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Adak Revisited, if Correctible

May 9, 2006

By Stephen Taufen - We've received some correcting information from the City Manager of Adak: the harbor project is a total of only $15,825,000, not nearly twice that - as best we can figure today. It seems that calls for a new letter to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. On April 28, in "Adak Runs Amok," we 'accurately restated' that the Economic Development Assistance program of the U.S. Department of Commerce had given another $30 million grant to Adak in 2005 for the small boat harbor, according to the State of Alaska. (That would have pushed total spending and budgets to about $40 million!)

The State's RAPIDS website was the source of that $30 mm grant information, which now appears correctible. (see DCED's community funding database at www.commerce.state.ak.us/dca/commdb/CF_RAPIDS.cfm

The city manager writes today, "The Adak Small Boat Harbor is a city project. It does not belong to TAC or AEC." Groundswell did not identify its "owner" because it was being discussed at the NPFMC meeting in a general fisheries 'open for business' sense. He asked us to get our facts straight, but when seeing the above link, he understood that we were being as accurate as the public records indicated at the time. It helps to work together to straighten things out, so we appreciated his emails, and consideration of our sources.

He says the EDA (and by extension, the State's website) needs to correct that information to read $3,000,000 not $30,000,000. He added that the project was funded $2.3 mm and the city chipped in another $700,000. Although, that still does not ring equal with the $2.1 mm shown on the state site, and also shown on the recap below, nor does it cover the issues of the project entailing "490 jobs. $5 million in private investments." 490 jobs? Whose $5 million? It appears that is a figure for private investment generated, according to how the EDA lists entries (see Bremerton item below) No answers appear available at this time about the details of those jobs, when, or who will invest, etc.

Here's what we did learn. For those of you considering fishing at Adak, we added his additional comments about what each phase entails.

Phase I was: "a $6 million project competitively bid and constructed on time in the winter of 2004/5 that included a 533ft+ open cell steel dock front and a turn basin area."

$325,000 DOTPF Engineering Grant [state money?]

$1,500,000 City of Adak G.O. Bond

$2,100,000 EDA Grant

$1,500,000 State of Alaska Department of Commerce

$1,500,000 State of Alaska Fish and Game

$6,925,000 Total Phase I

Phase II is said to be: "a fully protected SBH with a large turn basin, a large 533 feet working dock and plenty of room for future floating slips for FV 60-foot and under."

$2,000,000 2005 Legislative Grant

$1,600,000 2006 (May) Denali Grant

$1,000,000 2006 Legislative Grant at the Request of the Governor

(Pending)

$4,200,000 Federal Assistance Requested

$8,800,000 Total Phase II

$15,725,000 Grant Total - Phases I and II

This does not include the Public Law 108-137 (originally S.1424) signed on December 1, 2003 at the U.S. Senate, which Ted Stevens got for Lisa Murkowski's provisions that included "$100,000 for a small boat harbor study at Adak," - as we certainly ought to account for all the "studies" being done, at some point. $15.825 million, it is. How does that tickle the Kodiak crowd, or King Cove and others doing harbor work in Alaska?

It would sure be nice if all the federal and state folks would keep track together of the many sources of funds at Adak, as there seems to be no end. The above does not include so many other funds, like AIDEA fuel financing, etc., as the site listed below does not, as well. How can there ever be any public accountability under these conditions?

The city manager assured us on Phase I that there were "no cover-ups or misappropriations for funds when it comes to this project" - and we believe him, until proven otherwise. He appropriately asks us to keep in mind the high expenses of "mob and de-mob . at 1.7 each" - that's $3.4 million just to mobilize and evacuate after the project, at this very remote location. It makes one shudder when you consider federal tax coffers will never see that kind of return from the investment unless Abusive Transfer Pricing is stopped and pollock and cod ex-vessel prices rise to proper levels.

With the ADF&G chipping in $1,500,000, you'd think Commissioner McKie'd help Groundswell with getting the State to establish a new Resource Accountability and Transparency Board on ATP, right? Seems the City of Adak would benefit from higher fish prices, too. Or is that too much to ask public servants?

So how does doing business in Adak come out against other places the United States could invest that taxpayer money? Just compare that harbor cost to the EDA breakwater project in Puget Sound: "$3,000,000 to the Port of Bremerton, Port Orchard, Washington, to fund construction of a breakwater protecting the Port of Bremerton's inner harbor and expanding its marina. This investment is part of a $6,172,049 project that will help create 430 jobs and generate $16 million in private sector investments." More 'bang for the buck.' But, that's our Alaska, once again.

We'll see that the GAO gets an update. When the EDA advises us of its actual award, we'll let readers know if the $3 million was 'restated accurately' as well - or is another "if correctible" case. We aim to please.

As the city manager said in the email: "I personally don't care what you write about TAC, AEC etc. etc. But pls., when you are talking about the City of Adak, have your facts correct."

Well, we hope that we have again done our best. Thanks for the updated project spending and budget, sir. But don't you think that if the City of Adak doesn't care about the problems with the ANC (TAC/AEC) at Adak, that the entire United States' citizenry is affected? Has the City made any attempt to collect the over $7 million in electricity they were ordered by the Regulatory Commission to meter, bill and collect, yet? Why didn't the City back up the Davison lawsuit, and put the electric utility back in its proper hands, as well?

Some questions will never be answered. But for that, there are other solutions, too. Meanwhile, every Alaskan should keep watch on Adak at www.commerce.state.ak.us/dca/commdb/CF_Grants.htm and other sites, like the one above. For without the diligence of good city managers and the public, we'll never know what is correctible, or not.

By Stephen Taufen, Groundswell Fisheries Movement


A public watchdog and advocate for fishermen and their coastal communities. Taufen is an "insider" who blew the whistle on the international profit laundering between global affiliates of North Pacific seafood companies, who use illicit accounting to deny the USA the proper taxes on seafood trade. The same practices are used to lower ex-vessel prices to the fleets, and to bleed monies from our regional economy.
Contact Stephen Taufen

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