Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Rise above the confusion of conflicting rumors.

You indicated in an e-mail to the superintendent and Board that Mark Zandberg shared with you a rumor there is soil contamination at the new administration site. The rumor is false.

[Definitions of the words "rumor", "false" and "fraud".]

Allegations concerning hazardous materials are extremely serious, and I believe it is important to provide accurate information and ask you to share it with others who may have also been told of this rumor.

[Definitions of the words "contamination" and "hazardous".]

As a part of the purchase offer for the new administration site, the District conducted “due diligence” activities before closing the deal, including geotechnical and environmental assessments of the site. We hired Reid Middleton to conduct the geotechnical analysis, and AMEC to do the environmental assessment. Our attorneys reviewed previous environmental studies of the site, as well as Department of Ecology correspondence with the owner about adjacent property he owns (and continues to own).

[Like the detention pond that the District now maintains for him. And by the way, I was in the room when Reid Middleton, AMEC, Perkins Coie and Northwest Valuations recommended NOT buying this site and we all left the room with that understanding.]

Numerous test pits were dug on our site to sample the soil. One pit – test pit 15 – had material that was questioned, and both our consultant and the seller’s consultant reviewed the laboratory results of the analysis. The Seller agreed to remediate that test pit, and that work was observed and the results examined by our consultant, AMEC. To quote the senior scientist on the project for us: “Marla - I have no remaining concerns regarding TP-15.”

["... but I do have concerns about everywhere else." TP-15 is an incredibly small sample. How do you draw conclusions about an incredibly small sample (needle) and then compare it to the huge volume of soil (haystack)?]

[The school board favored the seller's appraiser over their own - why would they now favor the District's consultant over the seller's?]

As a precaution to protect the District, we negotiated in the purchase agreement that the Seller would pay for an insurance policy to pay to mitigate any soil contamination found on the site during construction. The District reviewed several options and selected an insurance company, who also reviewed the environmental reports before issuing coverage. The Seller paid for a two-year policy, and the District chose to pay to extend that policy for another three years to provide a 5-year window for construction to occur.

[Why buy insurance if the contamination is a rumor? How much was the seller's premium if no activity would be taking place during the initial term of coverage?]

The construction of the new building is dependent on revenues from the sale and ground lease of properties, and we wanted to be certain to have ample time to complete the necessary transactions.

[In other words, financing this poor choice is dependent upon the outcome of other bad choices.]

We have now demolished the old buildings and begun an “early site grading package”, to do the earthwork and other site preparation within the coverage period of the insurance policy and to prepare the site to be ready for building construction regardless of time of year. The contractor currently working on the site was provided with the geotechnical and environmental reports by our capital projects staff. The insurance company who issued the 5-year policy was notified that we are beginning earthmoving work. We hired AMEC to be on site to monitor the condition of soils during this phase of construction, and they are monitoring the earthwork being done now. Nothing has surfaced as of this date.

[Why hire environmental consultants if the contamination is a rumor? Who is footing that bill?]

If you have additional questions please let me know. I will be responding to your request for public records as soon as I complete several others that have been submitted ahead of yours.

[There are others seeking to expose a pattern of bad choices.]

Marla Miller
Assistant Superintendent

Fun Factoid: Calling something a rumor does not make it one.


Anonymous said...

I will be happy to point out (for the Department of Ecology) where that leaking oil tank on the Cedar Valley Elementary site is located. I wonder if samples were taken there...

Anonymous said...

RCW 42.56 The Public Documents Acts requires strict compliance by the School District to provide documents requested or state the reason to deny, along with the reasonable amount of time needed to fulfill the request. See Zink v. Mesa City August 23, 2007 Appeals Court III (the most recent decision)

Prompt response is required, 5 business days. Failure to comply with Act provides a mandatory fine of $5.00 to $100.00 per day per document. See Yousoufian v. Seattle

If Marla is sitting on your public documents request. She is violating the law.

Anonymous said...

Open Public Government

1. The goal should be to assure access, not to file and win a lawsuit. Talk with the people involved about the presumption of openness in Washington laws. Try to work things out short of litigation.
2. Talk with the attorney for the public agency to see if counsel thinks the law has been followed.
3. Document your efforts to get a record or attend a meeting where access is denied.
4. Seek the advice of an attorney not associated with the public agency involved. Often an attorney can briefly advise you at little or no charge.
5. If you file suit and are successful, the laws provide that you may recover reasonable attorney's fees and in some cases monetary penalties.

Anonymous said...

"Numerous test pits were dug on our site to sample the soil."

The test pits should have been dug on THEIR site. A very telling use of the language. Did they only start testing soil AFTER the property changed hands?

Anonymous said...

This whole thing is making me ill. Are people so easily manipulated by District leadership? I would bet my left arm that someone is getting a large kick-back here.

Anonymous said...

Based on what I have seen at Cedar Valley Elementary, you could check the level of contamination with a dipstick.

Anonymous said...

There is no confusion or conflicting rumor concerning your negligent waste of millions in district funds on a property purchase.

Anonymous said...

I understand this message from Marla was in the form of an email sent to a few of her departments. Is this supposed to represent a preemptive strike and an assurance that her word is the only truth? I think that she should be willing to be removed immediately and investigated if not only to provide evidence of her "honesty". Too much time may already have elapsed and some documents may already be in shreds.

Anonymous said...

Please, Marla, as a tax paying supporter of this District, please have legal review your letters before you send them out. You are digging more holes than you are filling in.

Anonymous said...

Day 7: Still waiting for the report...