corruption

Part 2: Veterans Point of Honor Monument Chaos

BY: Architect of Record, Charles Slert, FARA – October 8, 2017 – Continued from Part 1 published on October 7, 2017:

But it’s also very important to note that while in 2012 I had to relocate from Crescent City to Fortuna for medical and healthcare reasons.

I fully and completely continued on with my full-time commitment as “Architect of Record” responsibilities with especially heavy CA Coastal Commission coordination and required project revisions, along with nearly daily coordination communications for months with President Zeigler. So my having to relocate to Fortuna, had absolutely no impact on the progress of our Monument. Additionally and subsequently, I made numerous documented trips continually to Crescent City and back, for Committee meetings and close project coordination. It is important to note that even today most of my work is located out of the north coast region and working with experienced professionals and clear, timely communications represents absolutely no problems. I have even closely and successfully coordinated projects of mine, as far away as Valencia, Spain. So my current Fortuna location represents a non issue regarding me staying totally on top of our project and coordinating accordingly, until my colleagues colluded to by-pass me as Project Architect. Curious that everything had been going along perfectly with myself, our team, our project and the Committee until the Committee brought Adam Trask aboard as a Project Manager. It is clearly documented that the project went substantially down-hill from that time forward to today. Yet another example of poor project leadership and management.

So what’s the problem you ask? Actually, there are several associated problems.

Firstly, as a CA State Licensed Architect, I used my professional Architects License Seal Stamp to Wet-Stamp and Wet-Sign (my personal signature on every sheet of drawings) of all of my Construction Drawings I prepared and furnished to secure our Coastal Development Permit and local Building Permits (exclusively to the direct and exclusive benefit of the my Veteran colleagues and Monument Committee). Secondly, if there are any proposed changes to my original submitted and approved Construction Drawings, as project architect, I am supposed to be appraised immediately of such and respond accordingly. As it turned out, there were significant changes being made subsequent to my securing both the Coastal Development Permit and local Building Permit and nobody, least of all Project Mgr. Trask informed me of such (to this day, he denies such), even when I repeatedly demanded the current status in person and in writing. So what’s wrong with this picture? Just basic insubordination. Well, it gets worse, as Trask, Ziegler, Plack, Bradford and Committee continue to attempt to trivialize, dismiss, ignore and/or obstruct me from performing my job as Project Architect (of 10 yrs.) to insure the correctness of our Monument moving forward. Also, if significant changes, which there have been, are made, it requires re-review by the CA Coastal Commission Executive Director for approval once again. And, most importantly, with my name, license, stamp and signature on the drawings, if anything is missed, goes wrong or is screwed-up (by others), I am personally liable and responsible for such damages. So, why would I leave my professional integrity/reputation and myself exposed professionally and liability wise, while my Veteran colleagues are purposely avoiding me, obstructing &/or interfering with me doing my job as architect? In addition to them choosing to not communicate with me regarding my ongoing concerns, especially when they are directly benefiting at my expense and exposure?

So let’s talk about our Monument project gross mismanagement from a standpoint of project financing.

First of all, over the past ten years of our project there have been several individuals tasked with the responsibility of “Fund Raising” and pursuit of and securing of “Grants.” Too many people over all the years and in the end very little to nothing to show for. In the early years of our project I accompanied then President, “Chief Plack” making local fund raising presentations. Ben Cameron originally headed up local Fund Raising efforts. Additionally, early on in our project, the Late (RIP) Tommy Sparrow headed-up the pursuit of Monument project Grants. Unfortunately, with respect to the early pursuit of Grants, those efforts never ended up with any successes.

So this is where the Monument project financing efforts failed. It’s always a “chicken or the egg” issue. In order to truly pursue various Grants, you must have a project bottom-line cost estimate, so you know how much you are applying for.

As far as grants considerations are concerned for our Monument the issue of whether or not any form of government funds is going to be involved, ends up eliminating many potential Grant sources as many Grants will not be allowed when any form of government funding is involved. Additionally, if the project bid and construction contract is in anyway associated with any form of government related funding (grants) then “prevailing wages” is mandatory, which in the end kicks the overall construction costs up substantially. So we never had a Monument cost estimate to submit along with our Grant requests.

Repeatedly, over the years I requested that the Committee formulate a methodology and game-plan to approach local, regional corporations, construction companies, general &/or subcontractors, groups/organizations &/or individuals who may be interested in making major contributions, donations, investments (funding, materials or labor), to our Point of Honor Monument.

