Page 1

Who is Vashon’s #1 Fan?

HE GREW A FEAST Island farmer reads from his latest book. Page 12

Look for your flag inside. See Pages 13-16




Vol. 59, No. 05



Audit takes issue with VPD debt Commissioners pledge to create financial plan for district By SUSAN RIEMER Staff Writer

The financial condition of the Vashon Park District puts it at risk of not being able to meet its financial obligations or maintain its current services, said state officials, who recently audited the district. Earlier this winter, the state Auditor’s Office conducted an accountability and financial audit of the district for 2013, examining the district’s financial condition as well as other areas, including its capital assets, contracting procedures and grant agreements. Auditors delivered the results to park district general manager Elaine Ott, and the commissioners discussed the report at their board meeting two weeks ago. In their response — a required element of the audit — the commissioners pledged to develop a long-term financial plan for the district and deliver it to the Auditor’s Office by June 30. The state released the final version of the audit on Monday. “I think they gave us some very valid conclusions,” said commissioner Scott Harvey, who was seated in November. “It gives us a benchmark moving forward.” In most areas, the auditors say, the district complied with state laws and its own policies and procedures, but the auditors reported the district’s poor financial condition as an official finding.

“Anytime we have a financial condition, we consider it serious,” said David Smolko, the state employee who conducted the audit. “We think it is something the public should know.” The audit report highlights what the auditors say is the biggest risk to the district’s financial picture: the amount it pays to debt service — a number that has spiked in recent years — compared to its annual revenue. Debt service includes only principal and interest paid and does not include loan balances. From 2009 through 2011, that debt service percentage was small, ranging from 1.6 to 3.3 percent of revenue. In 2012, debt service rose to 9.2 percent of revenue, and in 2013, the report says, that amount rose to more than 37 percent of the district’s approximately $1.3 million in revenue. At the recent board meeting, Ott and the commissioners questioned whether there were errors in the auditors’ report. That discrepancy was later resolved, Ott said, and the auditors’ numbers stand. In an interview following the audit, Smolko noted that in recent years, park district revenue has declined because of a decrease in levy dollars, yet the district has continued to spend a considerable amount of money, taking loans for expenses it could not cover. “To me, the board was just not recognizing that,” he said. Currently, the report says, the district has two bonds that mature in 2015 and 2018 with balances of $184,334 and $149,839 respectively, a line of

Natalie Martin/Staff Photo

A for sale sign has been outside the K2 building for months. Officials from Cushman & Wakefield have not commented on the building’s status.

Marijuana company says it is close to purchase of K2 building By NATALIE MARTIN Staff Writer

The K2 building could one day be home to a large operation for producing edible marijuana products, should a company close to purchasing the property complete the deal and clear several regulatory hurdles. Bakkhos Holding, a legal marijuana company, has placed an offer on the K2 building, and the offer has been accepted, according to Dan Anglin, a spokesman for the company. Anglin said last week that Bakkhos Holding — a company with Seattlearea investors who have been involved in the medical marijuana industry — is now under contract to purchase the building from K2, which is owned by the Jarden Corporation, but the purchase has not yet been completed.


SEE K2, 22

Michael Spakowsky remembered as a prolific artist, local legend Islander dies from cancer at age 64 By ELIZABETH SHEPHERD For The Beachcomber

Tom Hughes Photo

Michael Spakowsky died last weekend after a short battle with cancer.

Michael Spakowsky, a revered local watercolorist and musician, died on Sunday, Jan. 26. He was 64. Spakowsky died of a fast-moving cancer that was diagnosed only a few weeks ago, said his daughter, Daphne Edwards. Known on Vashon and throughout the region as a maritime painter, Spakowsky was deeply influenced by the beauty of the Northwest and particularly Vashon Island and its surrounding waters. “There is such a sense of Vashon and its history in his work,” said island artist Brian

Brenno, who was also a friend and admirer of Spakowsky. His paintings often showed a solitary vessel — a tug, trawler, sailboat or ferry — kicking up whitecaps as it plowed through the waters of Puget Sound, framed by majestic mountains or log-strewn cobble beaches. The paintings, in some ways, were an apt metaphor for the way Spakowsky charted his own singular course as an artist. By his own account in a 2012 interview with The Beachcomber, Spakowsky made two paintings a week for 40 years — more than 4,000 in all — almost all of which he sold for prices ranging from $200 to $600. He wanted to be able to sell them SEE SPAKOWSKY, 17

Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, January 29, 2014  
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber, January 29, 2014  

January 29, 2014 edition of the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber