Fri, Sep 17, 2021
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Willapa Harbor Herald
Lewis County News
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(360) 942-3466 • PO Box 706, Raymond, WA 98577

Swanson Helped Expose Culture of Near Corruption at PUD #2

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We need more transparency, not less, at our Public Utility District #2. The candidate for PUD #2 Commissioner Position #1, running against current commissioner Mike Swanson, has been hand-picked by the Chief Engineer of PUD #2, as the Chief Engineer is in line to become the next General Manager when the current General Manager, Doug Miller, retires and moves onto another choice, kush assignment for which he has reportedly been tapped. We have seen how this works with our former County Commissioner Chair.

Commissioner Mike Swanson, along with others, exposed a culture of near corruption within the management ranks at PUD #2, which has existed for a good number of years, by his efforts to be truthful to the ratepayers and asking really tough questions, such as: staff salaries, project expenditures, etc. His actions have been virtually silenced by the current board by essentially turning a blind eye to the allegations and not committing to a thorough investigation of past activities of wrongdoing. His opponent tells us that the whole problem at PUD #2 is all Commissioner Swanson's fault, as he has raised these old dead issues, of which he claims have no basis.

The Tokeland Project has already cost the ratepayers of Pacific County hundreds of thousands of dollars, as equipment for this project was previously purchased and has been sitting in storage for several years. Land has been purchased for a new substation in the Tokeland area at an overly inflated price. The costs for the extension of service to the Tokeland area will be borne by us, the existing ratepayers, as the Grayland-Tokeland area residents will not be asked to pay for this extension. This condition is in total conflict with what we, as ratepayers, are asked to do on a daily basis. Buried line extensions, to the meter, are paid for by the subscriber. This then becomes part of the physical property of the utility and goes into the rate base.

The new Fiber Network, which has been deployed all over the county, essentially has been paid for by the ratepayers. This network has been highly overbuilt with hundreds of dedicated fibers, which will never be used. There have been no financial disclosures regarding this project. Whenever the question comes up about how this project has been financed, the answer is always some mumble-jumble about NOAA-Net, but I seriously doubt it!

To my knowledge, there has never been a bill or expenditure paid for or authorized by the PUD Board in a public session. "This is the people's business." These actions take place behind closed doors where the public has no opportunity to comment or witness such activities. There is never any financial document presented at the PUD's bi-monthly board meetings, such as budget to date, for review by the public. This, I suspect, is how all of this wrongdoing flies under the radar.

My support is for Commissioner-Elect Mike Swanson, as he has our best interests at heart. We need new leadership at PUD#2, and this is the place to start. Send Commissioner Swanson back into action.

We need to put the "Public" back in Public Utility District.



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