PUD Commissioners challenged to investigate inquiry

By GEORGE KUNKE


 Editor’s Note: A small group of citizens have accused the Public Utility District No. 2 of Pacific County (PUD) with improprieties. Following is a recent interview with Pat Myers about his claim of a cover-up conspiracy with the top levels of management at the PUD involving the misuse of a man-lift. Here is what Myers had to say:

 

"In the first meeting that I attended, in March, I showed the commissioners and the general manager a photo of the wreck and asked if any of them were aware of it. They all denied knowledge of it. Then I asked them a series of pointed questions that I thought would prompt the commissioner to start their own investigation of this issue.

"At the second meeting that I attended in April, the general manager addressed the questions that I had asked of the commissioners in the previous meeting. He told a story about how the wreck came about and that he paid an insurance premium of $1,147.64 for the damage to the wrecked man-lift. He reported that the PUD had rented the equipment for a job in Oysterville. Also, in his accounting of when and how the man-lift was rented, he said that it was picked up at s PUD employee’s house and that the man-lift was wrecked while still on the employee’s property as it was being trailered to PUD’s yard. At this point there would have been no time recorded on the man-lift’s hour gauge, as the PUD had not yet used it.

"At the third meeting several weeks ago, I stood up and gave the commissioners a copy of the rental invoice between PUD and United Rentals for the man-lift and Herald editor George Kunke had dug up a couple years earlier. Then I asked the commissioners if they condoned the use of PUD equipment by employees for personal use. Commissioners Mike Swanson and Diana Thompson immediately responded with a definitive no. It took my pushing the question again to get a response from commissioner Ron Hatfield, who then offered a defiant and reluctant no. I explained to them that the invoice showed that PUD had actually rented the man-lift seven days earlier than what the general manager had reported at the second meeting. As well, on the day that the man-lift was wrecked, there had already been 25.9 hours put on the hour gauge of the man-lift. This would suggest that the man-lift had been used in those seven days. The invoice showed that the insurance option that the rental company offered to PUD had been declined by PUD. That means that if any damage came to the equipment PUD would be responsible financially for the damage. And the most damning information on the invoice was the rental charge of $1,147.64. This number was reported by the general manager in April’s meeting as being an insurance premium payment when, in-fact, it was the rental charge.

"I then gave the commissioners my theory on what had happened. I told them that I believed that the man-lift was never intended to be used in Oysterville.  After all, why would the

equipment be rented from United Rentals in Seaside, Oregon and delivered to the PUD yard in Raymond just to be moved back down to Oysterville…why not just deliver directly to Oysterville? It is my theory that the equipment was rented by a PUD employee for his personal use at his home where he put 25.9 hours on it before the equipment was wrecked and ultimately totaled. It is my theory that the PUD and it’s ratepayers paid $1147.64 in rental fees and and up to $40,000 or so in damages for this equipment. I suggested to the commissioners that there is a conspiracy to cover up this incident and that it started at the time of the incident and that it continues to this day.

"Regarding the financial responsibility for any damages to the man-lift, one of the members of the team that I have been working with had spoken with United Rentals prior to this meeting and he discovered that United Rentals had presented PUD with a Risk Assessment Report, which basically conveys to PUD how much the damage is and how much PUD has to pay them for the damage. United Rentals told him that PUD would have to give them permission to release that report to us and that PUD has the report.

"Finally, I told the commissioners that the Risk Assessment Report was in the files at PUD and asked them to release it to me. I contend that somewhere in the PUD files there is record of a check that has been written to United Rentals that may be as high as $40,000 or so for damages incurred to a piece equipment that was rented by PUD for personal use.

"In light of all of the research that has been done and the data collected, I contend that the documentation does not support the story that the PUD is telling.  As of this interview, no commissioner has contacted me with that report or with the permission for United Rentals to release it to me. At the start of all this, my intention was to give the commissioners enough information to want to conduct an internal investigation on their own.  To this date, my team, nor I, have ever received a call from any of the commissioners to look at our team’s research.

"As for the commissioners,  I believe that there are two of the three that are open-minded enough to ultimately see through the smoke screen and will see the truth.  And there is one that is absolutely blindly faithful to the management no matter the issue at hand.

"Unfortunately, at this point it is because of the commissioners lack of action that our team has contacted the Washington State Attorney General and the Washington State Auditor...  and they are interested."