Columbian Ignores Appearance of Corruption Surrounding CRC

by lewwaters

Thanks to the work of forensic accountant Tiffany Couch and County Commissioner candidate David Madore, the veil wrapped around the Columbia River Crossing Project is gradually being peeled back, not that you will ever read of word of it in the local newspaper of record, the Columbian.

While the Oregonian, the Reflector and the Willamette Week have all published articles and reports critical of the CRC, the Columbian continues to provide cover, ignoring or minimizing recent reports and evidence uncovered and released by Ms. Couch, writing them off as “more of the same.”

They are not.

A previous report covered the potential violation of Washington State Open Meetings Laws, but a subsequent report released on October 12, 2012 delves even deeper into the darkness we have seen associated with the CRC.

Ms. Couch raises several questions that remain unanswered and, not even asked by the Columbian who proudly boasts on their front page, “Serving Clark County, Washington.”

Just who in Clark County is served is debatable.


Questions raised include, whether:

The CRC project office sufficiently advertised for and made attempts to find sufficient competition from a wide area for the CRC project contract prior to awarding the contract to David Evans and Associates.

The CRC project office sufficiently documented its potential “Organizational Conflict of Interest” with David Evans and Associates to ensure that the firm did not have an unfair competitive advantage over other qualified firms as a result of performing “pre-CRC” studies on the I-5 corridor.

Increasing costs on the David Evans and Associates contract could be attributable to their own design errors (some of which have been documented publicly). We also question whether the CRC project office has quantified the financial impacts of these potential errors as called for in the WSDOT Consultant Services Manual. We further question whether any costs attributable to errors by David Evans and Associates, or their subcontractors, has been reimbursed to the State of Washington.

Also in question is “budget and oversight practices that allow for a $50 million “Maximum Amount Payable” contract to inflate to $131,220,000 with little more than a series of 3 page standard language documents.”

Read the full report here and substantiating exhibits here and here.

H/T Couv.com

If the Columbian actually was “Serving Clark County, Washington,” it would be they pouring over these documents or at least giving credence to the extensive research ongoing by Ms. Couch and her firm, Acuity Group LLC. Instead, they immediately question or provide the means for proponents of the CRC to denigrate both Ms. Couch and her abilities, providing cover what is looking more and more like deeply entrenched corruption by many.

In fact, the Columbian could not even be bothered to report when Ms. Couch’s family home was vandalized over a year ago.

Brought out in the report is that one contractor, David Evans & Associates was initially tasked with a $50 Million “MAXIMUM AMOUNT PAYABLE” contract that has somehow increased to $131,220,000, a 162% increase. Studies have been done, plan drawn, reviewed accepted and rejected and yet, the current design had to be scrapped due to insufficient river traffic clearance under the bridge, reported by the Columbian to be “mediated” by elected officials.

Over all costs to date exceed $150 Million with nothing more than a pile of paper to show for it.

A third report released just today, October 17, 2012 reveals even more areas of deep concern for taxpayers in Clark County, Washington.

The reports Executive Summary states,

“Currently, the CRC project area ‘bridge influence area’ is defined by the CRC project office as an approximately 5 mile stretch of the Interstate 5 corridor between Columbia Boulevard to the south in Oregon and State Route 500 to the north in Washington. During the course of our review, we identified documents that indicate the CRC project office applied for funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for proposed components of the CRC project that are outside of the originally proposed ‘bridge influence area’.”

“Specifically, the documents the CRC project office has submitted to the FTA contain the following language:
TriMet’s current maintenance facility at Ruby Junction in the City of Gresham would be
Expanded
.”
“….and improvements to Portland’s Steel Bridge for speed and reliability would occur.”

I have to ask, what does a maintenance facility in Gresham, Oregon and Portland’s Steel Bridge have to do with Clark County, Washington taxpayers? Will our taxes and high tolls imposed on the new bridge go to Oregon to expand their folly while our community languishes?

Disturbing is reading in the latest report,

“We question why the Columbia River Crossing “Ruby Junction upgrade” is over $40 million (more than 450%) greater than the cost estimates of the two most recent Ruby Junction projects; projects, which expanded the light rail system by a similar number of light rail cars. It is my professional opinion that the cost difference of the proposed Ruby Junction upgrade for the Columbia River Crossing is significant enough to be classified as an irregularity.”

“We further question why CRC Project Director, Nancy Boyd, provided testimony to the Washington State Legislative Oversight committee that omitted these components of the light rail transit system. After being asked twice about whether there would be costs for light rail components outside the bridge influence area, Ms. Boyd maintained costs were only to extend the light rail from Portland into Vancouver. It wasn’t until which time she was specifically asked about Ruby Junction or the Steel Bridge that Ms. Boyd admitted that there were, indeed, planned expenditures outside of the bridge influence area.”(emphasis added)

See the third report here and exhibits here.

Why are we in Clark County, Washington expected to pay for improvements in Oregon and downtown Portland, Oregon, miles away from where we are told a new Interstate Bridge and light rail is to be extended?

It is widely known that Portland’s TriMet/Light Rail transportation system south of the river remains deep in debt, growing at a rate of $1.5 Million per week.

Why are Washington’s elected officials supporting dragging our taxpayers into their nightmare? Why isn’t the Columbian revealing these staggering numbers?

This blog, several citizens and Ms. Couch have been calling for an investigation into the growing evidence of corruption surrounding the CRC.

An ethics complaint has been filed against Vancouver’s mayor, Timothy Leavitt for what appears to be a glaring conflict of interest, largely met by silence from the Columbian, who is supposed to be “Serving Clark County, Washington.”

