Update on Performance Audits
for Tacoma and Pierce County

At what point shall we expect the approach of danger?
By what means shall we fortify against it?
Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant
to step the ocean and crush us at a blow?
Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined,
could not by force take a drink from the Ohio,
or make a track on the Blue Ridge,
in a trial of a thousand years. If destruction be our lot
we must ourselves be its author and finisher.
Abraham Lincoln
line

homejump.gifReturn to Accountability Home Page

Why No Updates?

The police got their new police headquarters. They are satisfied. Former Chief Brame was more interested in having citizens pay for the police to respond to false home alarms not implementing the performance audit. The citizen's be damned. Not one officer has said "Thank You". I also helped them get a new fingerprint system. No "Thank You". I also found the police had been over charged over a million and a half dollars by Equipment Rental. No "Thank You" We owe them. Now a thank you is 5 years too late. I did have a dog and cat accidentally die within two weeks of each other last summer.(1-17-06)

Making a fine fire department better Audit envisions fewer stations, leaner force The News Tribune

There were enough superlatives directed at the Tacoma Fire Department Tuesday to make even veteran firefighters blush. But as a new performance audit makes clear, that doesn't mean there isn't room for improvement. Auditors from Carroll Buracker & Associates Inc. - the same firm that audited the Tacoma Police Department last year - presented their findings to the Tacoma City Council. The auditing team, which praised TFD as one of the nation's best fire departments, cited numerous TFD strengths, including the department's strong recruitment and training efforts, mobile data terminals, computer-based mapping system and high-quality personnel. But the auditors also made 48 recommendations to improve department efficiency, including reducing city fire stations from 16 to 14 and relocating five others. Auditors said the moves would reduce response times and increase fire and emergency service to parts of the city. The changes would be costly; one new fire station would cost about $2.5 million. Given the attachment of many residents to their neighborhood stations, such changes also would be controversial. One notable recommendation calls for the city to negotiate with the Port of Tacoma to help fund fire-protection service in the Tideflats, including a fireboat and a full-time station. This move is long overdue. Such funding arrangements are common in large port cities, the report notes, and the Port of Tacoma's plans for major expansion will only increase the need for port-related fire protection. The port needs to be a funding partner. Unless sufficient funding can be provided, the auditors recommend mothballing the city's high-tech fireboat and relying on a smaller rigid-hull, inflatable craft that can respond more quickly to emergencies on the waterfront. The report also recommends that the department replace private ambulance companies by taking patients with non-life-threatening injuries to the hospital. This suggestion should be regarded skeptically. The audit claims replacing private ambulances would guarantee a uniform level of medical service throughout the city and provide the department up to $1.9 million a year in revenue. But a stronger case must be made that existing private ambulance service isn't adequate. Generating money for the department isn't sufficient reason. If all the recommendations in the report were carried out, the department would end up with 47 fewer firefighter positions as well as fewer stations. Among other things, the report says the department has too many engines, ladder trucks and ambulances. The report also recommends a more effective shift schedule than the one the department has used since 1983, and says the department should be using civilian fire dispatchers instead of commissioned captains and lieutenants. None of those efficiency moves would sit well with the firefighters union, which can be expected to push strongly for taking over private ambulance service in order to preserve firefighter jobs. Tacoma's new police chief, David Brame, has committed himself to carrying out the recommendations of Buracker's police audit wherever feasible. Fire Chief Eileen Lewis and her boss, City Manager Ray Corpuz, should show similar resolve. Tacomans can be pleased at the audit's recognition of the fire department's overall quality. But they should also expect the city to follow through with changes that will give citizens better fire service for their money. © The News Tribune 05/09/2002

See What the Tacoma News Tribune Thinks of the Tacoma Police Department Audit.

Police, city resume negotiations TACOMA: State mediator joins contract talks; performance audit could influence bargaining

Martha Modeen; The News Tribune

After 10 months of talks, the City of Tacoma and the city's police officers' union begin meeting with a state mediator today.

The 341 members of Local 6 have been working without a contract since Jan. 1, when the union's two-year agreement expired. Local 6 represents Tacoma's patrol officers, detectives and sergeants.

Roughly 12 of 32 contract items still need to be resolved, said Pat Frantz, Local 6 president.

A city official, however, characterized labor talks as largely fruitless so far.

"The whole contract is open," said Phil Knudsen, Tacoma's human resources manager. "We've made very little progress. That's why we have the mediation process."

Today's negotiations come just two weeks after the release of a performance audit of the police department. The timing of the report could exert added pressure on talks.

The consultant doled out criticism of both the city and the union, noting that "relations between Local 6 and the city have been contentious and adversarial." Knudsen acknowledged the topics addressed in the report likely would be discussed.

