At the May Hospital District meeting, Vic applied to replace Robin Nault on the commission. He was not selected. Outgoing superintendent Elaine Komusi explained, "I think the deciding factor, when we were talking through qualifications, is that there is some damaged trust and that there is this association with a publication that is in opposition to our organization and that has damaged the trust and feel that it has probably damaged the trust of the community, Unity Care, and the clinic, and that might impact our success as a commission because of that. So that was part of the conversation there."
So what did we do that caused so much "damaged trust"?
We started recording the Hospital District meetings so no one could misrepresent what we said at these meetings with impunity. Likewise, the Fire Commissioners started recording and posting videos of their own meetings so no one could misrepresent what was said at those meetings either. That's also why we post our Hospital District videos on our YouTube channel. If the Hospital District objected to this, and actually wanted to be transparent, they would record and post their own meetings.
Over the last year Elaine Komusi, former Hospital District Commissioner Robin Nault, and current Hospital District Commissioner Kandy Harper have taken repeated exception to our attending their meetings. One way they've expressed this is by listing Shannon as “Shannon Tomsen, Fire District Commissioner” in their official meeting minutes even after she repeatedly told them she was attending as a private citizen. This year, now that she is no longer a Fire Commissioner, this is what they're doing:
Former Hospital District Commissioner Robin Nault attended almost all of the Fire District meetings in 2017. The Fire District minutes did not identify her as a Hospital District commissioner, and the Fire District did not make her sign in. In fact, no other local district does.
Almost every transcript we've published has been to demonstrate that the All Point Bulletin misrepresented what was said or who said it, omitted significant information of public interest, or applied very different standards to the Hospital and Fire districts. We've published the literal transcripts to show that the APB accounts were misleading, and posted the videos to prove it. If the Hospital District objects to that, perhaps it's because they're embarrassed by their own words or actions. If they were proud of their work, they would invite interest in it rather than vilifying us for shining a light on it.
No one audits the Hospital District's finances. The county does not audit taxing districts. The state only audits some of the basic administrative functions of small districts. We thought someone should audit their finances, so we tried to.
Until we forced them to, they did not post their minutes or agendas on their web site. They still do not post their budget and what’s worse, they will not explain their budget.
It's worth noting that Pat Grubb has submitted three records requests to the Fire District since 2012. The latest one covered Shannon's entire tenure at the Fire District. Two private citizens have also filed records requests to the Fire District during that time.
Actually, the responsibility to be trustworthy falls on the public officials. This is from the Washington State Office of the Attorney General Open Government main web page:
"Government accountability means that public officials — elected and un-elected — have an obligation to explain their decisions and actions to the citizens. Government accountability is achieved through the use of a variety of mechanisms — political, legal and administrative — designed to prevent corruption and ensure that public officials remain answerable and accessible to the people they serve. In the absence of such mechanisms, corruption may thrive. — U.S. Department of State
"The Washington Public Records Act is one of the strongest open government laws in the nation and reflects the desire of Washington citizens to know what their government is doing. A transparent and accessible government is essential to a successful free society, and fosters trust and confidence in government. Strong “sunshine laws” are crucial to assuring government accountability and transparency. In Washington State, those laws provide for open public records and open public meetings."
How has the Hospital District violated the public trust? This is our current list:
So to summarize, we attend and record their meetings, publish transcripts, and try to understand their finances. And somehow that has "damaged the trust of the community, Unity Care, and the clinic"?
In his interview to replace Robin Nault, Vic said that he wanted the Hospital District to be forward looking, optimistic, and collaborative. The district today is closed, territorial, and defensive. They regard oversight and opportunities for collaboration as threats. We hope the new superintendent and new commissioner can steer the district in a more positive direction.
Had I been selected, I would have:
My objective would have been an organization that was worthy of the public's trust, but transparent enough to not have to demand that trust.
When Elaine Komusi announced her resignation as district superintendent, we published the full transcripts of her remarks and those of Unity Care COO Shanon Hardie. In contrast, the APB's article about the meeting didn't even mention that Unity Care was present. You can find our analysis of that article here.
After the Fire District denied the Hospital District's proposed sign for Unity Care, the APB ran a story about it after seeking comments from the Hospital District. They seemed pleased with it:
Following their long tradition of only representing one side of a controversy, the APB did not even seek comment from the Fire District.
So who will you trust: the All Point Bulletin with its ads and agendas, or the Small Point Bulletin?
At least we show our work. You can see for yourself who's trustworthy.
New comic every Monday