Tuesday, July 08, 2008

State Auditor stumped with simple change of name.

July 8, 2008

Brian Sonntag

Dear Mr. Sonntag,

Thank you for your recent response to a concerned member of our community. Your response was forwarded to me for an opinion. While I have already weighed in on the strength of your other responses, your response regarding space rentals and Mr. and Mrs. Noble is shocking. To think that the Washington State Auditor is prepared to hang his hat on such a feeble set of arguments is baffling.

Space Rental

Clearly you have lost your mind. The organization that you claim "disbanded prior to 2007" merely changed their name from "Powerful Partners" to "Powerful Tutors". They have the same staff, the same space in the administration building and continue to use the name "Powerful Partners" when they require name recognition - like when they endorsed the District's Tech Replacement Levy late last year. [Bottom right corner of page 2]

By your reasoning, it would be appropriate for criminals to legally change their name and have all prior criminal activity instantly vanish. If our county prosecutors used this approach to combating crime our prisons and jails would be empty. Who would have guessed that the bookkeeper that pilfered funds right under your nose for years could have just walked to the courthouse next door, paid $65 and avoided spending thirteen months in prison?

Additionally, you have been making recommendations to the District to refine their monitoring of facility rentals and leases for years. Your guidance is clearly landing on deaf ears, or perhaps no one takes your audits seriously. Based upon the strength of your findings, it is likely the latter.

Board Policy Violation

First, "It is the policy of the Edmonds School District that non member of the Board" should read "no member of the Board".

Second, your interpretation of the referenced RCW opens a larger issue that needs to be explained. Can a school district adopt board policies that are inconsistent with state law? Can a school district adopt policies that are more restrictive in an effort to remove any possibility of future conflicts of interest? Can a school district adopt policies that seek to create and maintain an elevated standard?

Your argument weakens the quality of elected school boards across the State of Washington, when clearly it was the intent of the voters in the Edmonds School District to remove any possibility of the corruption that may routinely occur elsewhere in the State.

Furthermore, Board Policy 1260 has nothing to do with Board Policy 6810. Board Policy 1260 pertains to contractual work performed for the District where a board member may be affiliated in a non-salaried capacity. Meaning, the board member cannot receive any financial benefit from any business transaction between an employer and the District - unless this relationship is specifically disclosed and recorded in board minutes. The policy essentially sought to exclude conflicts between board members (spouses and dependents included) and entities providing services to the District.

In case the Conflict of Interest provisions were not entirely clear in Board Policy 1260, earlier, more enlightened boards specifically called out a circumstance that would be a clear conflict. It is contained in Board Policy 6810 and reinforces the conflict described in Board Policy 1260. The inconsistency is not between Board Policy 1260 and Board Policy 6810 but rather between these board policies and the conduct of this board.

So, now the Edmonds School District will revise board policies to specifically allow clear conflicts of interest to exist. Would such a revision be in the best interest of the public?

Board minutes have also reflected the Board's intention to revise policies contained in the 1000 series, when in actuality; any revisions in that series would be meaningless without altering the intent of Board Policy 6810. Maybe this board intends to eternally postpone any action on Series 1000 until Gary and Kay Noble have milked every conceivable advantage in maintaining this conflict.
Discussion Topic 1 on Page 2 of the Board Agenda]

I look forward to your response to the many other concerns I have forwarded.


Mark Zandberg


Anonymous said...

The Feds won't take lightly to a State encroaching on their turf, ie. the green lawn of corruption.

Anonymous said...

Just another corrupt department in our government. Very simply,the smaller the business the easier to manage. This sort of enforcement is clearly beyond the ability of the State Auditors Office. They are not capable of doing anything, and the
'Why's" really are not important at this level. The fact is they can't perform this function,which is a vital part of their work. It is very agonizing however,to know that there are so many people willing to collect a paycheck for doing only what they determine to be convenient aspects of their work,and nothing more. I have said it before right here, I don't understand what is wrong with punching in, working hard and going home feeling good about your effort? The Mariners will be glad to take your tickets in another losing season next year. Just try focusing on good,hard,full work days for a school year. Human Resources could coordinate weekend Mariner dabockles for the diehard fan. And nothing wrong with the Aquasox if you need a baseball fix. But again, the bigger the business, the bigger the trouble. And the Edmonds School District is not an exception.

Anonymous said...

Love your letter to Brian Sonntag; WTG!! I can see you will pursue this matter to the END!

Anonymous said...

OK. Who was the 10,000th visitor? Ken? Nick? No, not Marla!!

ESD15.org said...

Excuse me? We have had One Hundred Thousand page views.

Anonymous said...

They wouldn't have to change their entire name. Just the last name.

I suppose it must be very confusing when Sonntag's female friends get married. Every time it happens, he all of the sudden has a new person to meet.

I wonder if he has any daughters? When they get married - watch out for MISSING posters.

Anonymous said...

Yikes. I missed the "0" in the middle.

Anonymous said...

With counting skills like those, you have a future in auditing for the State or purchasing land for the District.

Of course, I kid.

Anonymous said...

Of course, but it was a good one!!