Representatives from both sides will meet at an undisclosed location with Ken Letsch, a mediator with the state Public Employees Relations Commission. Both the union and the city representatives declined to discuss what is stalling negotiations, saying to do so would violate ground rules both sides have agreed to.

The City Council will receive updates on talks in closed-door meetings.

In the recent police audit, Carroll Buracker, former chief of the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia, suggested that Local 6 successfully has gained ground in scheduling and disciplinary matters, sometimes to the detriment of the department or the city. That's a charge Frantz disputes.

"The union doesn't get things without the city signing off on them," Frantz said.

Buracker also wrote that until recently Local 6 "seemed better prepared than management to enter into contract negotiations."

"There are a number of provisions in the (union's labor) agreement which make it difficult to manage the department effectively and efficiently," Buracker wrote.

For example, Buracker said police are scheduled to work criminal investigations according to what's stipulated in the union contract rather than when crimes are occurring. Officers in criminal investigations work from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. or 9 a.m.to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, not at night or during weekends when prostitution, drug dealing, assaults and robberies occur.

Buracker also faulted the department's performance review system set forth under the union's contract. Performance reviews only can be used to counsel employees on strengths and weaknesses and future training and goals, rather than to determine assignments and promotions.

"This is contrary to 'best practices' police management," he wrote. "It is as if a commissioned officer's past performance track record simply just doesn't exist."

Frantz called the consultant's report "skewed."

"The union doesn't have $84,000 to put their side of (the issue) out right now," he said.

Meanwhile, on a different front, Local 6 members are unhappy with last month's failure of a $32 million capital bond measure that would have allocated $25 million for a new police headquarters.

Tacoma's headquarters were described by the consultant as the most substandard he's seen in the nation. More than 200 police employees continue to work at a former Washington State Patrol building near South 38th Street that was designed for about 50 employees.

The lack of adequate headquarters has lowered morale and hinders potential crime-solving communications among officers, police said.

In months to come, Local 6 members will urge city officials to make a new police headquarters a priority, Frantz said. "We're no closer now than we were eight years ago," Frantz said of a new headquarters.

Council members also said they want new police facilities, but last week decided to wait until February to try again for a bond measure to allow more time for planning.

- - -

* Staff writer Martha Modeen covers Tacoma. Reach her at 253-597-8646 or martha.modeen@mail.tribnet.com

Turn back two pages for a shocking read

It'll never show up on any bestseller lists, but Tacoma taxpayers should find the contents of the two preceding pages compelling reading. It's an outrageous story of mismanage-ment, inefficiency and waste in the Tacoma Police Department.

On today's Insight and Perspectives pages, we publish key portions of an independent performance audit that shows the department badly needs major changes to deliver the kind of service Tacoma residents deserve and expect.

The audit, performed by a nationally recognized law-enforcement consulting firm, publicly blows the whistle on a number of department practices that Tacoma's citizens and elected leaders simply should not tolerate.

For example, the consultants said they knew of no other police department in the nation that has the kind of patrol work schedule that gives Tacoma "Fat Thursday." It's called "Fat Thursday" because every officer on duty is scheduled to work on Thursday, a low-crime day, while only half the force works on weekends when crime is highest. This absurd schedule has everything to do with accomodating the police union and nothing to do with fighting crime and protecting the public.

In a similar vein, the audit reveals that Tacoma's police detectives work only regular daytime hours Monday through Friday, instead of being scheduled to rotate through nights and weekends when serious crimes most often occur. The result is either delayed investigations or unnecessary overtime.

There's more. Tacoma's police budget has increased by $20 million over the past six years - but the percentage of "cleared" cases of serious crime has fallen. Tacoma easily leads its West Coast peer cities in the number of sworn officers per 1,000 residents, yet the city has the sixth-highest crime rate among 34 peer cities nationally.

This page editorialized at length on the audit's findings last Sunday. This time we invite our readers to read the most disturbing parts of the audit's executive summary for themselves - and to join us in calling for a careful but thorough overhaul of the department's management and practices. 6/24/01

Agenda 2001: Blackout unjustified in police contract talks With public safety at stake, public should be in loop

It's troubling enough that the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma Police Union have been negotiating for the last 10 months without settling on a new contractÊ- and that a state mediator has been called in to help.

That fact alone would seem to call for some explanation. Yet city and union officials have mutually agreed not to provide the public with any information at all about what has led to the impasse, not even a general description of the issues at stake.

But this blackout is especially disturbing in light of the recent performance audit of the Tacoma Police Department. The audit, conducted by respected former police chief Carroll Buracker, concluded that the department was rife with inefficiencies - some of them rooted in past union contracts.

Take "Fat Thursday," for example. Thursdays have acquired this nickname within the department because the contract mandates 10-hour shifts, four days a week, for all patrol officers. The days off are either Friday, Saturday and Sunday, or Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, which means that every patrol officer in the force normally works every Thursday.

