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Protecting taxpayers at all costs
I have been following the 9/11 Memorial project since it was publicly known that the beams were being sought after. I participated in the ride from North Bend to Silverdale that brought the beams to Kitsap County.
I watched as the site selection process took its own sort of unbelievable political road trip through Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue and the Port of Silverdale for possible sites in the Central Kitsap area and finally moved on to the city of Bremerton and the Bremerton parks commission for the final site selected near Evergreen Rotary Park.
For over three years, I have been very curious about the language in the original application and in the supporting documentation from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
I have also been curious about the actual contents of the legal documents from the United States District Court, Southern District of New York that officially transferred the legal ownership of the artifacts in question from the Port Authority to the awarded applicants which in this instance is Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue.
Rumors and speculation continued to be tossed about regarding the restrictions, mandates and stipulations contained within the documents about the expectations of handling of the artifacts, project funding, location and maintenance.
I attended many Bremerton city council meetings about this project as well as attending more than one meeting of the 9/11 Memorial group itself.
I started calling for the release of these documents in some of my earliest columns years ago and hoped that through my appointed service this January as a Bremerton parks commissioner I would finally be able to read these documents and get the answers to the questions that I had about the project and how it would affect citizens of Bremerton.
Just this week I did obtain the documents in question. They are haunting to read. The full impact of what these artifacts still are and their ongoing role, subject to inspection, as continuing evidence in September 11 Litigations hits you full in chest as you read them.
I can understand now why these documents were never released to the public by the original applicants.
There is specific language located within them that forbid the artifacts from ever being used for fundraising. Yet, that is exactly what they were used for as they were transported from event to event as a traveling road show which included their lengthy display at the Kitsap County Fair.
There is also specific language that outlines the ownership of the artifacts. These artifacts continue to reside under the ownership of Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue until an official transfer to any other party is approved through a full legal process by the NY Port Authority.
The petition for such a transfer has not been done.
In fact, it appears that the city of Bremerton, either through its elected or appointed leadership, did not adhere to its own process for the usage of assets not owned by the city as outlined by the city charter.
What has been openly and recently touted as a gift to the city by the appointed 9/11 Memorial committee city council representative was, in fact, not a gift at all since the giver of the gift had no legal right to transfer it to anyone and still retains full ownership.
No evidence that any efforts on the side of the city of Bremerton to obtain the existing legal documents that govern these artifacts can be found. How can the city ensure they are in compliance with those legal documents if they have never obtained them.
Thankfully, a concerned citizen did obtain them from the Port Authority and has discussed them with the Bremerton city attorney just this past Friday. Finally the city legal department can begin to unravel the messy, negligent circumvention of the existing process regarding usage, ownership and ongoing maintenance that the former city council president and various directors have put this city in.
I have no objection to the current project being completed or located here now.
What I do have an objection to is the complete lack of due diligence from city leaders involved on a project of this nature.
It has been well documented, through the public meeting process, that citizens and parks commissioners raised questions about use, maintenance, design, location and ownership at multiple points within the entire process.
Their questions and objections were dismissed and now we have involved city leaders who are currently on record with their steadfast refusal to make apologies for the lack of financial and legal protection due the citizens of Bremerton that they are either elected or appointed to provide. X