I even identified specific names to pursue to include: Hemmingsen Construction, Tidewater, Haban, Northridge Electric, HomeDepot (local & national), etc.. I even repeatedly created the forms to secure: the contributing company entity, the name of the authorizing representative officer, the date, and the specific (per our Construction Drawings) “In-Kind” contributions to be made (in the form of a specific dollar-value). More recently, this was a task to be conducted by our relatively new Project Manager, Adam Trask. He never followed through so this most important responsibility never happened. Then even more recently this past spring Committee Member Craig Bradford was identified to head this effort up. And that never happened. The goal from a project financing standpoint (community “In-kind”, local fund raising &/or Grants) was to establish our project total costs, and then deduct the “In-Kind” dollar-value representations, and local fund raising efforts, so that we would then know more correctly what kind of and how much (specifically) of a Grant(s) we would need to go for. Makes since, but once again it never happened! But, from the very inception of our project we collectively knew that local community funding would never substantially finance the building of our Point of Honor. In the last couple of years I suggested that we needed to think out-of-the-box regarding our project funding. I suggested that our Committee team purse big league foundations, ie; The Gates Foundation, The Trump Organization, Apple Corporation, IBM, Oracle and so on. Obviously, once again, it fell on deaf ears as no one acted. Then there was the completely failed effort of pursuing supposedly numerous potential grants through the consultant we hired and paid, named “Granted Solutions”. Just last December, President Ziegler indicated in writing to me that there were 18-24 various Grants available to us. In the end, this spring after several attempts, Granted Solutions failed to respond to inquiries or return contacts. So in the end, the Committee spent consultant fees, once again, for absolutely nothing. Based on my plus 35 years experience, collectively, I call these individual and collective mis steps gross project mis-management. Thank You Veteran Committee leaders/members; Ziegler, Trask, Plack, Bradford and others. Because my Veteran Committee colleagues in choosing to “Abandon my Point of Honor visionary project,” of ten years this past May 26th, at this time, suggesting that it was apparently running too costly, after all of their collective screw ups, what a joke. This is referred to as attempting to defer &/or redirect their numerous failures onto me. For a little more Monument financial evolution and clarity I will offer the actual facts, which is that we all knew what the Monument was going to cost over these many years of evolution. In December 2008 we gave my construction drawings to Dave of local Hemmingsen Construction for a cost estimate, On January 10, 2009 Hemmingsen Construction provided us with a preliminary cost estimate of $440,650. So we had at that time an order-of-magnitude regarding Monument costs.

 

 

 

6 Responses to Part 2: Veterans Point of Honor Monument Chaos

  1. Thank you Cavalry Scout John Wood, 5th & 9th Infantry Divisions for your service and sacrifices. You are absolutely correct that as Vietnam Combat Veterans we were not proudly welcomed home let alone celebrated for our service and sacrifices. Just you identifying your service units speaks volumes to me as I served as an infantryman, radio-man and mortarman in Co E, 4th of 12th Battalion, 199th Seperate and Light Infantry Brigade doing confidential operations 1968-69. And thank you for your previously getting involved in our Point of Honor Veterans Monument. I’m sorry we haven’t previously met. So unfortunately, the local community has no idea of, or new images of what they are going to actually get after the committee this past late May, chose to “Abandon” my 10 year, approved and permitted Point of Honor architectural design Veterans Monument. You and the local community should full-court press the “rag-tag” committee regarding their new plans, budgets, schedules, fund raising and/or Grants status? We all know that what you as a community will get for plus $93,000 has no relationship to the landmark project you approved and was fully permitted that was forever known by the committee to cost something like $650,000, before In-Kind contributions, donations and Grants were deducted . In the end, no Grants were secured in 10 years time. Absolutely a major and gross Committee failure, no accountability and no responsible leadership. And then in the end, my Veteran colleagues turned on me, the one who created, produced and delivered everything Project related. Now that’s gratitude, respect and thankfulness. Not! The committee has been avoiding the issues at hand, their failures and covering things up. I know, if I was a community member who had previously made financial contributions to the original approved and permitted Point of Honor and the original Monument design, integrity and quality had been greatly altered, I would want my money back. It is unfair and unethical for the committee to continue their charade on the people of Crescent City & Del Norte County.

    • WTF Reply

      October 11, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      Mr. Slert, I have read your comments as well as Mr. Woods’ and others. I am so grateful for your service and others that have fought to keep our country free from all the bad things going on in the world. Like many, we have donated for the Point of Honor and had high expectations that something would happen soon, especially after the ground-breaking ceremony, to honor those that have served.

