City Council needs to examine contract policies | Letter to the editor

Our fine little city seemingly cruises along with grace and determination without much attention given to deadheads in the water. Yet it’s contracting with a selected group of contractors who seemingly have open-ended contracts. Just one example, which may be the exception, has been amended three times to the tune of a 42 percent cost overrun. If you’ll notice, all contract supplemental agenda items brought before the City Council are for more dollars to cover cost overruns or add-ons, and there are quite a few. Just because fewer dollars are bid on a contract than are allocated by the council, doesn’t mean the contractor is entitled to some or all those dollars for his/her oversight or poor performance. Such dollars should be treated with the same degree of fiduciary oversight as a new allocation.

The city needs to look at how it contracts and carefully write its contracts with clauses that penalize contractors for poor performance and rewards them for good performance (incentive contracting) as a means of reducing costs (and taxes) and stop this seemingly open ended contracting. The city’s contracting process needs scrutiny and wire brushing to cure some apparent ills that have crept into its overall process and immediate action is warranted. Hopefully the city has a manual full of contract writing directions with clauses, terms and conditions, incentives,penalties for poor performance, etc. More expertise in contracting would be an asset to the council.

Several issues appear to need a public hearing in the Council Chamber with the varnish off the subjects and nothing but the facts. (All we’ve heard so far are sales pitches). The council could send out a mailer questionnaire on these issues to determine if their constituents want such hearings. They include: 1, contracts; 2, sanctuary city; 3, retail pot; 4, two-lane Tukwila International Boulevard; 5, water resources; and 6, the number of new fire stations (SeaTac is eliminating Fire Station 47).

By its very nature the council has a tin ear on policy issues, and a single voice is lucky to get even an echo. But with many voices the council listens, and it needs to hear from its constituents on these big issues. Our council does a creditable overall job but needs to visit or revisit these extraordinary issues.

A new council and a new year is fast approaching, and it’s time for some tough New Year’s resolutions in city government, which are needed and some say overdue in fulfillment of council fiduciary responsibilities. Of course, Dennis Martinez’s addition to the council would bring contract expertise, a voice for Latinos, great ideas to revitalize the trades and much more. He has my vote and hopefully yours, too. So be sure to cast your vote on Nov. 7.

– Bill Holstine


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