But the crime rate spikes on weekends, not Thursdays, so deployment doesn't reflect the city's public safety needs.

Similarly, the contract mandates 8 a.m.-to-4 p.m. or 9 a.m.-to-5 p.m. shifts, Monday through Friday, for detectives. This means the city must often must pay expensive overtime - on top of an already generous pay scale - when investigative work has to be done at night or on weekends.

Such disparities between needs and scheduling contribute to the higher-than-average cost of police protection in Tacoma - and perhaps to the department's lower-than-average rate of clearing crimes.

None of this reflects on the skills or professionalism of individual officers; the inefficiencies Buracker identified are institutional in nature. To a large extent, the Tacoma Police Department's disappointing bang-for-the-buck can be attributed to labor agreements that seem geared more to perquisites than public safety.

That's why the shape of the next contract is the public's business, not a private affair between city and union officials. Tacoma wound up with arrangements like "Fat Thursday" because unwise concessions were made behind closed doors, then presented as done deals to a compliant City Council. It isn't "bargaining in the media" to simply explain what is on the table; many labor contracts are successfully negotiated without making state secrets of the contested issues.

Given the impasse and the findings in Buracker's audit, it's wrong to deny ordinary Tacomans any information about what is going on in these talks.

line

Supreme Court Rules

When I received this you could have knocked me over with a feather. line

They are coming!!!!

3 years and 6,000 signatures later we are going to finally have a performance audit of the Tacoma Police Department. Also, one of their performance measures for 2001-2002 is to have ethics classes. I can't wait to see the curriculum and see who teaches the course.

Tacoma Police Department Audit

Politics Dirty as Usual in Tacoma.

PHYLLIS A. BARRETT


) NO. 99-2-13892-4
Plaintiff,


vs.


CITY OF TACOMA, a first class city; BRIAN EBERSOLE, Mayor; RAY CORPUZ, City Manager; Robin Jenkinson, City Attorney; ; RICK ROSENBLATT, City Clerk; TACOMA CITY COUNCIL

Defendants.

_____________________________________________________________

MOTION TO VACATE 5 April 2000 DECISION AND ORDER FOR A VISITING JUDGE

Plaintiff had filed a mandamus action in Pierce County Court to force the defendants to put the performance audit issue on the ballot. A hearing for dismissal of plaintiff’s case was scheduled for April 5, 2000. Before the 5 April 2000 hearing the plaintiff had attempted to ascertain which visiting judge would be assigned her case, but, it wasn’t until the day of the hearing plaintiff learned Judge Karen Conoley, Kitsap County, was the judge assigned the case.

Judge Conoley ruled for the defendants, yet, she asked no questions, made no findings of fact nor made no conclusions of law.

The plaintiff has since learned Judge Conoley is married to Judge Arthur Verharen, Pierce County Superior Court. Judge Verharen and other Pierce County Superior Court Judges oppose performance audits for the Pierce County Courts. Sharon Hjelseth, visiting judge coordinator for Pierce County Court confirmed Judge Verharen recused himself from her case. It follows if Judge Verharen had a conflict of interest in this case then his wife, Judge Conoley, had a conflict of interest.

Ethically Judge Conoley should have made public her relationship with Judge Verharen. She was a visiting judge in name only.

WHEREFORE plaintiff requests Judge Conoley’s decision be vacated. She further requests this case be remanded to the visiting judge coordinator, Sharon Hjelseth, so a truly impartial judge who has no conflict of interest nor appearance of conflict of interest can hear this case.

Respectfully submitted,

Phyllis A. Barrett

Tacoma, WA 98405

(4-14-00)

Continuing Pierce County Justice.

PHYLLIS A. BARRETT


NO. 99-2-13892-4
Plaintiff,


)

vs.


CITY OF TACOMA, a first class city; BRIAN EBERSOLE, ) Mayor; RAY CORPUZ, City Manager; Robin Jenkinson, City Attorney; ; RICK ROSENBLATT, City Clerk; TACOMA CITY COUNCIL

Defendants.

Memorandum in Support for Motion for Reconsideration

The plaintiff is requesting a Motion for Reconsideration under Superior Court Civil Rule 59 (a)(4)(7)(8)(9).

Exhibit 1 is Judge Karen Conoley’s decision dated April 5, 2000 in which she ruled for the defendants in their Motion to Dismiss.