      This picture you are painting is very disgusting. First, I would sure like to find out exactly who is responsible for this fiasco. Either the Times or some other publication needs to get these folks on the record to explain what has happened here. Is all the money that was donated gone? Is there corruption? What the hell happened? Are there too many cooks in the kitchen?

      Next, our veterans certainly deserve a grand monument, but perhaps this monument as designed is too grand and too complicated. What would be wrong with three flagpoles, a stone monument and a bronze plaque to honor our veterans? Isn’t it better at this point to just put something out there, for cripes sake?

      Let’s just get it done, stop fooling around! Our vets deserve better.

      • WTF- Thank you for your kind comments and gratitude for our combat service. And thank you for your contributions to my original Point of Honor Master Plan and Architectural Design. I along with yourself and the rest of the local community and Veterans also had high expectations for our Veterans Monument project. On the one hand you had every reason to be excited about the recent groundbreaking ceremony. Except your Veterans Monument Committee is playing a game of charades with you and the community, by not telling you that they “Abandoned” my original Coastal Commission approved and Building Permitted Monument project, instead giving you an Edsel car, when a Cadillac was created over 10 years ago and repeatedly presented to the entire community, supported and approved by multiple governing body’s. You have every reason to feel disgusted, because your Veterans Committee has grossly misrepresented, or have not represented what has and is happening. The Committee leadership is specifically to blame: Harlan Ziegler (President since 2009); Doug Plack (VP); Adam Trask (Project Mgr.); Craig Bradford (Committee Member) et-al; for their lack of timely leadership, mis-management, lack of follow-up and follow through and lack of experience when it comes to fund-raising/Grant efforts and non-existent construction experience. The result is after 10 long years, with everything in place, except the money to finance the construction. And yes they have a lot of explaining to you all as the community, but don’t hold your breath for any of them to be forthcoming with substantiated facts. Right now, they are collectively in a “duck and take cover” mode. Yes, too many “cooks’ in the kitchen”, none with professional construction experience. Ten years of “cheap talk.’ and no financial results. And yes, they all need to be held accountable and responsible for their individual and collective actions or lack thereof! The net result is you as a community and Veterans lose. No, my original Architectural Design was not too grand, as everyone new the associated economics from the very beginning, and they specifically knew the financial support and Grants that were required all along they way. Numerous Grant avenues were pursued at one time or another over the 10 years, including the hiring of Granted Solutions Consultants, supposedly with connections in the Sacramento area. In the end, they (the committee) never secured one Grant over the 10 years period of time, so to save face, because the clock was ticking regarding the Coastal Permit Extension (because no construction had begun), they punted, “Abandoning” my completely approved & permitted design, to save their own butts. You also have to remember that there was a very rigorous and specific Monument project approval submittal and review process required by the Coastal Commission in addition to the securing of the local Building Permit. And as a committee, you are just going to throw all of that 10 years of “Good Will”, works and successes away, and start the whole process over this past May 26th? Are you kidding me? So yes, there’s a lot of serious questions to be asked, answered and backed-up with hard documentation proof, which I personally have a record of having been the Architect of Record for 10 years. This is called, gross failed leadership and project management. You may be alright with the notion of changing of the guard and shifting gears in the 13th hour of our project, but I am not OK with that, not after 10 years of 800hrs. plus “pro-bono” professional expertise, contributions and sacrifice…to now, just build anything for the sake of building something. That is called misrepresentation, mismanagement and leadership failure, for 10 years. Now you as a community get whatever mediocrity they chose to deliver, whenever and for whatever cost? Too bad Crescent City, Del Norte County

  2. John Wood Reply

    October 9, 2017 at 11:50 am

    I have not heard the other side of this story, so I only say that I am sorry to hear about this conflict between Sergeant Charles Slert and the committee. I too have contributed time, money, and energy toward the Point of Honor Monument, but not that much money, as I am a poor, combat disabled veteran. As a long time veteran’s advocate and Vietnam combat vet, I wrote a piece promoting the Point of Honor in my pro veteran Triplicate column Wood’s Way about a year or so ago. After being invited to join the PoH committee, and after only a couple months, I dropped out due to health reasons. I have been completely out of the loop since, so I can’t speak to the internal committee conflicts Sergeant Slert speaks about, but it would be sad news should the PoH not come into fruition. Do you know what the new proposed design is to be Sarge? A highly visible Point of Honor would have attracted veterans and veteran’s activities from all over Northern California, Oregon, and beyond. It could provide huge financial benefits to this city and county in our restaurants, motels, and other businesses. Imagine the possibilities the Vietnam Memorial Moving Wall being set up near the Point of Honor Memorial would bring.