A telephone conversation with Ms. Couch this week indicated more reports will be released in the future as her independent audit of hundreds of documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request.

I urge you all to read each of the linked reports as we see our ballots arriving in the mail currently to cast our vote for a C-TRAN tax increase claimed needed to pay for light rail operations & maintenance when we citizens have not yet even been allowed to vote whether or not we even want Portland’s financially failing light rail in our community.

We must vote down this tax increase. We must increase the call for this project to be immediately halted and a criminal investigation launched, with prosecutions if warranted.

Elected officials running for election currently, like County Commissioner Marc Boldt, a strong supporter of dragging this boondoggle into our community must be voted out and replaced with David Madore, owner of U.S. Digital, candidate for County Commissioner and who is funding this independent audit out of his own pocket on your behalf.

County Commissioner Tom Mielke and State Senator Don Benton have both been strong voices on your behalf opposing forcing you to pay for Oregon’s folly. They should be retained.

49th Legislative District Representatives’ Jim Moeller and Sharon Wylie support you paying for Portland’s mess. They need voted out and replaced by Debbie Peterson and Carolyn Crain.

Candidate for the 49th State Senate seat Annette Cleveland is another who supports the CRC. Eileen Qutub should be voted in to help stop the madness.

And most of all, we must begin holding the Columbian accountable for their part in turning a blind eye to what by all appearance is a massive scandal pertaining to our taxes.

7 Comments to “Columbian Ignores Appearance of Corruption Surrounding CRC”

  1. What’s even worse (about the CRC-light rail scheme) is that technology is overtaking this 19th century transportation approach. Self-driving cars are becoming an ever closer reality (now permitted in Nevada and California) — These true “auto” mobiles, once they are used in sufficient numbers, can easily double or triple the capacity of our streets and highways, negating the need for expanded public transit systems.

    The sad reality is that extending transit and building a new bridge are all calculated to line the pockets of favored contractors and unions — and to further the collectivist goals covered by “Agenda 21.”

    As for the Columbian — I can’t imagine why anybody would want to subscribe to a publication that does not fully serve its readers’ needs. And for those who do not agree with the editorial positions, why subsidize a publication that you do not agree with?

    The left-stream media (including the Columbian) was recently exposed by the outrageous behavior of the so-called “journalist” Candy Crowley in the recent Presidential Debate. This is how the left acts … we should not support it.

    Like

  2. Friend of John Galt – I decided some time ago that I would never subscribe again to the publication in question for several reasons, not because it was a political leaning, issue or some other desire that may have been expressed on the local blogs. It simply came down to this, a lot of the information published tends to be sensationalized, out-of-context, way out-of-line or simply put, of no interest to my taste or talent.

    And barely put, I choose to most of the time not read the Op-Ed editor or the main executive editor’s “Press Talk.” Because more often than not, it reads like someone not even aware to the basic causes and issues that plague our county and local community here in Vancouver or the extended suburban, southern reaches unincorporated of Clark County… And I would might want to add, why do they have such a high turn over rate amongst their news staff going on many, many years?

    If anyone hasn’t noticed, a lot of the local blogs, community papers outside the downtown core tend to scope this paper and more often than not, it seems like when I do turn to a link directed from some of the writers there, it reads like a physical scrape of a source I have already read?

    Now may be one final point before I get off the precipice of the soapbox I have been afforded, I would love to see a local community newspaper or source, do what our regular daily seems to choose to not to do. And it may take someone locally with a bit pal of spit shine and a resources to put some thing together. I know there is a local pamplin media group based radio station crowing on 1550 KKOV (which used to be KVAN in the past) that repeatedly says it is the “Voice of Vancouver” yet, all I hear from it is the same drone on syndicate hosts that got spit over to it from KPAM a few years back.

    I have been crowing on this subject for many years and there have been many foregone conclusions and options. I do want to give some credit to David Madore and Tiffany Couch for stepping forward in our community, setting up web sites, digging for information, spending huge amounts of money, resources and their time to dig into issues. It is not some thing you will normally find unless someone is a dedicated, good information miner or researcher able to root things out that really has needed to see the light of day.

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  3. This blog does cover local issues better than the local newspaper quite often. Solid information about local issues can be found at http://www.Couv.com. The Acuity Group’s Tiffany Couch is interviewed there, as are others.

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  4. That is why there is a link to Couv.com, Clark County Politics blog and other sources in the sidebar 😉

    In fact, when I opened this blog I put an open invitation to all for anyone interested to contribute and I would grant them total access to post directly and freely on conservative subjects. After two years and not one taker, I took the invitation down and decided I would just do it myself.

    I frequently link to or direct readers to material on Couv.com and elsewhere, even within this very post.

    I do not see any reciprocal linkage in posts there.

    There is no need for you to direct readers where I already have and I don’t really appreciate that you did.

    My blog stands or falls on its own merit, as Couv.com should.

    Like

  5. And I stand by Lew’s comment…

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  6. I third that motion. You Lewis are providing an important service of exposure to much of the corruption that is taking place here in Clark County, and Vancouver. You show the Columbian out for what they are, (createring news where there is none), and supporters of all things that fancy Vancouver’s City Council and what they want pushed through. I even love the way you prove this by showing their anger and skewed reporting titles when things don’t go automatically their way. Once again, do NOT underestimate your value to our community and interests. You did not create this blog as a springboard for upstarts, but as something of an alternative to the tiring and crazy reporting.

    If there is no link to your blog from Couv.com, I want to know why. You must be wrong about that.

    Like

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