March 28, 2013
State Auditor's Office

INTENT: To stop the City from using City funds to cleanup private property without reimbursement.

I have received the Public Records Request email from Burien. It is full of interesting information about the Chase house. Specifically, the use of City funds to cleanup bank owned property.

I contacted the Washington State Auditors office because this information discloses illegal use of City funds. The Auditors will see to it that procedures are put in place so this does not occur again. This will help point the City in the direction of what it needs to do about the houses I am discussing with the Council.

The State has supervisory authority over municipalities. The Auditor's office is tasked with seeing that public money is properly spent. Burien's annual audit is scheduled to commence in two weeks. At a minimum, the auditors will be CPA's and many will be tax attorneys.

They will have the depth of knowledge to untangle situations like these.
I discussed the documents I had with the auditor. During this time I kept myself focused on the facts in front of me. (This is where hiring the attorney gave me greater knowledge, so I could be effective with the auditor)

He asked for copies of the bankruptcy documents and public records request. I forwarded my email from Burien so they see the documents in their full context. I attached the following note:

I have attached the bankruptcy filing we talked about for the house in Burien located at 11416 26th Ave. S. plus the Order Approving Amended Plan.  Additionally, there is the response from Burien.

What I see in Burien's response to my records request is:

  • That Burien charged this matter to their legal department instead of filing a lien against the house.
  • Burien cannot provide the dollar amount for the labor.
  • The various invoices were for dates other than the time line that the work occurred.  Specifically, the job ran from November 22nd through November 24th 2010.  These invoices according to Dunn Lumber were for the dates the material was ordered.
  • The limited right of entry document only allowed Burien the right to clean up garbage and debris. Page 16
  • There were no provisions in the limited right of entry for restitution. Page 16
  • Burien additionally secured the house by boarding it up which was not included in the right of entry and had unknown costs.
  • Burien states that Waste Management donated the hauling and disposal fee.  Dumpster was picked up at that location on 11-24-10.

The Bankruptcy filings indicate:

  • The house was surrendered to Chase on March 25, 2010.  Page 3 of the Amended Plan Section V under Secured Property Surrendered.
  • The Judges signature ordering this plan can be found in the Hoeun_Tun_Order Approving Amended Plan.
  • The house was surrendered 35 days prior to the start of dumping at this property.

Hopefully this information will provide you a starting point to determine if further investigation is warranted.

Thank you in advance for your time.

Dick West

Auditors rely on these types of tips.

If the issue confronting your City is of a different nature, these State agencies might be more appropriate:

  • Auditor's Office – Financial irregularities, misuse, mismanagement of City funds
  • Fire Marshall – Fire and safety issues
  • Public Health – Sanitary issues, garbage, and communicable diseases
  • State Police – Criminal misconduct, street, intersection and sidewalk safety issues
  • Ecology – Pollution of air, water and land

Your State's website can direct you to these agencies.