    For we veterans, the words “thank you for your service” have become as hollow as the campaign trail promises of a politician. As Sergent Slert well knows, we were hated and scorned by the general public, and not given a welcome home from Nam, but instead had to keep it a secret to the point we were advised not to wear our uniform in public when returning to “The World” after completion of our tours of duty in Nam because the public hated us and the government did not support us. It appears Del Norte County in general needs to better honor and respect its veterans as those 3 county line signs proclaim. I recently heard the Del Norte Veteran’s Court was dissolved soon after it was formed. The Roseburg VA pulled out their VA Clinic. The Veterans Memorial Building on H Street has such a severe mold issue, that the upstairs can not be used. I wasn’t there, but also heard the Board of Supervisors was asked to pay that $2,000 for the repainting of the mural on the front of the Veterans Memorial Building to an artist that is also a veteran, but rejected that request, and instead hired a non veteran, who by the way, did not even know when the Vietnam War started and ended, and was about to place the wrong ending date on the building until I took it to County Veteran’s Service Officer, Army Lieutenant Aaron Goodwin to be corrected. The good lieutenant corrected it ASAP. Come on now, there are plenty of veterans who are also artists in this county to which that two grand should have been paid, but rumor has it that the decision makers refused to even look for a veteran artist. In the absence of finding a veteran artist, the spouse of a disabled vet could have and should have been hired.

    Veteran’s Day is November the 11th, so everyone needs to show their gratitude toward our vets.

    If you don’t get the point, it’s because you never walked it.

    John Wood,
    Cavalry Scout,
    3rd Squadron, 5th Armored and Air Cavalry,
    The Black Knights since 1855,
    9th Infantry Division,
    5th Infantry Division,
    Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia,
    DMZ, Au Shau Valley, Khe Sanh

  3. Wesley Nunn Reply

    October 8, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Well, let’s see — if it’s been nine years, and they paid grant finders but there’s no grant money available, and there’s no design because they cut out Charles Slert, and the permits are invalid because the design has to change, then they’re no further along after nine years and the ground-breaking ceremony was a total joke. Does that sum it up?

    Someone please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Very well stated Wes. You fully get it. You are correct in that I as a Licensed CA State Architect am required to “Wet Stamp” and “Wet Sign” with my Architects Stamp, each and every sheet of my drawings which is what I did, to secure our Coastal Development Permit and our Building Permit. Which by doing this, my professional CA Architect License is directly (exclusively) at risk as a result of any screw-ups by others or changes by others. Additionally, I have major liability exposures for the same reasons. So when the committee in their stupid wisdom chose, behind my back, to “Abandon” my original community approved, Veterans approved, Planning Commission approved, City Council approved, CA Coastal Development Permit approved (with “Special Project Conditions”) and local Building Permit approval, it all went away, as the committee cannot in one action chose to “Abandon” my original master plan and architectural design and on the other hand turn around and use any aspect of my original design without violating my Congress Architects Copyright Infringement Act guaranteed in 1990. A lot of demanding, specific questions need to be demanded of the Veterans committee with backing documentations ASAP. The Veterans and the local community is not getting anything like what has been represented and a major amount of community “Good Will” for the past 10 years in the form of local interest, support, contributions, donations, investments &/or In-Kind contributions . Social Media shows Ms. Schellong using my exhibits (design drawings, panels & model) for local fund raising, when what is being displayed and people are contributing to, is not what is going to be built. That’s misrepresentation of the facts. And isn’t it curious that no one associated with the committee is coming forward in any regards let alone pro-actively about the “changing of the guard or the project changes,” and all associated implications therewith. It’s a charade on the part of the committee. Very wrong and unfortunate for all concerned. And when I recently approached Editor Robin Fornoff regarding the Monument background and supporting images and documentation on three communications, he indicated to me that this issue was not a current priority. So instead of informing the local community (which I believe has a great interest in the issues at hand, if they knew what is and has been going on) via his Triplicate newspaper, now he has decided to be part of the “cover-up” by not pursuing. As I said, it’s all too bad and very sad for the greater community. I never asked for anything, except a highly successful Veterans Monument project, professional integrity and truthfulness.

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