A little Island Transit update…
First tomorrow at 0900 hours at the Island Transit Operations & Administration Building, 19758 SR 20, Coupeville will be a monthly Island Transit Board Meeting. According to the meeting agenda, there will be public comment specifically on the Transit Development Plan and then general public comment on other items. I have placed a request for the meeting audio from Island Transit before the close of business tomorrow – and have friends who might get some video as I have a bum right ankle to heal.
First and a half, I have read Island Transit Executive Director Martha Rose’s letter to Island Transit Board Members. In Exec Director Martha Rose’s letter, she references the fact Paratransit will be stressed in South Whidbey and Island Transit “will be applying for a Consolidated Operating Grant so that we can get back to health financially. The applications are due into WSDOT by mid-November of this year. Awarded funds will be available effective July 1st of 2015.” I’m sure the comments below on that application will be interesting… Mrs. Rose also said she expected a large crowd. Island Transit Boardmember Jim Campbell also publicly wanted to have former Island Transit financial advisor Barbara Savory speak to the Island Transit Board. Again, I’m truly sorry I cannot attend as I will be writing Saturday evening an editorial for Sunday morning on this Island Transit mess.
Second, in the past two weeks, several disturbing pieces of intelligence have came to my attention. Been holding back not wanting to fixate on Island Transit.
- On July 31st, State Senators Barbara Bailey and Curtis King wrote the State Auditor’s Office to give tasking to the upcoming audit. They reference an anonymous whistleblower letter full of rumor and innuendo plus a South Whidbey Record news report. State Senator Bailey then goes on to say in a press release, “This is indicative of larger issues in our transportation system, where there is a complete lack of transparency and accountability. That is why I have asked the state auditor to perform an audit as soon as possible. In recent years, the state has provided over $9 million to Island Transit and the public must be assured that those funds are being used responsibly.” In other words: Island Transit’s problems could be used to smear public transit systems in general.
- On August 12th, the Stanwood-Camano News reported, “Martha Rose, executive director of Island Transit, said she “absolutely will not resign,” despite allegations of mismanagement and calls that she step down.” Island County Commissioner Jill Johnson said to the reporter seeking a statement on Island Transit like her two colleagues gave back on 4 August, “We’re hearing about a culture that does not allow scrutiny. I’m disappointed and disillusioned by the apparent lack of transparency. It matters to a lot of people, and no personality is more important than that system.” To tip my hand a bit about the aforementioned editorial… I agree with Island County Commish Helen Price-Johnson: “This is the public’s transit system … The public deserves a sustainable and dependable level of service and to have the credibility of Island Transit restored.”
- On August 19th, the Stanwood-Camano News reported on the ongoing State Auditor’s Office audit of Island Transit seeking to “find where $3 million of Island Transit’s reserves went and, more importantly, why no one allegedly knew the money was disappearing.” State Auditor Troy Kelley is in receipt of multiple state legislator letters on this audit and wrote back he’d look into questions about, “whether funds were illegally or improperly used; whether there was adequate oversight from Rose and the board; whether aspects of the new facility are excessive in the context of and other comparable facilities; whether travel funds were used improperly; whether the agency is failing to maintain and update its fleet.” Finally another tip of the editorialist hand in that I concur with Island County Commish Jill Johnson, “If you’re cutting routes because you can’t cover the operating expenses, and now you’re in debt on top of that, how are you going to be able to afford it in a year?” (When Seattle Transit Blog gets a copy of all the letters, will post here.)