Contract Dough, Condolences on Commission Plates

Recipe Kitchen Dough Italian Cook Flour

Contracts and how to fund them have been big on county commissioner plates lately. In the last couple weeks Grays Harbor County Commissioners have approved amendments/modifications related to medical/behavioral health contracts per the county jail. Amendments to a contract with Greater Grays Harbor Inc. are also on the menu.

At this afternoon’s regular business meeting, the commissioners approved an amended contract for County Jail Physician’s Services Behavioral Health. The amended contract includes an increase of nearly $54,000 through the end of the year.

The commissioners unanimously approved the increase for January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. The increase is from $170,916 to $224,910. That figure corrects a prior calculation that was incorrect.

Also approved this afternoon was a $30,955 tran$fer from public safety sales tax $ to pay expenses associated with the jail for security.

Commissioners Vickie Raines and Randy Ross approved modifications to a professional services contract for jail medical services last Monday. The modified contract with Dr. Yong Ki Shin was approved unanimously by Ross and Raines. Commissioner Wes Cormier was out of town on county business.

The mods to the professional services contract with Shin represent an additional $350K/year over what the county is now paying. The mods are required to meet updated state and federal standards for said jail medical services. That contract includes medical staffing for two-thirds of the day. For additional background, see: Updated Jail Medical Services Contract Pinches County Pockets.

Questions about funding for these increases – how and from where – remain. “We need to have a workshop on it so we can all get our heads around it,” observed Raines.

Commissioner Raines also said she’s received significant feedback from health professionals on the professional services contract going out to bid. Look for a revisit in the fall.

$peaking of dough, the commissioners decided to shift an agenda item to rescind an Economic Development Funding Agreement with Greater Grays Harbor and authorize a new contract to June 5. This will allow for review and input from the GGHI Chair. (County offices will be closed next Monday to observe Memorial Day.)

The original funding agreement was approved on April 3. It spilled over into an April 18 workshop and discussions with Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson and GGHI CEO Dru Garson. 

At issue was Commissioner Wes Cormier’s proposal for specific performance benchmarks or ‘deliverables‘ GGHI is expected to meet in relation to receiving a record $88K in county support. Here are the “deliverables/reporting requirements” from a draft of the contract:

Cormier’s proposed addendum prompted Larson to pen a prickly letter to the editor in April calling the commissioner’s motives into question. 

For background, see: Commissioners Dig Into Deliverables, Ballot Boxes & Bucks. and  ‘Cold Calls’ a Sticking Point in County Agreement With GGHI.

One other thing. Commissioner Ross suggested inviting legislators from the 19th and 24th LDs for a workshop discussion on additional unfunded state mandates that may be coming down the puke. I mean… pike

Also, if you’re among the head-banging music at nose bleed volume contingent, an updated noise ordinance is also on the table. It will allow the sheriff’s office to issue citations for excessive noise in residential areas. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

During this afternoon’s public comment period, Commissioner Raines said Keith Olson passed away on May 18. Noting that Olson was a former rival for her commission seat, Raines said “We quickly became very good friends.” She said Olson “leaves quite a legacy of community service.” Also that Olson “fought for the little guy and stood up for property rights. I will miss him,” she said. The Board expressed its condolences to the Olson family.

One other, other thing. The courthouse flag is now “skimpishly” lit. And sunny, warm days like today have been as scarce as a slim sow around here lately. So I really, really hope you’re reading this pool side. Or in a chaise lounge somewhere in the Great Outdoors. In shorts. Maybe with an umbrella drink. And SPF 50. With a wide-brimmed hat. I am. 😉


Imagine you’re a little kid. You have to testify in court.

 Are you scared spitless? Anxiety level skimming triple digits? Are you stomach churning, palms sweating, ready-to-hurl stressed out?

Now imagine you’ve got a friend. A friend who wrote the book on loyalty and love. Unconditional support. Companionship. 

A friend with warm amber eyes. Floppy ears. A fur coat the color of toasted marshmallows.

That friend would be Louie. A specially trained two year old yellow Lab, Louie is a newly arrived “comfort dog” working with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Grays Harbor. 

Louie and the Center’s Executive Director Sue Bucy were making the rounds at county today, where he was introduced to judges and county commissioners.  (I’m not going to say Louie was the highlight of the afternoon. Oh, bother. OF COURSE he was!)

Isn’t he a beauty?

Louie’s job is to provide “comfort and support” to children with the Center. That includes working with abused children, accompanying  kids to court, and sitting in on their forensic appointments.

