UPDATE: Did KCLS Wrongly Use Public Funds To Mail July 2 Letter?

Read the letter (in PDF format, below), then vote in our poll and share your thoughts in our comment section.

Update, 7/11/2012

King County Library System Spokesperson Julie Brand confirmed that the agency printed 43,000 letters at a cost of about $3,000. Mail prep and postage costs came to about $7,000.

"Our cost for printing and mailing the letter came to about an even $10,000," she said by phone on Wednesday morning.

Currently Beedon's complaint is the only one on file with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) regarding the KCLS July 2 mailing, said PDC Spokesperson Lori Anderson.

PDC records show that only one other complaint was filed against KCLS back in 2004 by Will Knedlik of Kirkland, who "alleged that officials of KCLS produced and distributed publications that contained misstatements about Proposition #1 to misinform voters, and that KCLS officials misused public assets, facilities and personnel to promote Proposition #1."

Knedlik's complaint was ultimately dismissed in March 2005.

Beedon's complaint is still in the vetting process, Anderson said.

"Staff haven't decided to log it yet," she said, adding that the review process will take about a week.

Patch will update this story as soon as more information become available.

Original Post, 7/10/2012

A letter sent to Renton residents last week resulted in a complaint filed with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission.

Renton resident Renate Beedon filed the complaint against King County Library System (KCLS) Director Bill Ptacek for wrongful use of public funds.

In her complaint, she states that Ptacek, “Used Public funds to mail a letter to the citizens of Renton advising them to vote for his choice of library location in the City of Renton.”

But Ptacek says he did no such thing.

“We gave the information that we have (regarding the history of the library issue and the upcoming vote),” he said. “As a library, that is what we are supposed to do.”

The KCLS board voted to send the letter based on feedback from its legal council, Ptacek said.

“There really isn’t anything to complain about,” he said.

The number listed at the bottom of the letter, dated July 2 went to the KCLS general answer line. 

KCLS answer line operator Barbra Barkus said she’s fielded plenty of calls regarding the letter. So much so, she had a copy of it in front of her.

“We’ve been getting lots of questions,” she said.

When asked if KCLS had received many inquiries about the mailing, Ptacek answered with, “Not really.”

Patch asked about the number of letters mailed and cost of printing and postage, but KCLS spokesperon Julie Brand had left for the day, Ptacek said. He did not have the information on hand, but offered to forward our request to Brand. Patch will update this article after KCLS provides the figures.

Did you receive the letter? If not, or if it went straight to the circular file, click on the PDF file to the right, give it a read and tell us what you think.

Click here to read past articles and letters to the editor about the downtown Renton Library.

Dena Rosko July 21, 2012 at 12:10 AM
First, thank you Renton Patch for running this story and for sharing the document. Can the letter be made available to download via Scribd? Thanks, Dena
Dena Rosko July 21, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Second, point of contest involves RCW 42.52.180, or use of public resources on campaigning (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=42.52.180). The PDC, if not already, needs to define "measurable expenditure." Though KCLS director mailed the letter as from him, did he use public funds to pay for the mailing, and if so, what measure does the PDC currently employ to evaluate such an expense? It seems ridiculous to me that the RCW in question has yet to define "measurable expenditure" as that definition comprises half the point of the RCW in the first place. Back to my recommendation: An agency with taxing authority, even "junior," must be an elected and not appointed body. Moreover, KCLS would have done well to keep it's hands out of this campaign, or let the PDC registered campaign teams do their job. Now KCLS' involvement, barring ethical violation of an RCW, will either call into question the results should the Cedar River *or* Piazza library win. I hope KCLS efforts backfire and people tire of misuse of government funds RCW or no RCW. Thank you for reading, Dena Rosko
Dena Rosko July 21, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Third, I'm voting for the library at Cedar River for two reasons: 1) I like the overlap of parks and play for health in learning 2) I tire of government misuse of public funds and the democratic process I still await an official statement from City of Renton about it's response to KCLS' numbers contending the City's own estimates. I want to see autonomy and trust in the voting process restored. The question will soon be not which library location do you prefer, but where will we go after the vote in the interest of city health and credibility? Read more about the library story at http://bit.ly/z3vUdf Thank you for reading, Dena Rosko
Jenny Manning July 21, 2012 at 12:27 AM
I'm not sure why the 'download' button is currently disabled in Scribd, Dena. Sorry for the inconvenience. I'll follow up with our engineering team. In the meantime I'll email you a pdf of the letter.
Ruth M. Taylor July 22, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Why has "state of the art" never been defined? That expression has been used to define kitchens, technology in schools etc. and it often becomes outdated rapidly. This term has been used constantly at various meetings I have attendedjreferring to our "new libraries".. I, also, am so disturbed by Bill Patek's letter as well as the editor's letter in the Renton Reporter in their attempts to "muddy the waters" for our citizens to the point many no longer know who or what to believe. I know our mayor used to have connections with the Renton Reporter, but really don't know if he still has influence there. I want library to remain over the Cedar River and wish citizens could be allowed to decide by voting WITHOUT non-residentual influence. It's too late for that to happen. I often wonder how long the mayor and city council members opposing current library location have resided in our city in cluding Mr.King. Thankyou, Ruth Taylor


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