HOMES NOW… OR, PARTY DOWN?
PORT TOWNSEND - A group described by Proposition 1 proponents as an “ideal vehicle” for possibly millions of dollars collected from higher property taxes is using taxpayer money for a post-election retreat.
A public records request has unearthed a grant from the City of Port Townsend to Homeward Bound for $30,000. The grant is described as a contract, but simply gives money for unspecified “work” that includes $5,000 for a post-election retreat.
Homeward Bound is the organization behind the $1.6 million “Cherry Street Project” in Port Townsend. This is a four-unit apartment building barged from Victoria, B.C. that has been sitting idle and uninhabitable on stacks of wooden blocks since early May. (The $1.6 million is calculated from all costs of the project: purchase, transportation and staging of the building, final construction and foundation, the $600,000 cost of the land and interest charges).
The other “work” items in the Port Townsend grant are “training for prospective board members--Oakland” ($1,600), “community meeting/election facilitation” ($2,900), hiring a bookkeeper ($2,000), “Homekeeper startup” ($3,500), and $12,000 for half the Homeward Bound’s executive director’s salary for 6 months. $5,000 is for “contract for Mark Bowman financing.” Bowman works with Shorebank, a financial institution that assists land trusts.
County Commissioner Kate Dean sits on the board of Homeward Bound. She can be seen in a YouTube video leading an orientation session for the organization. As a County Commissioner, she will be one of three people responsible for disbursing the nearly $14 million in taxpayer funds that would be generated by Prop 1’s increase in property taxes.
The president of Homeward Bound, Peter von Christierson, endorsed Prop 1 on the website of Homes Now, the campaign organization pushing the proposition. He also recently had a letter to the editor published that endorses Prop 1. He signed the grant from the City in his capacity as President of Homeward Bound.
The grant requires monthly reports to the city of the group’s “progress of reorganization,” but does not require the performance of any other tasks than submitting the reports.
“We could all use a post-election retreat, but not on the taxpayers’ dime,” says Jim Scarantino, spokesperson for the Jefferson County GOP’s “No” Prop 1 Committee. “If this is how Homeward Bound spends money now, taxpayers should be very concerned about what they will do with millions of dollars.”
Homeward Bound was described as an “ideal vehicle” for using Prop 1 funds to assemble a land trust by Prop 1 spokesperson Emily Caryl Ingram at a debate hosted by the Rotary Club at the Roadhouse Diner in Port Townsend on October 18, 2017. The Homes Now website states that Homeward Bound ‘may compete for funds like any other applicant.”
The Port Townsend City Council has endorsed Proposition 1. The majority of organizations endorsing Prop 1 stand to receive grants or loans if the tax passes.
“Homeward Bound is bound up tightly with the network of activists pushing Prop 1 on Jefferson County,” Scarantino said. “There is no daylight between these groups. Homeward Bound members have served on or been active with the organizations promoting Prop 1. Several of their board members have been actively campaigning for Prop 1. Homes Now’s campaign manager and treasurer are in the video featuring Commissioner Dean leading orientation for Homeward Bound. Homes Now’s campaign manager has been a dues-paying Homeward Bound member. Considering that 2 of the 3 Jefferson County Commissioners who will disburse Prop 1 monies sit on the boards of organizations likely to receive the bulk of the funds, and one of those has already participated in accepting tax dollars for a post-election retreat, we should be worried about waste on a greater scale if Prop 1 passes.”
The grant agreement between the City and Homeward Bound accompanies this release.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: OCTOBER 27, 2017
PORT TOWNSEND, WASHINGTON
JEFFERSON COUNTY GOP “NO” PROP 1 COMMITTEE
CONTACT JIM SCARANTINO
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