City-YMCA deal was sole-source, no-bid contract, no Requests for Proposals issued

By Scott Hamilton

Analysis

Sept. 16, 2019: The agreement between Sammamish and the YMCA for the latter to run the community center was the result of a sole-source, no-bid contract.

No Request for Proposals was issued that would compete management of the center.

The contract between Sammamish and the YMCA was a sole-source, no-bid arrangement. No Requests for Proposals were issued. A Sammamish businessman wanted to bid. City of Sammamish photo.

An offer by a Sammamish health club owner to submit a bid that would return 15% of the gross receipts to the city didn’t even get a hearing.

One of the leading advocates throughout the years for the YMCA was a city council member who also sat on the YMCA board, a clear conflict of interest that was ignore by the city administration and a successive series of city councils. (This member was off the council in 2012-13, when the votes were held.)

The YMCA was fundamentally the only entity supported by the city for nearly a decade before a contract was negotiated.

These lie at the roots of the current controversial examination of the city’s management contract with the YMCA that sees the agency siphoning off $1.4m a year to the Greater Seattle YMCA rather than keeping the money in Sammamish or sharing the profits with the city’s general fund.

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Financial statements show Seattle YMCA siphons at least $1.4m annually from Sammamish

SAMM_LocationThe Sammamish Community Center, a $33m facility funded with $28m of  Sammamish taxpayers’ money and operated exclusively by the Y, generated at least $1.4m in surplus that is being sent to Seattle Y, raising questions regarding accounting methods.

The Community Center exceeded all expectations set forth in the city’s original plan.  The city thought the Community Center will attract 1,750 members, with a monthly membership rates for a family at $68.  In reality, more than 5,700 memberships were sold, with monthly membership rates for a family at $138.

The difference is sent to Seattle, although it supposed to stay in Sammamish.

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“Greenwashing” in Sammamish: A Special Report

  1. Greenwashing (a compound word modeled on “whitewash”), or “green sheen,” is a form of spin in which green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization’s products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.–Wikipedia.

Since the 2003 Sammamish City Council election, in which environmental-leaning candidates swept the election, the Council prided itself on pursuing “green” policies and ordinances.

The City Manager was far less gun-ho, often lagging his own staff, especially when it came to a concept called Low Impact Development, or LID (not to be confused with Local Improvement Districts, also LID, a special tax option–so context of “LID” is always important to understand).

The current Council is comprised of what would ordinarily considered to be environmentalists. Of the seven, only Member Don Gerend leans “development” over the environment–or so its appears. Tom Odell and Bob Keller proved to have strong environmental credentials. Ramiro Valderrama evolved into a strong backing of the environment. Deputy Mayor Kathy Huckabay and Mayor Tom Vance not only consider themselves environmentalists but have an historical track record supporting this.

Image via Google Images. Click on image to enlarge.

Without question the leading environmentalist on the Council is three-term incumbent Nancy Whitten, who decided to retire at the end of this year. And Whitten has been increasingly critical of the collective Council’s direction on a number of environmental issues over the past four years.

While “greenwashing” isn’t the term that comes to the top of the conversation with Whitten, she didn’t disagree with its use when it comes to how Sammamish approaches the environment now. And she’s especially critical of Vance’s evolution away from his historical green leanings.

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Community Center already over budget: first estimate

The Sammamish Community Center is already $2 million over budget, according to the first estimate to come into the City.

Voters approved a $30 million project in an advisory vote last November.

The Sammamish Review revealed the overage in its article reporting that Don Gerend will seek another term. The reference is short and it’s buried but it’s there.

Sammamish and “the vision thing”

In 1987, Vice President George H. W. Bush was gearing up to run for president. The Vice President was well known for mangling his syntax (like father, like son, as it turned out) and often had difficulty articulating his thoughts (as we said…).

This inability led to his famous characterization of “the vision thing.”

Sammamish has a Vision Thing problem.

First, it must be acknowledged that governments in general typically lack vision. Out of necessity, days are consumed with simply running things and fixing day-to-day problems. But Sammamish, since its inception, has had trouble with “vision.”

I’ll concede that the City has looked into the future and taken some steps on this or that. But action often becomes years in the making and vision, if it is recognized at all, often becomes inaction.

The greatest example is the Community Center. Consider:

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