Tokeland loop failure, ratepayer rip-off
As an observant ratepayer of our PUD No. 2, for years I believe the root causes of this failure are:
The first important failure is Commissioner Chair Diana Thompson’s lack of any understanding of her position in the big picture, and transparency. The Legislature in 1971 made a declaration when creating open meeting laws: “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them The people in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.” The lack of PUD No. 2 transparency is a failure by Thompson. Her despicable behavior at the March 21 meeting certainly demonstrates her lack of acceptance of the people’s right to know.
The second failure is improper engineering management of the Tokeland loop project by General Manager Doug Miller and Chief Engineer Jason Dunsmoor. The entire Tokeland loop project was a classic failure due to lack of understanding and application of engineering development tools. The need for the project was never clearly developed; design requirements were not developed nor understood; permits were not applied for, nor understood; and cost estimates for entire project were never developed — to name just a few basic engineering development methods. In other words, the project was designed for failure, which they achieved. The Tokeland project under Miller’s and Dunsmoor’s supervision developed some “cartoons,” which they passed off as engineering, plus plans that were in Dunsmoor’s head, as he reported to the Chinook Observer in an interview in September 2002. For this the ratepayers spent unknown millions with no results. Wonderful!
For this failure, in December 2016 they were both awarded, by a lame-duck commission, very lucrative contracts (each will cost us well over $200,000 a year) for continuing Miller as general manager, and Dunsmoor as chief engineer and then as general manager starting this October. Both contracts require all three commissioners to agree to terminate them, this is what I call a Commissioner Thompson veto.
Folks, we have been ripped off.
I believe Commissioners Mike Swanson and Dick Anderson will do their best to get PUD No. 2 functional again, but they are going to need the ratepayers’ support to correct the PUD No. 2 management failures.
Support local public radio
Joanne Rideout, general manager of KMUN, was the guest speaker at the monthly chapter meeting of AAUW on Saturday, April 15. I want to share some of the many things that I learned about our radio station across the bridge. There are three kinds of radio stations — commercial, public like Oregon Public Broadcasting, and community. KMUN is a community station run by mainly by volunteers, as opposed to commercial and OPB, which are run by mainly paid employees.
Although we hear programs from National Public Radio on KMUN, the station has to purchase these programs. Most of the broadcasting is local news, local arts, music, theater. Local includes the Peninsula. There are Peninsula residents who have programs on the air regularly, who drive across that bridge in all kinds of weather to keep the programming coming to us. KMUN is a regional station.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is a major fund source and is being threatened along with National Public Radio in the budget process. CPB is a major funding source for KMUN. The station needs our support more than ever now. Memberships keep the station going along with grants and some funds from CPB.
To state the importance of this source of communication for the region, including those of us on this side of the bridge, let us turn back to December 2007. KMUN was the only media still operating. Our land lines were out, most of our cell phones were out, those without ham radios and having battery operated radios received all our information from KMUN informing us what resources were available, weather forecasts, food situations, etc.
Call your representatives and those on the Senate Appropriations Committee to remind them of the importance of NPR and CPB and PBS. There are many things on the chopping block of importance but to a rural area like ours. Communication through community radio is crucial.
Of course, the programming is amazing, too. When I drive to Astoria, it is KMUN that accompanies me. I hear my friends’ voices on the programming and our events being announced. On Arts Alive we hear our Peninsula friends being interviewed. I, for one, would be very lost without the wonderful enrichment I receive through KMUN.
President, Willapacific Branch AAUW
PUD creates ‘private empire’
For over 20 years, the ratepayers of Pacific County PUD have been billed millions extra for the screw-ups made by upper management. This includes about $15 million in paying back a 1996 bond for the abandoned Oysterville intertie. Then in 2016 PUD took on $29 million more in debt to try to hide the original 1996 mistake. That’s about $44 million added on to our future light bills poured down a rat hole with nothing of value to show for it. The good news is that the two newest PUD commissioners canceled the planned Tokeland buyback, which would have added another $20 million-plus onto our future light bills, also for no reason. Manager Doug Miller and Engineer Jason Dunsmore, with the encouragement of Commissioner Diana Thompson, are responsible for this ongoing fiasco. Every ratepayer is paying for this boondoggle and will be for the next 20 years.
Because the Tokeland buyout was canceled, we now don’t need $14 million of the last loan they took out. However, Commissioners Ron Hatfield (now retired) and Thompson, on Miller’s advice, borrowed the $18 million with the catch that it can’t be paid back early or a high penalty will be added. Through incompetence, mismanagement and deceit, Miller and Dunsmore have denied us a rate decrease while creating themselves a private empire within our PUD’s management sector. Their control has been near complete. By schmoozing the commissioners for years, Miller has been calling the shots while elevating his position far above its worth, while the commissioners we elected to watch over management became management’s lackeys. Dunsmore’s lack of experience and disregard of basic engineering practice created the core of this disaster, the abandoned under-bay intertie to Oysterville for which $9.5 million was originally borrowed. He spent little effort determining if the project was physically possible, environmentally conforming, or cost effective. The project was started, several million wasted, then had to be abandoned because Dunsmore didn’t do his job. Even Miller recently testified that the bay crossing was technically improbable. There are serious other issues concerning Dunsmore’s work history. Although management has attempted to cover it up, these issues should be reexamined along with an accounting of the millions of dollars he has cost us ratepayers to date.
With this kind of record, one should expect our past commissioners would have fired or at very least acted on this upper management failure. It didn’t happen. Ex-PUD Commissioner Hatfield and present Commissioner Thompson protected and shielded both Miller and Dunsmore throughout their terms. Thompson still does.
Instead, together they rewarded the two, who are now the highest paid public figures in Pacific County — Miller at $199,527 per year and Dunsmore at $174,016. Commissioners Thompson and Hatfield during the last meeting of Hatfield’s term, in December 2016, signed a contract promoting Dunsmore to the retiring Miller’s job and a raise to Miller’s salary. This action took away the present commissioners’ ability to choose their own manager, a legally questionable move.
In the same period, they rewarded Miller with what is termed a “golden parachute,” whereby our PUD is fined if Miller is removed before he chooses to retire, likely doubling his yearly stipend to nearly $500,000.
As part of a group of concerned observers of our PUD, we’ve noted an increasing disregard by management for the interests of the public that they are supposed to be serving. We do not endorse the automatic appointment of Dunsmore to manager position or the action taken by a defunct commission to hire him. The position should be open to the best candidate based upon their experience and employment history. We as PUD owners deserve that much.
We find that public relations have deteriorated between staff and customers and are not at the high level that they ought to be and are being influenced by the present aloof management style.
We also find that an inconsistent policy on hook-ups and customer service needs vast improvement. There are many more issues that need to be revisited and addressed that are presently being ignored but could be addressed in an open public forum.
We do have hope with both Swanson and Anderson as the new majority of the commission. Resolution of the issues outlined will determine the PUD’s future for years to come, both in the rates we pay and returning the utility to informed public control that it should have. None of our group has any more to gain or lose than any other ratepayer.
All the issues in this letter are backed up with solid evidence taken from PUD records, statements from PUD personnel, and the time line of PUD actions under past and present management.
Media constantly changing its narrative
“And the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”
This was President Barack Obama’s response during the third presidential debate on Oct. 22, 2012, when Gov. Mit Romney stated that Russia is one of America’s greatest geopolitical foes. For weeks the Dems and the media scoffed and laughed at Romney’s remarks.
When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sold 20 percent of America’s uranium reserves to the Russians in exchange for campaign cash, a deal that she and former President Bill Clinton worked on during her entire tenure, did the media have a hissy fit? No, they yawned. Did the Dems express concern? Nope, they nominated Mrs. Clinton as their presidential candidate.
Now, they are claiming that Russia and Putin are some kind of big, bad boogeymen that we must all be deathly afraid of? What has changed? Russia hasn’t changed. Putin hasn’t changed. Donald Trump became president, That is what changed.
In an effort to damage the new administration, the Dems and the media created a false narrative that President Trump has some nefarious ties to Putin and/or the Russian government.
Someone tried to hack both the Democratic and Republican national committee email servers during the election. The feds got wind of it and warned both parties. The RNC upgraded their server’s security system, and the DNC did not. That is why/how the DNC emails were hacked and the RNC were not, not any ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The successful hacking resulted in some “bad guy” getting the DNC’s emails and giving them to Wikileaks. It was Clinton’s bad luck that so many of her top aides’ emails revealed to the whole world her dishonesty, sneakiness, greed and corruption. The emails also revealed the chicanery that was employed by the DNC to get Clinton nominated over Bernie Sanders.