In 1996 and 1997 the petitioner gathered almost 6,000 signatures on petitions to require performance audits for all Tacoma City Agencies, Departments and Programs. Plaintiff filed the petitions with the City Clerk in May, June and July 1997. Tacoma City Charter Section 2.19

Upon the filing of such petition the City Clerk shall forthwith verify the sufficiency of the signatures thereto. ... If he finds them sufficient he shall forthwith transmit the same with his report to the Council, which shall take final action thereon within thirty days. (Exhibit 2)

At the April 5, 2000 hearing the defendant’s attorney repeatedly asserted the Tacoma City Clerk, Rick Rosenbladt, found the petitioner’s signatures sufficient and transmitted his report on July 15, 1997 to the Tacoma City Council and Mayor. The defendants further averred they took final action within thirty days from July 15, 1997 by passing an ordinance to do performance audits on August 12, 1997

However, after the April 5 hearing the plaintiff was able to obtain the letter written by the city clerk, Rick Rosenbladt to the “Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council” dated 9 July 1997 “Mandatory Performance Audit” Petitions

The council had 30 days from July 9, 1997 not July 15, 1997 to take final action. The final action should have been taken by August 8, 1997. Yet, the defendants took no final action until four days (12 Aug 97) after the deadline set forth by the city charter. (Exhibit 4)

Tacoma City Charter section 2.20 reads The Council...shall within thirty days fail to take final action thereon, the same shall be submitted to the qualified electors for their approval or rejection at the next general municipal election. (Exhibit 2)

The defendants should have submitted the issue of performance audits to the electorate back in 1997. The defendants have been out of compliance with the city charter since 1997.

Mandamus is not discretionary writ and may be invoked whenever the right exists State ex rel. Brown v. McQuade, 36 Wash.579, 79 P 207(1904); State ex rel. Tar v Everett, 101 Wash. 561, 172 P. 735 (1928), overruled on other grounds, Lopp v. Penninsula Sch. Dist., 90 Wash. 2d 754, 585 P.2d 801; State ex rel. Herman v. Goodsell, 149 Wash. 143, 270 P. 297 (1928).
Writ of mandamus must be issued in all cases where there is not a plain, speedy, and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law. State ex rel. Dahlquist V. Van Wyck, 20 Wash. 39, 54 P. 768 (1898); State ex rel. Hill v. Gardner, 32 Wash. 550, 73 P. 690 (1903); State ex rel. Yeargin v. Maschke, 90 Wash. 249, 155 P. 1064 (1916); State ex rel. Stone v. Superior Court, 97 Wash. 172, 166 P. 69 (1917); State ex rel. Schoenwald v. Superior Court, 189 Wash. 241, 64 P.2d 791 (1937).
Mandamus is appropriate remedy to compel performance if there’s a specific, existing duty which state official violated and continues to violate. Walker v. Munro, 879, P.2d 920, 124 Wash.2d 402 (1994).
Deliberate efforts by a legislative body to circumvent the initiative or referendum rights of an electorate will not be looked upon favorable by the Supreme Court. Citizens for Financially Responsible Government v. City of Spokane, 662 P.2d 845, 99 Wash 2d 337.
WHEREFORE the plaintiff prays: 1. This Honorable Court deny the defendants Motion to Dismiss.
2. That the performance audit issue be submitted to the qualified electors for their approval or rejection at the next municipal election.
3. If not submitted to the electors that the plaintiff requests this matter be set over for a jury trial at the next available court date.
4. The defendants not only bear there own costs, but, also pay for the costs of the plaintiff.
5. If this Honorable Court decides to grant the defendant’s Motion to Dismiss then the Plaintiff requests this Honorable Court provide findings of fact and conclusions of law in it’s decision.
6. The plaintiff requests any judgment she is entitled to under both equity and the law.
Respectfully Submitted, PHYLLIS A. BARRETT (11 April 2000)

The Jig is Up! It is Performance Audit Time.


IN THE SUPERIOR COURT OF WASHINGTON FOR PIERCE COUNTY



PHYLLIS A. BARRETT
NO. 99-2-13892-4
)

Plaintiff,

)

vs.

CITY OF TACOMA, a first class city; BRIAN EBERSOLE, ) Mayor; RAY CORPUZ, City Manager; Robin Jenkinson, City Attorney; ; RICK ROSENBLATT, City Clerk; TACOMA CITY COUNCIL

Defendants.

PLAINTIFF’S REPLY TO DEFENDANT’S REPLY TO PETITIONER’S MOTION TO DISMISS

For almost two years the plaintiff begged the defendants to do performance audits. Plaintiff's pleas fell on deaf ears, therefore, she gathered almost 6,000 signatures on petitions for performance audits.

"The Council shall provide for mandatory performance audits be conducted of the City on its various agencies, departments and programs every three years by an independent audit firm who is in no way connected with the City Government. Any such audits shall be filed with the City Council and shall be open to the public."

Plaintiff submitted these signatures to the Tacoma City Clerk, Rick Rosenbladt on May 30, June 30 and July 7, 1997. Mr. Rosenbladt sent the signatures to the Pierce County Auditor Ms. Cathy Pearsall-Stipek

"Please verify these signatures in accordance with appropriate statues and return the petitions to this office with a written certification of sufficiency as soon as possible."