Louie was trained at Canine Companions in Santa Rosa, California, said Bucy. He also went to Chicago for additional training. He then returned to Santa Rosa for six months of “in-depth training.” 

Louie knows about 40 commands. He’s valued at about $50K according to Bucy. He comes at no cost to the county explained County Prosecutor Katie Svoboda. Local vets are also donating veterinary care.

Louie meets County Commissioners.

Louie’s a dead ringer for ‘my best girl,’ Eve. She passed away in 2013.

Is this place great, or what?

Cartwheels at County

Unless you’re dying to hear about a proposed update/modification on the jail medical contract and whether or not the current service is adequate per state/fed standards, or negotiation$ related to the Union Gospel Mission, there wasn’t a whole lot to turn cartwheels over at today’s morning meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.

Okay. Since you asked, an updated contract with local physician Dr. Yong Ki Shin to provide medical services for the jail was under discussion this morning. Sheriff Rick Scott, Police Chief Davis and Dr. Shin fielded questions. 

Main concerns voiced by both the commissioners and law enforcement focused on risk pool, liability, and indemnification. Deputy Prosecutor Norma Tillotson provided input on the above. A major component of the contract modification is a proposed increase in medical malpractice from $1M to $3M.

Regarding the contract mods, Commissioner Randy Ross said the commission is “not in any hurry. Let’s do it right.”

Commissioner Wes Cormier indicated he may abstain from any vote on the mods because Dr. Shin’s wife is his doctor.

Commissioner Vickie Raines expressed concern that the mods haven’t yet been reviewed by the Health and Human Services Advisory Board. She asked Scott how he’s budgeting for the mods. Scott responded that it’s “up to the Board as to which budget stream they want to tap into” to cover the proposed increase in liability/malpractice coverage. The cost is expected to be nominal. 

Regarding the modified contract, Scott said, “I’m good with it if Dr. Shin is.”

Dr. Shin chimed in with a couple cost savings options. Like “telemedicine” from midnight to 0800 instead of having a nurse physically on site during those hours. Also tapping into local nursing staff to be on call instead of an outside-the-county entity.

Look for Board action on the matter next Monday.

Spring in Monte!

Karolyn Holden, Director of Public Health, was on hand to request Board approval to negotiate “up to $250K” to enhance renovation and reconstruction at the Union Gospel Mission in Aberdeen. She noted that this work has been “ongoing” since 2013. Grants are paying for a “significant portion” of the renovation costs. But plumbing, foundation and structural issues came to light in February 2017 such that the county has been approached for help. 

Such help would be strictly limited to renovations/upgrades related to “non-proselytizing” portions of the facility. This includes upgrades to the male shelter and for shower and laundry facilities where “proselytizing” does not occur. In case you were wondering.

With that ironed out, the commishes approved Holden’s request to negotiate for the needed funds.(I’m not exactly sure what that means. If you figure it out, holler.)

Commissioner Randy Ross observed that this endeavor may preclude Aberdeen Mayor Erik Larson’s pursuit of an “urban rest stop” comfort station-type facility in the area.

(no extra charge): If Commissioner Raines ever suggests visiting the Corn Dog Castle at Disneyland, do it.

Other tip: Chief Davis’s weekend golf game was officially “terrible.”

Other, other tip: Legoland has “amazing” buffets. ☺ 

I am now going outside to work on my cartwheels. See ya!

County Rescinds Gateway Center Advisory Vote, Backs Away From Center Ownership

A public advisory vote on the proposed Gateway Center in Aberdeen is off the table, as is potential county ownership of the building.

Proposed by Commissioner Wes Cormier, the advisory  vote was approved by the commissioners last month. It was headed to the August ballot. The commissioners voted to rescind the measure at this afternoon’s meeting on a 2 to 1 vote. Commissioners Vickie Raines and Randy Ross voted Aye to rescind. Commissioner Cormier voted Nay. (More on that in a minute. Don’t go away.)

Commissioner Vickie Raines initiated this morning’s discussion on the resolution to rescind. Explaining that timing was an issue, Raines noted that she wanted to address the topic today rather than next week when Commissioner Cormier will be unavailable. 

Stressing her personal support for the Center, Raines said she applauds efforts by the City of Aberdeen and Mayor Larson to revive the project “following an extremely difficult and lengthy recession.” Her remarks were made via a written statement Raines read and provided this morning. She read the statement at the afternoon meeting, adding  “including potential ownership and operation” to the final paragraph. See below for the full text.