Had they been able to acquire RNC emails, would Wikileaks have made them public? We can only speculate. Would the RNC emails have been as embarrassing or damaging as the DNC’s? We will never know.
Did the information contained in the DNC emails cost Clinton any votes? Again, we will never know. It certainly didn’t change my vote.
There is no “there” there, according to everyone involved in the investigation who has chosen to speak publicly.
Have you noticed the not-too-subtle shift in media narrative following President Trump’s foreign policy and military successes in early April? They are “reporting” less on the alleged Russia/Trump connection and have switched to “showing” us his “flip flops” between his campaign speeches and his actions in recent days, and completely ignoring his numerous actions wherein he fulfilled his campaign promises.
The media is pretending that Trump is the first president to “change his mind” after taking office. When Obama changed his mind about, for example, gay marriage, the media said he was “evolving” in his thinking. They lauded Obama for his ability to change his mind.
Each day since Jan. 20, Trump has been hit with the cold hard reality of making decisions that he did not have to make during his decades in business. Yes, we will see more evolving taking place in the Oval Office.
Diane L. Gruber
Gruber and her husband, Michael, have enjoyed a vacation home in Oysterville for 22 years
End 16 years of warfare
In August 2001 I took a picture of my youngest son. He was about 10, and over his right shoulder stood the Twin Towers. On 9/11, the Saudis slammed into the Twin Towers, so Bush attacked Iraq. The mother of my youngest son, a flight attendant, along with tens of thousands of Americans, was grounded, she in Detroit with no way home, while Bush flew the Bin Laden family and their entourage out of the U.S. back to Saudi Arabia.
In 2012 I took a picture of my youngest son at Fort Bragg as he was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division. In 2017 I took a picture of my youngest son as he started his new career. Many families were not as fortunate. We are still at war. Sixteen years of endless war, trillions of dollars down the drain and tens of thousands of people slaughtered.
On April 6, President Donald Trump unleashed Tomahawk missiles on Syria, purportedly because Syria gassed their own people and the pictures of the children killed was chilling. Americans were outraged, but they were not outraged when Trump launched an ill-fated raid in Yemen where we killed civilians, some of them children. Where was the outrage when Americans under Obama killed many civilians, many children with drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen? Where is Donald Trump’s compassion for the homeless children from Middle East cities and towns that we bombed and now seek refuge from the slaughter? Where was American outrage when Iraq gassed Iranians and their own people?
The countless civilians slaughtered by American armament certainly are not making friends. You know — you kill my family and friends, I kill yours. Is this going to make America safe and great? I think not. Does anyone honestly think that bombs, drones and troops are going to subdue a people who do not want to be occupied?
If you have young children or grandchildren, are they to going to be fed into the war machine over the next 16 years? Mine was, but we were lucky — my youngest son is home and pursuing his dreams. Tell your congressional delegation you want an end to war, hate and fear-mongering. This will make America great again.
Read up on Middle East facts
Allie Friese seems an earnest young columnist eager to share her world insights with us who might be living in a hole. (April 12, “Here we go again: Another useless war”). Her writing exudes a passionate certainty better suited to a topic on which Ms. Friese had personal knowledge.
Yes, the Middle East is a confused mess, but today’s conditions did not begin with radical neo-cons, but in the mists of history. The cradle of civilization has been witness to a bloody history with warring tribes, battling kingdoms, conflicting religions and the east vs west struggle that gave rise to the Byzantine and Ottoman empires.
The current conflicts, sitting atop this history, are not an American creation even if we have unnecessarily stirred the pot. The direct connection between cause and effect that Ms. Friese draws appeals to those with ahistorical views.
Those interested in taking an in-depth look might begin by reading David Fromkin’s “A Peace to end All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East.” A New York Times bestseller, first published in 1989, Fromkin predates today’s political posturing.
With a wider but related theme, Samuel P. Huntington’s 1996 tome, “The Clash of Civilizations: Remaking of World Order,” is also instructive.
Bernard Lewis, professor emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, wrote extensively on the Middle East in the last half of the last century. His 1995 book, “The Middle East: A Brief
History of the Last 2,000 Years,” remains topical.
For a more personal view the renowned author V.S. Naipul provided his insights into contemporary Islam in two separate books: “Among the Believers: An Islamic Journey,” as well as his “Beyond Belief: Islamic Excursions Among the Converted Peoples.”
I commend these books to Ms. Friese and look forward to a column on a topic she understands.