On July 7, 1997, the Pierce County Auditor sent a letter to Mr. Rosenbladt,

"The election department has completed the validation process for the petition referenced above submitted on May 30, June 30, and July 7, 1997. It was determined that the petition contains the necessary valid signatures. Pursuant to the City of Tacoma charter, 3,726 signatures are required."

Section 2.20 of the Initiative and Referendum of the City Charter states

"The Council may enact or reject any initiative ordinance, but shall not amend or modify the same. If it shall reject any such ordinance or shall within thirty days fail to take final action there on, the same shall be submitted to the qualified electors for their approval or rejection at the next general municipal election occurring not less than 50 days thereafter, under a ballot title prepared therefor by the City Attorney."

From July 7, 1997, the city council had 30 days- til 6 August 1997- to take final action on plaintiff’s petition. The defendants took no final action on plaintiff’s petition therefore by August 6, 1997 the performance audit issue should have been put on the ballot for the citizens to vote on.

To try to circumvent the voters, the city council on July 29,1997 had the first reading of their ordinance for performance audits,

"The Council shall provide for mandatory performance audits be conducted of the City on its various agencies, departments and programs every three years by an independent audit firm who is in no way connected with the City Government. Any such audit shall be filed with the City Council and shall be open to the public."

but, the city council did not vote, take final action, on the ordinance until August 12, 1997 which was six days after the thirty day statute of limitations ran out. The ordinance was not published until 14 August 1997.

The defendants never intended to do performance audits. They did not appoint a performance audit committee. They did not allocate any funds in the budget to pay for performance audits. This was a feeble attempt by the defendants to bypass the initiative process.

"Deliberate efforts by a legislative body to circumvent the initiative or referendum rights of an electorate will not be looked upon favorable by the Supreme Court. Citizens for Financially Responsible Government v. City of Spokane, 662 P.2d 845, 99 Wash 2d 337."

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for relief as follows.

1. At the next general election the defendants will put on as a ballot measure the question: Shall the Council provide for mandatory performance audits be conducted of the City on its various agencies, departments and programs every three years by an independent audit firm who is in no way connected with the City Government. Any such audit shall be filed with the City Council and shall be open to the public.

2. For costs.

3. For attorney fees and

4. For any other relief both in law and in equity that plaintiff may be entitled to.

Respectfully submitted
(24 March 2000)

Readers Beware!

Caution if you have heart medication please have it ready should you chose to proceed. Below are samples of Work Order Charges Reports compiled by Equipment Rental. The reports show the maintenance performed on Tacoma owned vehicles by Equipment Rental. These pages represent the 470 pages of repair reports that I reviewed. The reports cover repairs made from August 99 to October 99.

After conducting a financial audit the state auditor's office declared, "There were no findings related to Equipment Rental of Fleet Services operations."


Washington State Auditor
I made some findings. I trust a performance auditor would second my findings. Read on.

Equipment Rental, a city agency run by city employees, charged the Tacoma Police Department $214.39 to retrieve keys locked in a patrol car and to change the patrol car battery. Having no unit costs for lube, oil and filter the taxpayers through the Tacoma Police Department paid $56.31, $96.38 and larger amounts for the same work.


Tacoma Police Department
Tacoma Police Department

The Tacoma Police Department paid $324.83 for a free battery



Tacoma Police Department charges

Not to be out done the Health Department, a Pierce County Agency paid Equipment Rental $196.60 to fix a flat tire, $116.16 for a lube and oil job, and $30.50 for an emission test. An emission test in the community at that time cost $12.00. The Health Department, also, paid Equipment Rental $242.70 to change a flat tire and $91.50 to check the rear brakes for a grand total of $334.41


Pierce County Health Department
Pierce County Health Department

Last, but, not least we have Planning and Development Services which paid $91.54 for a lube, oil and filter job. Two different cars had an emission test. For one car it cost $33.50 and for the other car it cost $45.20. An emission test at that time would have only cost $12.00 if it had been done in the community.


Tacoma Planning and Development Services

Equipment Rental, a Tacoma "City Agency run by Tacoma employees is the brain child of Ray Corpuz, the Tacoma City manager. The same city manager who doesn't want to have performance audits because he claims the audits are too costly. Never mind we pay $66.50 an hour for financial audits which do not test the reasonableness of purchases, charges to city agencies. (28 Jan 2000)

Did I file suit to force performance audits?

Of course I did. Tacoma's response: they were not being deceitful. They want me to go out and get 3,000 signatures on petitions again so the Tacoma City Council can pass an ordinance they don't intend to implement. Then I can file suit again. What is even more ironic is Judge Bryan Chushcoff has been assigned the case. Who is Judge Bryan Chushcoff? He received over $5,000 in loans from Heidi Horst. Who is Heidi Horst? She is a city attorney! Call this coincidence or could this be why lawyers avoid Pierce County Superior Court like the plague? Stay tuned to see if Judge Bryan Chushcoff will recuse himself so we can get a visiting judge. (14 Jan 2000)

Should I?

I came to Tacoma vowing never to get involved again. See what a child will do for you. Taking on the feds, which I did, is like dealing with a den of thieves. Maybe that is why Tacoma felt so familiar. Tacoma has it's own den of thieves. Below is an example of one of my projects. Now you know why I never wanted to go into a court room again. Attorneys and judges do not want the public to know how easy law can be. Just take out the therefores, thous, pay attentions to the ors and ands and go to to the law to find the elements of proof for your case. What is even more telling about our legal system is the judges refused to grant me attorney fees, but, they gave them to Mary Cazales. They used the arguments in my brief to justify giving Mary $30,000 in legal fees. (See the case below) After my case was "completed" members of a large law firm in Michigan asked for a copy of my briefs. (Apparently, my case was cited in the US Supreme Court.) All I charged them was photocopy fees. I never got paid! The story goes on, but, I won't bore you with the details.

I believe the Tacoma City Council, (with the exception of Dave DeForest), Mayor Ebersole and Tacoma City Manager Ray Corpuz agreed to pass an ordinance for performance audits so they could bypass and thwart the imitative process. They never intended to do performance audits.
  • 1. The city manager stated he was going to form a performance audit committee, but, he never did.
  • 2. The Tacoma City Council allowed the person whose departments would be audited to implement and oversee the performance audits.
  • 3. The ordnance used to alter performance audits for Tacoma was passed after the 1999 election for city council and for the mayor.
  • The city manager, Ray Corpuz, used the excuse an audit would be too costly, yet I did a mini performance audit. I uncovered almost one and one half million dollars in over charges in rental fees, one half million in needless purchases and a potential for abuse of city assets.

    I want this issue, performance audits, to be put before the voters and let them chose if they want performance audits. I have some knowledge of the Pierce County Superior Court.

    Anyone have any helpful hints? (16 December 1999)

    line

    Money Money Where is the Money?

    I have a few questions about Equipment Rental. I forget people don't have my background so I'll first explain terms. Suppose you have a son named Joel. You tell Joey you will buy him his first car for $18,000. In accounting terms the car is considered an asset. You KNOW after 6 years Joey will need to buy a new car. You don't want Joey to get in debt for a new car in 6 years so you plan ahead. Each year for the next 6 years Joey pays you $3,000. You put $3,000 in a savings account. When Joey needs a new car in 6 years he will have $18,000. Not only that, but, since you are such a good parent you have Joey pay you $180 each year for your time and effort. $180. is 8% of the $3,000 Joey pays you each year. Equipment Rental calls the 8% interest. I call the 8% profit. Now, IRS comes along and says you owe us taxes on $3,180. But, you say wait a minute the $3,000 is money I am putting aside to purchase a new car. IRS allows you to call that $3,000 a depreciation expense. You keep track of the depreciation expense in the accumulated depreciation account.

    Equipment Rental buys patrol vehicles. The Tacoma Police Department leases the patrol vehicles. The Equipment Rental Depreciation Schedule lists the asset name (eg radios, cars etc.), the cost of the asset, any depreciation expense paid by the police for the asset for the current year and it lists the accumulated depreciation for the asset. Once an asset is fully depreciated then it is considered no longer useful to the company and a new asset is purchased.

    Tacoma Equipment Rental. Depreciation Schedule

    When I reviewed a similar schedule for the Tacoma Police squad cars. I noticed the police paid twice and sometimes three times as much as Equipment Rental originally paid for the squad cars. When I made this discovery Equipment Rental decided they had a computer "error" and refunded almost one million dollars to the police. (I'll bet there was a lot of prozac sold that week.) The city manager, the city council, the city manager, Equipment Rental and the police did not "discover" the error. I had to find it. Yet, last week the Tacoma City Council and mayor voted not to have performance audits because the city manager feels it is more cost effective to have city agencies audit themselves!

    The Tacoma News Tribune continues to tell readers the city received a seven million dollar one time windfall. That is how Tacoma balanced the budget for this biennium. So I asked the city where they got that windfall. Below is the response

    Tacoma windfall?

    It is important to note that $5,300,000 comes from Equipment Rental

    Below is a Draft Comparative Balance Sheet for Equipment Rental. Current Asset is similar to the money in your check book. Equipment Rental keeps track of the repairs they make on the rental equipment in Current Asset. The Restricted Assets Account is similar to a savings account. That is the account where Equipment Rental keeps the money it is going to use to purchase equipment that has been depreciated. Property, Plant and Equipment are the assets owned by Equipment Rental used by them to do business. Equipment Leased to Others are the cars, radio computers shown in the depreciation schedule.



