Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

NOTICE: Political Buzz has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Political Buzz.
Visit the new section.

Councilwoman: Don’t question pavilion funding

Post by Lewis Kamb / The News Tribune on Feb. 15, 2011 at 6:02 pm with 19 Comments »
February 16, 2011 9:38 am

After raising concerns last week about ballooning costs to construct a gifted pavilion from China, the Tacoma City Council tonight unanimously approved an extra $250,000 to cover contractor fees for completing the job.

The move came less than two hours after this afternoon’s emotional council discussion during which at least two council members criticized their colleagues for questioning how to pay cost overruns for the 20-foot tall pavilion – what will be a key feature in the city’s new Chinese Reconciliation Park on the Commencement Bay waterfront.

“Listening to us quibble about money … I felt ashamed to be a leader of this community,” an at times angry and crying Lauren Walker told fellow council members during an afternoon Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday. “We need to support this project.”

But several council members who questioned the project’s additional costs last week responded by explaining their concerns had nothing to do with supporting the Chinese “ting” – a gift from Tacoma’s sister city of Fouzhou, China.

Rather, they said, they were concerned about the details of a purchase resolution hastily placed on last week’s agenda by City Manager Eric Anderson that requested the council divert funds from a highway project to cover the pavilion’s added costs.

“For me, it was about transparency and knowing where the money was coming from,” said Councilman Jake Fey. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask.”

The city originally planned to spend $100,000 to lay a concrete pad and for other installation costs for the prefabricated pavilion, shipped to the city from Fouzhou late last year. In all, costs to construct the pavilion have now mounted to at least $600,000.

The council’s approval Tuesday included using an additional $250,000 from city match money set aside for a yet-to-be funded State Route 509 slip ramp project. Anderson said Tuesday he felt comfortable diverting those funds because he doesn’t expect the needed $8 million in federal grants for the highway project will come through anytime within the next two years. Anderson noted Tuesday that $150,000 of city match money still remains earmarked for the highway ramp project.

This is the second time Anderson and his public works staff have asked the council to dip into other funds to cover a bigger price tag for the pavilion. In November, after a smaller than expected delegation from Fouzhou came to Tacoma to supervise construction, the council approved using $200,000 of Public Works Department’s general fund monies and another $150,000 from the city’s open space fund for the project.

City public works staff returned to the council again last week, saying the costs had since ballooned because the construction schedule provided by the Fouzhou team proved to be far too aggressive for what became a far more complicated project than first thought.

The contractor, Clements Brothers Inc., already had been working on other parts of the city’s new 3.9 acre Chinese Reconciliation Park, constructed to educate and heal old wounds from the city’s expulsion of 200 Chinese immigrants in 1885.

The purchase resolution’s late addition to last week’s agenda clearly irked and confused some council members, who delayed approval for a week so they could analyze funding sources being used to cover the overruns.

“What I was most concerned about was funding being removed (from another project) without explanation,” Councilman Ryan Mello said today.

Councilman Marty Campbell, who asked for the delay, said he was caught off guard by the requested diversion of funds from the SR 509 project, in part because he was on the verge of asking the Puyallup Nation to contribute significantly to the very same project.

“Never once was this about not funding the ting,” Campbell said of his move to delay the vote.

Walker, who likened the matter to a family crisis, told her fellow council members before Tuesday’s council meeting that she hoped for a quick approval of the construction funding.

“I think it’s time to vote this thing forward and to have a moment of silence afterward,” she said.

Councilman Spiro Manthou agreed.

“To me, it was too important of a project to question where the funding was coming from,” Manthou said. “I think it’s a disgrace we questioned it.”

The pavilion is expected to open to the public in April.

Leave a comment Comments → 19
  1. uratroll says:

    Thank goodness our elected officials understand priorities. I suppose I can wait for my street to be fixed…lol! Now should I buy that flat screen so the neighbors can watch it from their window or fix my car’s suspension so I can continue to go to work? Decisions-decisions…

  2. srvivinglife says:

    Since there’s money for this,,,,,,can my neighborhood PLEASE have it’s library back???!!!!!