Raines outlined her reasons for moving to “rescind the Advisory Ballot regarding the Count’s (sic) direct involvement with the (Gateway Center) facility.” She backed away from county ownership or operation of the facility, saying in part:

“At this juncture, I believe  it is up to Enterprise Center supporters, including myself, to champion this project and see it cross the finish line. ..

I am not of the belief that the Grays Harbor County Government needs to intercept the forward momentum, but rather team up and individually support the Grays Harbor Enterprise Center…, if we choose.”

Cormier said the reason he brought forward the advisory vote was because he doesn’t want the county “to own or operate the Center.”

Raines replied that commissioners are elected to do a job that sometimes includes making hard decisions “This is one of those decisions” she said, adding that the county already has responsibility for other facilities. She reiterated that there  are “too many unanswered concerns and questions” surrounding the Center. “I think we need to look in our own backyard and take care of what we have” she said.

Raines also commented that previous commissions took the route of “no maintenance” on county facilities. “We need to step up and address that” she observed. She emphasized that while she still supports the project, she’d rather step away and let the City of Aberdeen move forward with it instead of  the county.

Commissioner Randy Ross likewise voiced his personal support for the project, but “has some concerns” similar to those expressed by Raines. He said the county lacks the funds to repair its current facilities, citing the fairgrounds as an example. Regarding the advisory vote, Ross said county government is a representative form of government, not a populist one.

Cormier responded that the commissioners had to vote to approve a loan to address fairground repair costs. He disagreed with Ross’s fairground comparison, saying the fairgrounds are a county concern but the Gateway Center has never been a county project. “We didn’t start the (Gateway) project and we didn’t weigh in until it came to us” he said.

“There’s no reason why we can’t go out to an advisory vote” Cormier reiterated. “If the City of Aberdeen is selling this as a countywide project, we should seriously consider letting this go to the people” as an advisory vote.

Raines asked Cormier why an advisory vote is still needed if “I just agreed with you” that the county shouldn’t own or operate the facility? 

Cormier replied that different involvements with many different municipalities and stakeholders necessitates broader feedback. “When you have multiple jurisdictions involved, why not get a vote of the peopke?” he asked.

All commissioners agreed that the county shouldn’t own or operate another facility until a capital facilities plan is in place.

Approved by the commissioners on March 27, here’s how the original resolution authorizing  the county auditor to place an advisory vote on the Center on the August ballot reads:

Here’s today’s resolution rescinding the above and directing the county auditor to remove the measure from the August ballot:

Some confusion/a misunderstanding regarding the resolution was cleared up during the afternoon media Q and A session. 

At that session, Raines said she didn’t think an advisory vote was needed because “I’ve agreed with Commissioner Cormier that the county shouldn’t own or operate the facility.” She said the city should pursue the project on its own, “Let the city do what they want to do.” She agreed with Cormier that the county shouldn’t be “in the landlord business” related to the Gateway Center. “I strongly  support the project” Raines clarified, but said she doesn’t see how the county can assume ownership of another building when other county-owned buildings need attention and funds. 

Harkening back to last summer’s county buy of the  Byles building, which Cormier opposed, Raines said she now agrees with Cormier opposition to that purchase. The purchase appeared to be a good deal at the time in light of requirements for a third courthouse, she said. But she now agrees with Cormier per fiscal concerns.

Cormier later said he would’ve joined fellow commissioners regarding the resolution to rescind the advisory vote, but he misunderstood the morning discussion. He apologized for any confusion.”I don’t get involved in city business” said Cormier. “I don’t want to step on their toes. I only commented on the Gateway Center when it came to our door.” 

Ross likewise said he’s not a strong supporter of county ownership of the building, but would support some county involvement if the county uses the facility.

Russ Burke Lawsuit Over

The Russ Burke lawsuit against the City of Montesano is over.

In a prepared statement released on April 21, former Montesano Mayor Ken Estes wrote:

To Montesano’s Citizens,

Last week I was pleased to receive confirmation from our counsel, Alex Casey, that the February 22 unanimous decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the Superior Court’s dismissal of the claims filed by Russell Burke and his spouse against the City of Montesano, Kristy Powell, the former City Administrator, Rocky Howard, the former Director of Public Works, and myself, then serving as Mayor, was final.  I can assure all of you that when I was elected Mayor of the City of Montesano,  I certainly had not anticipated having to work through the departmental issues which came to our attention nor to take the various administrative steps leading to discipline of some employees and, as to Mr. Burke, his dismissal.  However difficult it was to carry out the actions, it was our duty to the Citizens of Montesano to make certain that the City’s resources were properly utilized.

