9/11 Memorial Committee response

In response to today’s story about the 9/11 Memorial Committee, Bremerton City Councilman Jim McDonald sent this note out to the folks you see listed here.

From: Jim McDonald
Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2011 9:21 AM
To: City Council; Mayor Lent; Wyn Birkenthal
Cc: Dave Fergus; Roy Lusk
Subject: 9-11 Committee Update

Based on the recent press regarding the 9-11 Memorial Committee, I wanted to give you an update from the last report where I discussed the resignations.

First of all, I was shocked and disappointed to see the accusations in the Kitsap Sun this morning by the former committee members. The remaining committee volunteers continue to do incredible things and expend a ton of their own time and money to this cause. You only need to look back to the 10-year anniversary event last month to see the types of things this group can accomplish.

As the committee has grown and collected more funds, they have taken steps to improve the organization. Earlier this year (or late last year) the committee had been in contact with a CPA for assistance. The current treasurer has been working with the CPA to review the committee procedures. While the committee already had some good financial controls in place (like two people required to sign checks), they are also moving to improve the financial reporting by migrating from a notebook with receipts and bank statements to QuickBooks. This will allow for easier reporting and monthly reconciliation. By the time this is completed, they will have financial controls better than most non-profit organizations.

While the focus the last couple of months has been on the successful Memorial and Groundbreaking ceremonies, Dave Fergus and Wyn Birkenthal have been recently discussing the process to arrive at the final design. I expect that effort to begin shortly. Once complete, I also expect that much of the labor and material needed for the Memorial will come from in-kind donations. For example, the trucking company that has been moving the two World Trade Center beams to all the events and parades has done it all for no charge. All the chairs and most of the cost for the expensive sound system were donated for the Memorial ceremony. Proceeds from concessions were donated to the Committee. The list of community support goes on and on.

Since the resignation of the committee members, there have been more people attending the committee meetings and there have been more volunteers. In fact, at last night’s 9-11 committee meeting, we had a lot of the volunteers join the committee with comments that a lot more folks would like to be on the committee. To keep the organization from getting too big too fast, the committee passed a motion to limit the current size of the committee to 30 members.

I remain totally convinced that this organization will complete the Memorial. The organization is filled with people with integrity and who remain extremely dedicated and passionate about this cause. As the City Council appointee to 9-11 Memorial Committee, I am very proud to be associated with this group. Please feel free to attend a committee meeting and see for yourself.

R,

Jim McDonald
Bremerton City Council
District 1

9 thoughts on “9/11 Memorial Committee response

  1. Jim, you were not shocked. Many people involved in all of this brought their concerns to multiple memorial committee meetings and to you directly and personally. You simply chose not to accept those concerns for what they were nor did you attempt to do anything about it. That is on you and will always be on you.

    I would like to thank you for clarifying your position and showing everyone that you have clearly crossed that very seductive line between being a good elected community steward and have instead crossed over to being a hard core spin career focused politician.

    Good luck in the next election.

  2. “By the time this is completed, they will have financial controls better than most non-profit organizations.”

    I pretty much stopped reading this whitewash job right here. When you don’t know when the CPA was called in (beyond “earlier this year or maybe last year”), you’re not increasing my confidence that the committee is moving in the right direction. When you make hogwash comments like “improving reporting by moving to Quickbooks is better than most non profits”, you’re just blowing smoke. (There’s a lot more to financial controls than just reporting, a *lot* more.)

  3. Derek, yes the treasurer made a statement to this same effect last night at the meeting. I thought it was kind of insulting to the many other well known, long term local non-profits that are and have been operating and reporting at a very professional level well before and since this group. CPA Whitlock did not just up and invent this time proven non profit accounting system for the Memorial Committee alone.

  4. “First of all, I was shocked and disappointed to see the accusations in the Kitsap Sun this morning by the former committee members.”

    Laying guilt to shift the blame, nice. Two birds with one stone… Make the few feel bad who bring the problems to light while kissing up to those you have to keep rubbing shoulders with (even though you know the few are right). Typical move of a person with major insecurity issues by the way.

    Cheryl and Todd have done nothing wrong by standing up for what is right. THEY are the type of people that SHOULD be on the committee. The people who currently sit on the committee are the ones who need focus and I would bet you know that.

    It was probably a mistake for you to allow this letter to go public, but hey – as Colleen said, good luck in the next election.

  5. Yeah, sorry Jim. You seem to be missing the boat. I wonder, how many people on this committee actually live in Bremerton? The “good ole boy” method of getting things done in Bremerton hasn’t worked very well and folks are getting pretty tired of it. Suck it up bud, pry the wax out of your ears. The people who live and work in Bremerton often feel like they have no voice in these kinds of issues. This looks like more of the same to me. Would it have killed you to acknowledge that some improvement may be needed? Why are these meetings not better publicized?

    Keep shining the light on the good ole boys behind closed doors Colleen.

  6. Councilman McDonald,

    Need I remind you, it was I, who implimented the “good financial controls” the Committee already had in place, the use of QuickBooks, and it was I who insisted that TWO signatures be put on checks.

    Previous to this, there was no monthly reconciliation.

  7. I for one would like to thank both Todd & Cheryl for all there efforts. Funny thing is anytime I have been to ANYTHING having to do with a positive appearance regarding the memorial, Todd has been there and actively promoting. Also have seen Cheryl at a lot of them.

    Where have all the rest of these committee people been.

    I think it is really not using the best judgement on our Councilman’s part to be out publicly tarnishing those that have given so generously to the effort. I think a thank you would be more appropriate.

    Think it’s time to evaluate the lessons learned and the damage created before any more public statements by the committee and any next move.

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