Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Silas, We Hardly Knew Ye

As other readers have shared, Mr. Potter has opened up. From what we have learned about his dealings and his personality, nothing is very surprising. In the Times' story, he says he believes he is being "thrown under the bus."

Silas, all of you are more like rats off a sinking ship. This is rapidly turning into "he said, he said, he said" with Dr. Goodloe-Johnson sitting in the corner speaking no evil, seeing no evil and hearing no evil.

He's still in Tampa (has been since September) and:

No law-enforcement officials have contacted him, and he said he would cooperate with them.

Potter said he's ready for any fallout, even if he gets arrested.

"If I have to serve time, OK," he said.

From your lips to the King County prosecutor's ears, Silas. I'm hoping the King County prosecutor is giving the Times a ring today for his location.

Also, he talks about himself in the third person. Shades of Bob Dole.

About who is really at fault:

His supervisor at the time — Fred Stephens, the facilities director — controlled and approved how the money was spent, he said. One of the school's attorneys, Ron English, reviewed the contracts and deals, Potter said.

"The bottom line was that I followed directions," Potter said. "Everything I did I went through Fred and he asked Ron English if it was OK to do it."

I have always maintained that he did not do all that he did on his own. There is NO WAY he got that much money for his office on his own.

Ron English says:

Potter's "allegations are not true," English said in a statement to The Times. "I had no involvement or knowledge of his contracts. I prepare the standard contract forms used by the District, but not the actual consulting contracts. I do not review invoices."

But Ron, you talked to Gary Ikeda about your doubts. You may not have known a lot but really, nothing?

The Super? His wording is somewhat cryptic.

Potter doubts that the superintendent was involved. "The superintendent had no knowledge of this," he said. "I hope she doesn't lose her job."

Now "involved" is the Times' word. But what is "this"? It almost implies that he admits wrongdoing OR, maybe, that he's saying she's too far up to have been bothered with his office (which we know isn't true). And why would he care if she loses her job?

There are three people who know the most: Silas Potter, the former internal auditor Nderu and Fred Stephens. I'd give any two of them immunity to know the truth.

I have no idea what happens from here. It's something to ask the KC prosecutor. I think one thing would be for lots of e-mails to hit Gary Locke in D.C., telling him how bad this is and saying that Fred really should be willing to come and talk with the KC prosecutor. I'll try to find his e-mail address.


Lori said...

Well, if they're gonna throw each other under various buses, I guess it's good they are doing it now, because next year, what with all the budget cuts going on, there won't be as many buses around to toss people under. At least not school buses.

Wonder how many of the 600 kids about to be cut off from bus service next year could have been transported with the lost $1.8 million? Hmmm.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Northender said...

Here's Mr. Locke's email

Secretary Locke:

Anonymous said...

Anon & Northender: Thanks. I will surely send Mr. Locke an email. Also,

Sick of it all said...

Does it never end Silas?

And Ron English?

Are'nt your mothers sick somewhere and need you to be with them?

That worked for awhile for MGJ

The lying never seems to stop over there.

Charlie Mas said...

Someone needs to have a long talk with Ron English. He's been getting splattered by a lot of folks.

Mr. Potter says that he knew all about it.

Mr. Nderu suggested the same.

Anonymous commenters within the district say that he's trying to stop leaks and threatening reprisals.

A fellow I know and trust says that Ron English is Don Nielsen's voice (and arm) within the district.

He's up to his neck in the deal to sell MLK to the AME Church as well.

He, on the other hand, has portrayed himself as a whistle-blower. How credible is that?

seattle citizen said...

Sick of it all,
Perhaps MGJ's mother is sick? Until we know otherwise, perhaps that might warrant some consideration...

That said, I wonder if the three "primaries" now under suspicion in this scandal have mothers...and fathers and brotheres...who are now sick at what their children hath wrought: dishonor, self-aggrandizement, profiteering, their families' names cursed as other children lose necessary bus service...

Word Verifier thinks that if there is a woman involved in this scandal, we should RESTER, too.

wsnorth said...

All the media seems to be down at SPS HQ!

There is a gathering crowd chanting "Ding Dong the Witch is Gone, the Wicked Witch is Gone"!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, thank you for this information below but no anonymous comments (give yourself a name).


U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20230

Main: (202) 482-2000

Secretary Locke: TheSec@doc.go

Meg said...

Mr. English was also listed as an instructor for the RSBDP as late as spring 2010.

His apparent participation as an instructor doesn't prove any kind of guilt or wrong-doing on his part, but it doesn't cast him in a particularly innocent light, either.

Sable said...

The KC Prosecutor will announce his decision to file or not, in a few weeks, according to his office.

Observer said...

Did English get paid for that teaching gig out of RSBDP monies? He is already on SPS payroll, and I can't imagine that would be kosher.

Meg said...

Observer - I don't know if it was part of his normal SPS duties or if he was paid additional monies for instruction for RSBDP. It may have been part of his normal duties as a deputy general counsel, although (I think) that implies that the then-general counsel would have agreed to lend him to RSBDP as an instructor.

There is the possibility that he was ordered to be an instructor by his superior, the then-General Counsel. It's hard to know, since Mr. Ikeda has refused to speak as of yet.

But, to be clear, he is listed as an instructor. It is speculation on my part that he may have been paid additional monies to be an instructor. Mr. English may be pure as the driven snow. Or... it's possible he might have, um, drifted.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I checked and Ron English was not paid additionally for the classes he taught(at least not in the public disclosure documents I requested).

In the know..... said...