  3. tree_guy says:

    “I felt ashamed to be a leader of this community,” an at times angry and crying Lauren Walker told fellow council members during an afternoon Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday.”

    There’s plenty of shame to go around. I’m ashamed the council can’t adhere to a budget nor can they properly prioritize the limited funds available. Since the tears paid off, I imagine we’ll be seeing many more occasions where reasoned decision making is replaced with crying jags.

  4. gerry0416 says:

    Unbelievable!!!!!!

  5. You the voters in Tacoma elected this council. The council chose the city manager. When they wrote the contract who was to pick up the tab for cost overruns? Mariner stadium had significant cost overruns and those cost were born by the baseball club because that is how the contract was written. Yes the club tried to weasel out or their oblicagations but the ultimately paid for thes costs.

    You have a contract this is WA state the responsible party pays. What’s the beef.

  6. Votetherock says:

    So first off I guess Tacoma City Council has it’s own money tree growing somewhere! OMG! This is the big disease that runs rampant at all levels of government: “To me, it was too important of a project to question where the funding was coming from,” Manthou said. Money must grow on trees because I don’t care where it comes from!!

    Okay now onto Ms. Crying Councilwoman. Seems as if this is a new government mandate? However She Pulls off a nice ‘Dale Washam’ by this display of emotion: “I think it’s time to vote this thing forward and to have a moment of silence afterward,” she said.

    Now I want to know when are we gonna recall her for such a display at a city meeting? How can we allow this behavior to be acceptable? It makes for a really bad working environment, don’t you know?

    !
    Read more: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/politics/2011/02/15/councilwoman-dont-question-pavilion-funding/#ixzz1E5YYHPrp

  7. tree_guy says:

    The Reconciliation Park is supposed to be an acknowledgement that back in 1880 our city leaders disgraced themselves.

    Flash forward to 2011. Now our enlightened city leaders throw hysterical hissy fits if they don’t get their way.

    What have we learned?

  8. thewestside says:

    “Listening to us quibble about money” says a angry and crying Lauren Walker.
    Why don’t you open your check book and fund this project Lauren.
    Are you aware the taxpayers are funding this ” black hole”?

    By the way how was the contractor selected for this project?

  9. BigSwingingRichard says:

    This is one expensive gift.

    Hopefully the Chinese won’t give us anything else: we can’t afford to be so lucky.

  10. BigSwingingRichard says:

    Here’s an idea. Hows about we have the City Council members mount a digital billboard onto the side of this sinkhole, at least until it earns enough to repay the taxpayers.

    It’s the taxpayers who should be crying over this fiasco, not some emotionally questionable counsel woman.

  11. The Citizens of Tacoma should be oh so proud to have this dysfunctional council! These folks are certainly in their positions to ask the electorate to keep bending over like red rover and send wally right over. Unbelievable the way these brain dead souls think.

  12. “Listening to us quibble about money … I felt ashamed to be a leader of this community,”

    Gosh Lauren, if you really feel that way I have a favor to ask………….. would you please pay my ridiculously high property taxes for me?

  13. Alison7613 says:

    I am glad I am not a city councilperson. What a nightmare this is!

  14. RetiredContractor says:

    “Chinese Reconciliation Park, constructed to educate and heal old wounds from the city’s expulsion of 200 Chinese immigrants in 1885″.

    There is no one left from 1885 and if not for the newspaper dredging it up no one would remember and there would be no old wounds to heal. Quit picking at the scab. I understand knowing history but do so with some common sense.

  15. lovethemountains says:

    And I thought all the fruit cakes were gone after the holidays.

  16. rampoloparent says:

    Lauren, it is my money also. Did you ask me? Maybe you could just spend you own money!

  17. Pecksbadboy says:

    Ms. Walker wants to legalize marijuana too, maybe we can set up a $600,000 city owned store in the pagoda. Oh wait, maybe Opium would be better

  18. nokoolaide says:

    Ashamed to be a community leader? Not half as ashamed as I am. How did this hack ever get elected?

  19. People need to ask themselves: What has a conceptual slip ramp done for ME lately?

    Finishing this bloody park will scrub our past sins and ‘get us right with god’

    Good Karma.

*
We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0