating for fraud and misuse of public money.
If none is found, so be it, release the results and store all documents related to the project where they are normally stored.
But such an audit must also allow auditors the widest leeway possible to ensure the public trust is properly guarded.
Any unspent monies being held by the CRC should be used for the audit, to pay the remainder of office rent during the audit if need be an all fixtures such as desks, computers file cabinets and such either stored for future public use or auctioned off to the highest bidder with those funds also returned to the public treasury.
But, allowing up to six months to archive documents by the very ones subject to this audit should be out of the question.
The public’s trust has been violated by this effort to force us into accepting what we rejected 4 times by vote.
Entrusting that same entity to now police themselves in closing down over such a lengthy period does nothing to restore that trust.