Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Friend" enriched through "poorly written" lease.

There are a few subtle problems with the manner in which the Auditor conducts their evaluations. While they are overly-focused on the technical nuances regarding this transaction, they fail to realize that the seller of these pianos is a friend of Tam Osborne and Marla Miller. With very little effort, public employees funneled business to a friend and propped up the entire transaction on shoddy work from legal counsel.

As one of our readers mentioned earlier, the District fully-intended to receive pianos from Seattle Piano Gallery. The "Lease" was the weapon through which funds were ripped from the hands of taxpayers.

What is also rather sad and pathetic is the second payment that was made "in error". This payment was intentional and the claim that it was made "in error" was to conceal an obvious violation in bid processes. [Just how easy do you think it is to get a check from Business Services for $40,000.00?]

Whether it's corruption or incompetence, the outcome remains the same. One of the District's friends made off with $109,511.00 in special treatment.

The following is from the State Auditor.

Piano Lease

The District was not able to ensure that they received the lowest reasonable price for 13 pianos the District received. The District entered into a lease agreement with the intent to receive 14 pianos for use during the 2006 – 2007 school year, and receive reimbursement for the full amount initially paid for the pianos. The District paid a total of $109,511 and were able to obtain possession of the pianos following the bankruptcy of the piano distributor, as agreed upon in the lease. Included in the total paid was a payment of $39,748 that should not have been paid. Due to miscommunication at the District this amount was paid and could not be recovered. Though the District is in compliance with the lease agreement they can not ensure that they received the lowest reasonable price for the pianos because they did not go through the bid process.

I talked to Marta [DeLeon] about this item as I was concerned that based on what they paid they were not in compliance with bid law. She looked over all the information and said that though the lease was poorly written they were technically in compliance with bid law requirements, but based on how they handled this situation they can not ensure that the lowest price was received. She didn’t feel comfortable reporting it as a finding, but was ok with a ML or an exit item. Based on the dollar amount paid, I thought a ML was appropriate, but wanted to confirm with you that that reporting level is consistent.

Courtney Amonsen
Assistant Audit Manager
Washington State Auditor's Office
3501 Colby Avenue, Suite 100B
Everett, WA 98201-4794
(425) 257-2137 - Main Line
(425) 257-2149 - Fax

19 comments: said...

$109,511.00 is from the $76,121.10 initially paid + $39,748.00 paid by the music department
- $4,617.36 for the piano sold - $1,740.80 paid by SPG for anticipated profit = $109,510.94.

Total spent: $109,511.00
Total pianos received: 13
Average price: $8,423.92

Anonymous said...

And I would bet that their personal finances are a piece of work as well. Way to go Tam and Marla. You're both Stars. Good job leading by example. Two people to keep kids away from for sure! I'd throw you in the same catagory Nick, but you don't seem to be leading anybody. You're being towed.

Anonymous said...

And did we even need 13 pianos? And are they in use now? Is anybody keeping track of them as an asset?

Anonymous said...

Will the district post the "exit" info on their home page? They seemed proud to post the findings in May, so I assume they will be proud to post the exit info too.

Anonymous said...

Is there a way to find out the EXACT location of the 13 piano's? When I worked at an Elementary school for 24 years, we had an upright piano on wheels for moving from the Music room to the Gym for performances, all those years and had it tuned every other year! I have never heard of a grand piano in Elementary schools; there are 5 High schools,(which includes Scriber Lake High), so where are the rest of the pianos?

Anonymous said...

Could somebody at the warehouse look for them? I know there are pianos at the warehouse.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I want to know exactly where those 13 pianos are.

Anonymous said...

Okay, fess up: I would like to know where the pianos are located, really I would. I do not work for the District, but I did for many years and I am on the "Blog's" side of the fence. I cannot believe (actually I could) that Marla would purchase 13 piano's and then store them in the Warehouse. How does she justify the expenditure? I just don't get it. The auditors must be dumb, blind, deaf, or all three!

Anonymous said...

I know there have been open records requests for e-mails, etc. about the piano lease but has anyone done an open records request for e-mails and documents pertaining to the pianos in general?

Anonymous said...

Maybe a bunch of concerned citizens could stand in front of the ESC holding placards and signs asking that very question.

You figure to post the pickets at about 10 am. That way you'll catch the people arriving late for waork as well as the ones heading out early for lunch. said...

If I make such a request, it will take more than 30 days for the District to provide the documents. If someone else asked, maybe the information could be available in a few days.

You should ask for the current location of each of the 13 pianos and where they have been since 2005.

Anonymous said...

I posted the suggestion about the open records request earlier. Unfortunately, I can't make such a request as I fear for the safety of my job and worry about retaliation against my children, who attend a school in the ESD. Maybe a blog reader who is not similarly constrained could make the request?

Anonymous said...

Mark, I will make a request for the location of the 13 pianos. Can you please tell me who to address my request to? (Name of person and department, please.)
Thanks so much. said...

Marla Miller
Public Records Officer
Edmonds School District
20420 68th Avenue West
Lynnwood, WA 98036 said...

And for the lawyers that are tracking my activity on the blog, I am on vacation.

Anonymous said...

Well, I can't make the request because I'm a school board member and the others won't like me anymore if I start to ask questions.

Anonymous said...

Please note the previous writer's fear of retaliation, not just for themselves, but for their children as well.

This is not the way to run a school district. Democracy requires that the stakeholders (parents, tax payers, students) of an organization are given honest information without fear of retaliation. What are they hiding? Where there is fear, there is no democracy.

Is that the lesson Edmonds SD will give your students to bring home?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information Mark, on who to contact to request the whereabouts of the 13 piano's. I have nothing to lose as I am a retired,(forced),concerned citizen, and taxpayer, living in the Edmonds School District. I will share the information if I receive a reply.

Anonymous said...

Another letter from Marla Miller: