The Burlington Hill Truth 2013


More than $400,000 stolen from Burlington, Washington 
city bank account; other accounts compromised Breach Incidents, Government Sector, Hack, U.S. 

Oct 13 2012

The city of Burlington, Washington lost $400,000 to hackers who transferred city funds over a two-day period to various accounts around the country. City workers were also notified that their direct deposit bank account information was compromised and that they should cancel or red flag their accounts. The city’s bank account with Bank of America has been frozen, but there’s no indication as to why the fraudulent transfers weren’t detected and blocked sooner than two days. (Note: see update about time-frame, which doesn’t appear to be two-day period).

The news coverage also does not mention that any customer accounts were affected, but in digging into this story a bit more, I found a notice on the city’s Finance Department web site that indicates customers using autopay are also affected:


It has come to the City’s attention that the City’s Utility Billing Automatic Withdrawal information (for sewer and 
storm drain charges) has been compromised. If you are enrolled in Autopay, you should assume that your name, bank, bank account number and routing number have been compromised.


The City immediately closed the affected bank account and will not be withdrawing the funds owed for your July/August 2012 City of Burlington Utility Bill on October 15, 2012 as previously stated on your bill.

Please make arrangements to do one of the following to pay your bill by October 31, 2012:

1. Use your online bill pay option through your banking institution

2. Pay by check (mail to 833 S Spruce Street, Burlington, WA 98233)

3. Call 360-755-0531 and pay with a VISA , MasterCard or Discover credit or debit card


Bryan Harrison, City Administrator

Stigmatized Properties: Disclosure of Latent Defects

Latent defects are those hidden or concealed defects that would not be discovered in the course of a reasonable inspection. Latent defects are the opposite of patent defects, which by definition are defects plainly visible or that can be discovered in the course of a reasonable inspection. In real estate, although misrepresentation normally requires a statement to be made to the Buyer silence can also result in some liability on the part of the Seller.

Prior to entering into a Contract to sell real estate the Seller is required to disclose to the Buyer any latent defects the Seller is aware of. Failure to disclose will not affect the consent of the parties, but will have similar consequences as misrepresentation.
Technically speaking, latent defects are facts that :

1) are unknown to the Buyer and are so crucial to the enjoyment and value of the property that the Buyer might not have entered into the Contract had he known they existed and 

2) cannot be discovered upon reasonable inspection of the property.

An example of a latent defect in one case was the presence of an underground water culvert which was not apparent from a normal inspection of the land and which the Seller was aware of and failed to disclose. If the Seller does not disclose the existence of a latent defect, the Buyer can rescind the Contract and/or recover damages.

 Other more typical examples of latent defects are the existence of urea formaldehyde foam insulation or asbestos insulation in a property offered for sale. However, the Seller will not be held liable for failing to disclose a latent defect he was unaware of unless a reasonable person would have been aware of it.

Some latent defects are out of the ordinary but must still be disclosed if known to the Seller. For instance, properties rumored to be haunted are one such example, as is a property previously used as a site for a marijuana grow operation. In one recent court case, a luxury condominium where someone had committed suicide was held as a property with a latent defect that the Seller had a duty to disclose to the Buyer.

 These are known as 'stigmatized properties' because they are associated with a 'stigma' , an unusual, distressing event or circumstance such as murder, suicide or criminal activity. These properties may be worth less or could be hard to resell because prospective Buyers might not consider them. As such, the market for stigmatized properties is drastically reduced - and so is their value.

A New danger found in and around a scenic development
2013 Reporting
4/26/2013–12:34 pm

BURLINGTON, WA. (KP) _ For over a decade, the people on Burlington Hill have been challenged by decisions that their local Government had made regarding a road debacle and the Reconstructing of the roads in the development.

Now they are being forced to live through another more serious issue all over again, thanks to a recent EPA Report it has been determined that Asbestos/Actinolite (a form of Naturally Occurring Asbestos) is under, over, and around this scenic residential development and no one person from the City, especially the Planning Department can, give or has ever given a definitive answer to the residence that reside on the hill to how this could have been missed in the original development application process under their own city regulations through a Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Determination of NonSignificance (DNS), and State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), Application process.

A 2013 Reporting investigation, found that the City Planning department SEPA Application, did not include or make mention to an Asbestos mining operation that took place during the 1930's and continued for several decades according to a United States Geological Survey (USGS) report.

Or possibly the answer is in a sworn deposition taken last year by the city of Burlington's only planner who had said that “The Department of Ecology never reads anything”, and “We have not received a comment letter from them on anything in years”.

The Skagit County records shows a mining company called Asbestos Talc Products of Washington, a Washington Corporation having owned Burlington Hill, and maintained a mining operation on the hill.

“Was it just a coincidence that the Land Development company, had Board of Directors, who were also Board of Directors of the Tittle company that represented the development, the Bank that financed the development, and previously owned (but still work with the day to day operations) the Real Estate company that marketed the development,” said by a resident who didn't want to be named.

“We thought the devastating road repairs that took several years to complete and had impacted accessing the hill, and had truckload after truckload of the material hauled away from the site and placed it yards, in city parks, outside schools and at the local businesses, was enough, now this,” said by a resident who didn't want to be named.

Regulators still do not know what effect the material could have on public health, but EPA documents obtained, showed that the agency found potentially deadly asbestos fibers in one of 4 samples taken from the developments sprawling piles of rock in 2012.

The EPA and Washington State Department of Health, is now scrambling to gauge the public health risk, and is preparing to issue guidelines about how residents should live with this nuisance, including warnings not to move, or work with the material when it’s dry, to avoid stirring up asbestos.

“Now, how much more do the homeowners on Burlington Hill have to take?” asked by a resident who didn't want to be named. A resident who didn't want to be named, who has a friend that suffers from asbestosis, an incurable disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibers that scars the lungs and slowly starves them of air. “Are we supposed to sit here and hold our breath?”

“Theoretically it takes just one fiber to get sick,” said by a resident who didn't want to be named. "Anybody who's not worried about it is in complete denial. You can certainly say people are going to get sick, or die, and there are going to be increased cases of cancer," said by a resident who didn't want to be named. 

“How are we going to be able explain this to friends that come to visit, or children playing all over the hill, or if you need to sell your home, we are now obligated to a full disclosure, we can’t sell our homes now ?'', asked a resident who didn't want to be named, "I don’t want to live here anymore”.

The potential of exposure and or contamination has frayed nerves in the people that reside on the hill and has further eroded confidence in the city of Burlington's government not adhering to their own regulatory policies.

In a Lawsuit filed against the city of Burlington in 2008, (regarding the road debacle), the city attorney Thomas in recent response to that suit, played down the potential for a health threat from the material.

“We are certain the city of Burlington has a legal obligation to make this right as well as moral obligations to the residences of Burlington Hill,” said by a resident who didn't want to be named.

In the Burlington Hill EPA report dated March 6th, 2013 the last paragraph says it all, “Asbestos is a known, human carcinogen (EPA 1993) and also causes serious non-cancer disease in people who are exposed. As a result, people should limit their exposures to Asbestos that occurs naturally at the Burlington Hill site”.

"Our opinion on the City’s financial statements is provided in a separate report, which includes the City’s financial statements. That report contains a finding regarding the lack of adequate internal controls to ensure accurate accounting and financial reporting".
Public Works director leaves Burlington 

When it comes to flood-anything in Skagit County, Burlington Public Works Director Chal Martin’s name almost always has been attached.

For the past 14 years, the 55-year-old former Air Force engineering officer has been an integral part of the region’s flood-fighting, transportation and planning efforts. Colleagues and friends say his expertise and ability to collaborate among government agencies and organizations and his dedication to resolving the area’s flood issues have left Skagit County in a better position overall.

After five-and-a-half years working as the public works director for the city of Burlington, Martin has resigned his position to take a new job as the public works director for the city of Bremerton. His last day is May 29.

His expertise in all things flood has made him invaluable, said Dan Berentson, Skagit County’s natural resources division manager who worked with Martin when he was working for Skagit County.

“Over the years, he’s been helpful in organizing our community and in talking to agencies and elected officials,” Berentson said.