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Port rescinds contract with Godstream

Deciding there were too many contingencies and unanswered questions, the Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to rescind approval of a contract paying Godstream Technologies, LLC to oversee portions of its Sustainable Energy and Economic Development project.

“I came here thinking one way, but what I learned tonight led me to go the other way,” said board president Cheryl Kincer, explaining that she did not feel comfortable signing a contract that did not have a detailed scope, timeline or deliverables.

The contract, which was initially approved by the board Nov. 13, would have paid Godstream, a venture of Kingston resident Noah Israel, at least $50,000 to identify sustainable building practices and materials that would reduce the cost of SEED’s multi-million-dollar incubator building. Israel would also deliver three “letters of intent” from tenants interested in occupying a vacant port building — not part of the SEED project, but near the site — two of which he already presented.

The contract stated that Israel would be paid $25,000 up front, then given $12,500 payments on Dec. 12 and Dec. 31.

Soon after the vote, however, questions arose about the company and the terms of the contract, with members of the public asking the port at a meeting the following day whether it had performed “due diligence” in researching the company. On Tuesday, others wanted to know if Israel was either a licensed real estate broker or contractor, where he attended school and what degree he held.

Chief Executive Officer Ken Attebery was asked to provide more details about the contract and Chief Operating Officer Tim Thomson was asked about the references and background information he obtained, but Kincer said the contract was still too vague and the largely character-based references Thomson acquired revealed Israel had no evident project management experience, formal education or current contractor’s license.

“I don’t even know how much the cost of the building is supposed to be reduced by,” she said, asking Israel, who attended the meeting with his wife, to tell her why he was “the man for the job.”

“Because I am absolutely passionate about (SEED) at every level,” Israel said, explaining that the project seemed to encapsulate his life’s work in one initiative, from using sustainable building practices to creating jobs locally. He also bristled at the notion that he needed “ivory tower” credentials to do the job. “My education is a lifetime of working with people that have created buildings from the ground up out of the dirt and the trees.”

Commissioner Larry Stokes said he did not fault Israel for lacking a college degree.

“I happen to be a 10th-grade dropout,” Stokes said. “(But) you led me to believe you could lease that building, and now you’re pulling that completely apart. It’s now ‘if that, if this’ – there’s all these contingencies.”

Commissioner Bill Mahan said the contract would be a “step in the right direction,” and it would be “foolish” for the port not to accept the letters of intent.

“What we need now is the leadership to continue with this project,” he said. “We need to hit the ‘play’ button on SEED to cancel out the pause.”

Stokes said he took exception to Mahan’s call for leadership.

“This project is not lacking leadership,” he said. “What this project is lacking is common sense.”

Kincer then called for a motion to rescind the contract the commissioners approved last week.

“I have always supported SEED, and I want this to go forward in the worst way,” she said. “But after hearing from the public and hearing from Mr. Israel, I am not prepared to go forward.”

Stokes seconded the motion, and he and Kincer voted to rescind, with Mahan voting no.

When asked if Israel had been paid any money since the contract had been approved on Nov. 14, Chief Financial Officer Becky Swanson said he had not.

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