    What is interesting about this balance sheet is in 1998 the Current Asset was in the hole for ($2,0181,521). Yet, in September 1999 the Current Asset Account had $850,158. That is because Equipment Rental took $3,000,000 from the Restricted Asset Account to bail out its equipment repairs operation. If you look at Equipment Leased to Others it has $28,738,456 in equipment. Yet, $20,071,845 of the equipment is depreciated and needs to be replaced. But, Equipment Rental only has $3,730,231 set aside in the Restrict Asset Account to replace $20,071,845 worth of equipment. Not only that, but, remember on 29 November 1999, Peter Luttropp told me the $5,300,000 one time revenue came from Equipment Rental. WHERE IN EQUIPMENT RENTAL?

    Tacoma City Manager Ray Corpuz said last week Brian Sonntag's State Auditor's Office is independent. Brian Sonntag is from Tacoma. He is running for state auditor again.

    Brian Sonntag

    If you look at the bottom of the letter a copy was sent to the Washington State Auditor's Office. I never contacted the Washington State Auditor's Office to tell them of my inquiries. Stay tuned. I have asked the Wa State Auditor's office for a copy of the audit they last did on Equipment Rental. Today Robert, state auditor's office, paged me. He said they last did an audit in 1998. But, he wouldn't put that in writing. Nor would he put in writing they found NO exceptions! He is waiting for word from his boss as to what he can put in writing. Again, why did Equipment Rental send the state auditor's office a copy of their response to me

    Just because you are paranoid doesn't mean people aren't out to get you. Last time I was looking at Equipment Rental coincidentally there was a murder attempt on my daughter. Coincidentally the Tacoma Police Department would not even take the jacket of the bullet out of the back window of her car. Of course the Tacoma News Tribune kept the attempt quiet. McClatchy looked the other way also. (7 December 1999)

    line

    Denial is not just in Egypt

    The city manager, Ray Corpuz, has an ordinance before the city council to do away with performance audits he wants to SELF-AUDIT. He also wants to give performance bonuses, yet, the city does not do performance evaluations. Tacoma is 14.5 million dollars in the hole while Pierce County is solvent. See what the Tacoma News Tribune has to say about performance audits for Tacoma and then for Pierce County.

    TNT opinion of Tacoma Performance Audits

    TNT opinion on Pierce County Performance Audits

    This has to make you wonder. What is the TNT and Tacoma hiding?

    (21 Nov. 99)

    line

    They are at it again!

    Now the Tacoma Police Department is going to "lease" $6,500 lap top computers from City of Tacoma Fleet Service. Last Tuesday at the Tacoma City Council meeting (2 Nov 99)there were three purchase items on the Tacoma City Council agenda. The lap top purchase was the last item in the resolution. When the clerk came to the lap top s Councilman Paul Miller asked the reading of the remainder of the purchase resolution be waived. That is a little trick the City Council uses so the citizens at home do not know what the city is purchasing. Of course I had to read it to the citizens. When I asked what the terms of the contract would be and what profit is Fleet Service going to make off the Tacoma Police Department. The mayor replied a city employee would get back to me. Just one more broken promise. Without knowing any more then what city employees told them the mayor and city council approved the purchase of $6,500 lap top computers to go in $40,000 patrol cars. (6 Nov 99) line

    Do the City Manager, Mayor and City Council Offices Need a Performance Audit? You be the Judge.

    I will update you on the $50 per diem the city council and mayor claim for work HERE in Tacoma. The claims range mainly from April 98 to May 99. Our councilwomen claimed NO per diem. Dave DeForrest claimed $50 to attend ONE meeting. Councilmen Baarsma and Kirby claimed per diem mostly for the days they went to committee meetings. They claimed $1,400 and $2,450 respectively. But, now for the big hitters. Councilmen Crowley claimed $5,550 and Miller claimed $9,149. Mayor Ebersole claimed $9,600 and our king of per diem Councilman Phelps claimed $9,900. Why did they claim per diem? Councilmen Crowley, Miller, Phelps and Mayor Ebersole claimed per diem to meet with each other,to meet with city staff, to go to neighborhood council meetings, to go to city club meetings, to meet citizens, to meet Gov. Locke in Tacoma etc.! Councilman Phelps additionally claimed $50 per month for “Coffee with Kevin”. The mayor who is paid to represent the city at ceremonial functions claimed $50 per diem to attend ceremonial duties in the Proctor District AND downtown Tacoma. These folks even claimed $50 per diem when they spoke with the Tacoma News Tribune. I asked the TNT to only interview the mayor and council on Tuesdays to save the taxpayers a few $50. On 30 April 99, the city manager brought the mayor to Stanley and Seafort’s. Corpuz paid for his lunch AND for the mayor’s lunch. Corpuz claimed the mileage and $30.53 for the TWO lunches as EXPENSES on his expense account. The mayor claimed $50 for this same day, for among other things to attend a MEETING WITH RAY CORPUZ. There were $38,099 worth of per diem claims since April 98.
    Brian Ebersole per diem request (14 July 99)

    line

    Where are Tacoma Performance Audits?

