Sun. May 19th, 2024

By Investigative Reporter, Linda Sutter – April 16, 2024

In a scathing letter addressed to Senator McGuire, Harbor Commissioner Stone lays bare dire financial predicament plaguing the Harbor District. Stone, who has served since January 2017, spearheaded Measure C’s placement on the Ballot, aiming to inject much-needed funds into the Harbor for post-2011 tsunami reconstruction. However, the letter exposes a series of  missteps and poor management ultimately jeopardizing the Harbor’s future.

Stone’s missive begins with a damning revelation: a recent lawsuit judgement against Fashion Blacksmith has left the Harbor District reeling with $1.9 million in liabilities. With dwindling coffers and mounting debts, the board resorted to an ill-advised settlement, further draining resources. Moreover, the Executive Committees failure to disclose the full extent of the Harbor’s financial crisis, including deferring over $460,000 in accounts payable, underscores a lack of transparency and accountability.

Currently, the Harbor District has $220,000 in the Treasury as of April 1, 2024. Out of that figure $156,000 goes to Fashion Blacksmith with only $64,000 remaining.

The situation escalates with the Boards contentious decision to buy out Fashion Blacksmith for $2.6 million over 13 years, despite lacking the revenue to meet annual payments. Stone, a lone dissenting voice, highlights the Board’s reckless disregard for fiscal prudence and long-term sustainability. As debts soar to $9.72 million, the Harbor faces imminent solvency, exacerbated by a monthly $100,000.00 with no concrete plans for revenue generation.

The Harbor receives roughly $300,000 annually from the TOT tax which is used to pay the USDA loan of $260,000. The Board has to come up with an additional $375,000 plus $156,000 to pay Fashion Blackmith annually. The Harbor RV parks are practically empty with their park streets in disrepair.

Stone’s letter pulls no punches, accusing Board members of prioritizing personal interest over public good and dereliction of duty. He admonishes their failure to conduct proper due diligence and uphold the public trust, citing egregious examples such as the lease renewal for Fashion Blacksmith without legal grounds.

Brian reported the following, “Since January 2022, the Executive Board has failed to be transparent with the public. The fact of the matter is, Ted Long wanted to negotiate his lease due to the fact that the Harbor District failed to properly maintain the property under the terms of the lease which included dredging and maintaining the building. But none of the Board members will tell you is Fashion Blacksmith failed to renew his lease by June 30, 2020. Meaning in Brian’s opinion the lease had expired and Fashion Blacksmith had no grounds to a lawsuit.  What was even worse is I warned the board members that in order for Fashion Blacksmith to have filed a lawsuit we were to receive a certified letter from Fashion Blacksmith to extend his lease. This was thoroughly vetted in closed session but two Board members who are fishermen, Harry Adams and Rick Shepherd, voted to allow the renewal of the lease for their own personal gain to get their boats lifted in and out of the Harbor.”

With the Harbor’s financial lifeline hanging by a thread, Stone’s plea for intervention resonates as a sobering call to action in the face of institutional negligence and mismanagement.

  1. Whining about harbor mismanagement and financial insolvency all the while claiming he didn’t have any responsibility for it is just like the pot calling the kettle black. Stone conveniently spends a lot of time finger pointing while neglecting to mention his part in the solar panel/RV park debacle, plus his part in a couple of other business/leasing failures. I’m sure there is plenty of blame to pass around for the bad decisions made by the Board over the last couple of decades, but for Brian Stone to say he has suddenly “seen the light” is hypocrisy in the purest form.

    Besides, he was directly involved in all the hires recently that have become extremely questionable when the harbor is talking about how various employees treat the harbor expense account and track how the money is spent. Seems there is plenty of need for the whole stinking mess to be placed under a fine toothed comb to find just how bad the situation really is, then some firings and resignations are in order, maybe starting out with the Chief finger pointer himself.

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