I would like to thank the City’s insurer Nicholson & Associates Insurance and Travelers Insurance Company, for their belief in us; Alex Casey, Ann Trivett, and Robert Christie, the legal counsel designated to handle this matter at the various levels; Scott Snyder, the City’s labor counsel, for providing such effective representation at all levels; and Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers and Sgt. Shane Krohn for their assistance.

I especially appreciate the support of Dan Glenn (then city attorney), Rocky and Kristy as we worked our way through the various investigations and actions.  Then, there has been the unwavering and so much appreciated support of my spouse without which this matter would have been even more difficult to work through.  Also, I would also like to thank those Citizens of Montesano who understood why it was necessary to take the steps leading to this litigation.

In closing, when I received the complaint filed by Mr. Burke’s counsel back in 2013, I was both shocked and saddened by the allegations.  The fact that after three and one-half years two courts have found that there was no legal or factual basis to support those claims which had received much news coverage and talk around town, reaffirms to me one basic point.  That point is that while doing the right thing is often not easy, things come out right in the end.  I can assure you that it has been a difficult period for Kristy, Rocky, myself and unfortunately, our respective spouses and families.  However, that “book” is now closed and may all move on with their lives.

For those who would like to read the Court of Appeal’s decision, I have left a copy at the Clerk’s Office at City Hall.”

Ken Estes.  Mayor 2012-2015

Reached in Utah for comment, Ms. Powell responded:

I’m glad that the city prevailed. Our responsibility was to secure and protect the assets of the City of Montesano and we did so. The results handed down by the courts support our actions.

The former Public Works Director, Russ Burke filed a lawsuit against the City of Montesano,, after he was terminated in 2013 by then-Mayor Ken Estes amid allegations of misuse of city equipment and supplies per a theft investigation regarding city paint. Burke claimed he was terminated due to “political retaliation.” He filed a $400,000 claim against the city.  (For background, see: Russ Burke Loses Appeal and THIS is What an Epic Fail Looks Like.)

A February 22, 2017 decision by the Washington State Court of Appeals rejected Burke’s claim. The decision affirmed  a 2015 Superior Court ruling granting the City of Montesano’s motion for summary judgment. The appellate court also said the City of Montesano “had a legitimate reason to terminate Burke for insubordination.”

In fact, not a single court affirmed Burke’s claim.

To the Bow Wow Brigade and its lock-step “media” lackeys who used the Burke dismissal to launch and drive a hate campaign against Ken Estes and Kristy Powell and made maligning and savaging both your favorite indoor sport: Want some ketchup with that crow?

Shame on you.

Lady Justice – Public Domain

‘Cold Calls’ a $ticking Point In County Agreement With GGHI

Image result for "frozen telephone"

Grays Harbor County Commissioners and representatives from Greater Grays Harbor, Inc. engaged in a lengthy and sometimes lively discussion at this morning’s commissioner workshop.

At issue was Commissioner Wes Cormier’s proposal for specific benchmarks or ‘deliverables‘ GGHI is expected to meet in relation to receiving a record $88K in county support. Whether or not the county can or should require additional deliverables – performance benchmarks – beyond what the state requires of GGHI was also at issue. (For background, see: Commissioners Dig Into Deliverables, Ballot Boxes & Bucks.)

The forty minute discussion, which was spirited at intervals, included Commissioners Wes Cormier, Vickie Raines, Randy Ross, and GGHI Executive Director Dru Garson and GGHI Chair Dave Ward, respectively. (If you ever want to see some really, really awesome pics of hiking Mount Saint Helens on a clear, sunny day in April, ask Dave.)

Much of the conversation related to Cormier’s proposal to include additional “deliverables” – including a specified number of “cold calls” – related to the funding agreement.

Continue reading “‘Cold Calls’ a $ticking Point In County Agreement With GGHI”

‘Punishment’ or Responsible Fiscal Management?

Let’s say you’re in ‘commission sales.’ If you sell something, you get paid. If you sell more, you get paid more.

A boss is willing to approve a raise if you’re willing to demonstrate a tangible commitment to boosting sales. Improving the company’s bottom line. So rather than writing you a blank check and skipping out the door, he lays out a series of specific expectations related to your raise, including periodic progress reports.

Call it a quid pro quo. You boost your performance. He boosts some of your bucks, which, incidentally, come from other people’s money that he’s responsible for managing wisely. It may sound like, “Where’s the return on our investment?”

Is that “punishment”? Or responsible fiscal management on behalf of the shareholders?