    In December 1998 Tacoma City Manager, Ray Corpuz, announced Tacoma would have a performance audit committee. As of July 99 no one has been selected to be on the committee. Since Corpuz is responsible for Tacoma's day to day operation could he be dragging his heels? Below is a letter Corpuz sent me about the "progress" of performance audits.
    Corpuz letterCorpuz letter
    The library has a board that directed it do performance audits. Corpuz had nothing to do the implementation of the library performance audit. For whatever reason, the Tacoma News Tribune(TNT) does not believe Tacoma should have performance audits. Do they have reason to fear performance audits for Tacoma?
    Yet, the TNT endorses performance audits for Pierce county. Pierce County's performance audit found it was NOT cost effective to bring county cars home. At the same time, Corpuz purchased $40,000 FULL SIZED patrol cars to add to the police fleet so each police officer has a patrol car to bring home. There are NO controls to ensure the police cars are NOT used for extracurricular activities. Not only that, but, the police "lease" the cars from another city agency, Fleet Management. The "profit" is used by Corpuz to fund pet projects.(5 July 99)

    line

    Performance Audit Committee To Be Formed

    I spent eight months obtaining almost 6,000 signatures on petitions to get performance audits for Tacoma. Rather then allowing the issue to go on the ballot the Tacoma city council passed an ordinance to do the audits. The ordinance was passed in Sept 97. The News Tribune made scant mention of the requirement for city performance audits. We now have a new two year budget being considered by the city, yet, no performance audits have been done. It will again be a case of he said-she said. I am taking any and all bets as to whether I will be chosen to be on the Performance Audit Committee.(11/24/98)

    line

    Cost Studies Tacoma Style

    Bruce Mann (University of Pudget Sound) and his associates did An Assigned Vehicle Program: Assessment of the Benefits and Costs on bringing Tacoma Police Department cars home.

    I have some questions as to the accuracy of the $24,000+ study. The auditor allowed the Tacoma Police Department to pick which officer?s vehicles would be studied rather than using a random sampling table. A listing of the residences of most of the TPD officers show some live in Eatonville, Kent, Fox Island, Buckley, Ellensberg etc., yet, the TPD only picked officers who lived in Gig Harbor and Spanaway for this study.

    Fleet management advised the auditors that “...on average patrol vehicles are removed from the patrol fleet at 89,000 miles.” The auditor than calculated “Thus the average pool patrol vehicle remains in service for four years.”... “The average assigned vehicle would remain in service for 7.25 years.” ...”For accounting and analytical convenience an eight year program life-cycle was adopted.” I would suggest 7.25 should be rounded down to 7 not up to 8. A memo from the police department shows TPD vehicles are retired after 3 and 6 years regardless of mileage.

    I combined two listings I obtained from Fleet Management of vehicles they sold, the mileage at sale and the year sold. The mean and mode mileage averages are well below 89,000. Only 12 % of the vehicles had mileage 89,000 or above.

    The pool vehicles studied didn’t even remotely match the assigned vehicles. They compared one year old cars versus three year old cars. The makes and models weren’t even the same.

    This independent auditor in Mar 97 wrote a paper with Tacoma Councilman Baarsma on “The efficacy of an Assigned Vehicle Program for Reducing Crime: A cost-Benefit Decision." The study was completed May 98.

    With all the erroneous figures they still couldn’t prove it was cost effective to bring the cars out of Tacoma and it is questionable if it is cost effective to bring cars home in Tacoma.

    Wonder why the newspaper clamored for the Pierce County performance audit yet the are silent on this study? Wonder why the News Tribune isn’t clamoring for performance audits by truly independent auditors for Tacoma? Are they afraid all the free advertising dollars given to Tacoma will go down the tubes? Why is everyone afraid of a truly independent audit? What are they hiding?(6 AUG 98)

    Performance Audits Tacoma Style

    Tacoma has finally agreed it needs to do performance audits, but, it wants to gather all the data and give it to the auditors. This is the same city that allows vendors to keep city purchasing documentation then tells citizens that since the vendor has kept the documentation the citizen can't see it. In one case, the Tacoma Police Department can't account for the disposition of 427 hand guns nor does it want to explain. This is the city which denied release of criminal documentation stating the suspects were juvenile suspects. Yet, one juvenile suspect was born in l943 and another juvenile suspect was born in l954. This is the city who gives non-profits eg Safe Streets money to sub contract out services. The non-profits then tell citizens they don't have a right to see what se