Melissa - please....the prosecutors office and the police have not commented on teh story or any of the accusations taht are flying around. So you cannot infer or imply that the prosecutor or the police haven't located him. For all you know, they may have found him A MONTH AGO, but can't say anything because of the "secret inquiry" they are doing.

You're better than that. Please don't assume.

Karl Crabs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Observer said...

I agree that simply being an instructor does not imply guilt. But it does mean he had more than a vague knowledge of the RSBDP program and its scope.

Ron English's name keeps popping up alongside Stephens in several contexts now. It just indicates, so far, that they must have had a relatively close working relationship. And don't forget that English was supposedly tasked with keeping Stephen's separated from the MLK property sale process. If they were working on other projects together, that would have been potential conflicts with that assignment, I would think.

none1111 said...

Why did Potter get away with so much for so long? There were several sets of eyes that obviously knew what was happening and yet it didn't stop. I only see 2 general explanations:

1) There are a bunch of people involved.

2) Potter has dirt on one or more of the people up his chain of command.

Or both.

Either way, I think the whole lot of them should be fired. And quickly. Potter, Nderu and Stephens are already gone (although they seem like the likely candidates to take the hit if criminal charges came through). MGJ and Kennedy are history now as well, but English and Ikeda are highly suspect as well. The AME sale is going to come under some scrutiny, we'll see. There are a few others I don't trust down there, but that would be a good start.

If it's #2, I'll be thrilled to hear what they start saying about each other to save their own asses. I'm almost hoping it's #2 just to get the fully skinny!

If there's a good side to any of this, it's that the academic side of the house doesn't seem to be involved or tainted. I know some of you don't care for Enfield for other reasons, but I'm (pretty) comfortable in thinking that she wasn't involved in any of this particular fiasco. If other heads start rolling soon, that will speak volumes.

Anonymous said...

@none1111: I believe Ikeda is long gone replaced by Treat as the District's general counsel.

English is still there though. I heard that English was the one who presented to the Board's committee information about real estate sales and leases and that English negotiated terms of the sales. Come to think of it, isn't it odd that a lawer in legal counsel negotiates deals instead of impartially reviewing contracts? Could this be an opportunity for a potential conflict of interest? He must know more! Please keep digging.

A friend to Seattle

Melissa Westbrook said...

In the Know, it was reported in the Times that law enforcement didn't know where he was. I didn't just assume. You must be new because Charlie and I never just assume anything. We check and do our best to get answers. So, no, I didn't just make an assumption.

Ron English, as legal counsel, did review all the plans submitted for MLK, Jr. bldg. It's part of his job. But his reasoning why First AME Church's submission came out on top left a lot of us scratching our heads.

Melissa Westbrook said...

In the Know, it was reported in the Times that law enforcement didn't know where he was. I didn't just assume. You must be new because Charlie and I never just assume anything. We check and do our best to get answers. So, no, I didn't just make an assumption.

Ron English, as legal counsel, did review all the plans submitted for MLK, Jr. bldg. It's part of his job. But his reasoning why First AME Church's submission came out on top left a lot of us scratching our heads.

Observer said...

Melissa, English also set up the ground rules for the RFPs as well. He was on the SUAC committee, and the documents imply he led many of the community discussions (I wasn't there, so I am inferring this from the docs).

So in essence, there is a single lawyer at SPS who: headed a committee to determine the guidelines for the bids; performed a legal review of the contracts for the bids; participated in the recommendation of a single bidder to the Board; on at least one public occasion enthusiastically supported the choice made as final bidder.

Let's not forget he was ALSO tasked with making sure that the head of Facilities stayed neutral, since there was a conflict of interest. Which he did not seem to do a good job at, given the head of Facilities was sitting with the winning bidder during public meetings and had relatives who helped draft the winning proposal.

And it remains unclear which players were responsible for putting MLK on the surplus list in the first place, and who promoted it to the top of the heap and initiated the sales process.

With all the overhead at SPS, you'd think they could have found a second lawyer to help English with all those various, conflicting duties. Or at least had someone note the glaring potential for abuse.

Jan said...

A friend to Seattle: lawyers (both inhouse and outside) negotiate deals all the time. Sometimes, they have a "business guy" with them -- sometimes not. There are lots of ways to divide up that work.

But, all that said -- I am with Observer here. Having ONE guy in charge of EVERYTHING -- in a case where someone else inside who otherwise might have handled it had a conflict -- AND having the result be that the "winning" bid was (A) the LEAST likely (the weakest) of the three AND (B) the bid that the "conflicted out" person -- Stephens -- wanted to win -- well, it doesn't look one bit good. NOW, add to all that the fact that the person who was conflicted out is caught up and implicated in another scandal involving behinds the scenes payments and influence -- yikes. It looks even worse.

It will be really bad if it turns out that the District was manipulated, conned basically, into selling MLK to the lowest bidder under fraudulent or unfair circumstances. The District's taxpayers (who would have gotten more money from either of the other bidders), the Bush School, and the Madison Valley community folks who put together the third bid deserve to know that the work that was done, and the decision that was made, were above-board and correct. Frankly, because it makes First AME look bad, THEY deserve a further look into this as well. Observer is right. They should have sent this outside, to someone beyond Mr. Stephens's reach. I know some of the Board don't want to hear it, but there needs to be a further investigation of this deal.

In the know... said...

@Melissa: "We check and do our best to get answers."

Sort of like the whole police report thing, right?

Again, despite what the Times reported, I'll bet'cha that the po-po knew a long time ago. And just because they know doesn't mean that they are going to arrest someone right away.

I'm not new here, but (I'm sorry), you are off-the-mark on this one issue.