OPINION: Mike Martin Must Tell The Truth Or Resign

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An Editorial by Jim Branson

At Monday’s City Council meeting, several prominent Burien citizens spoke up for City Manager Mike Martin, saying he has done a good job and he deserves another chance. They said he shouldn’t be judged before the facts were known.

Former Council Member Jack Block Jr. said he (Block) had the disease of alcoholism, he had sought treatment for it, and it did not stop him from being a contributing member of society as long as he took the right steps.

One difference between Mr. Block and Mr. Martin is the admission of having a problem.

Mr. Martin has had plenty of chances to come forward and explain what happened.

The Seattle Times reports:

“Martin’s breath strongly smelled of alcohol, his speech was slurred and he said he had consumed a couple of glasses of wine and two beers, a deputy wrote in a report.”

That is something that needs explaining. If Mr. Martin wants to protect himself from paying the legal consequences for his actions, he was smart to refuse the sobriety test and the breathalyzer. If Mr. Martin is serious about serving the City of Burien, he could have, while he had the microphone at Monday’s meeting, said he was sorry. He could have given a minimal explanation of what led up to the accident. If he shouldn’t be judged before the facts are known, then why doesn’t he tell us the facts? At a minimum, if he couldn’t discuss the matter for legal reasons, he could have apologized to the Council and to the City for putting Burien citizens at risk, whatever the reason or circumstances. He could have outlined his plan to make sure nothing like that ever happened again.

Ideally, he could have offered his resignation and let the Council decide whether they would accept it at that point or discuss it further.

Instead, he went on with his report as if his DUI arrest weren’t the burning issue on everyone’s mind. Yes, the City does have many other important matters to discuss, but first we need to know if the person we rely on most for our public safety and fiscal well-being is someone we can really trust.

It is not only in the City’s best interests for Mr. Martin to explain himself; it is ultimately in his best interests. If he has a drinking problem, he needs to seek treatment before he kills himself or someone else. If he hopes to have a future in Burien, where he has purchased a home, he needs to resolve this quickly and openly. If he hopes to ever have another meaningful job after leaving this one, it would be in his best interests to address the matter directly, without equivocation.

The City Council tip-toed around the issue, adjourning to executive session to discuss “a personnel issue,” as if everyone didn’t already know they were going to talk about Mr. Martin’s DUI. What do they need to discuss in private that they couldn’t discuss in public? A negotiation or a settlement? How to spin this incident for the least damage to Burien’s image? The way to handle it with the least damage for all would be to discuss it openly and honestly. Although Mr. Martin has passed up many opportunities to speak, he can, at any time, explain to the Citizens of Burien what exactly happened and why he should or should not continue as Burien’s City Manager. The longer he waits, the more he and the City Council discuss how to deal with the situation instead of actually dealing with it, the more it looks like he, and they, have something to hide.

The way to deal with the Mr. Martin’s accident is to tell the truth. He doesn’t need a lawyer for that.

If he can’t tell us the truth, he has no business being our City Manager.

So, what do YOU think Mike Martin should do? Please answer our poll:

What do you think City Manager Mike Martin should do about his DUI issue?

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: Jim Branson is a longtime area resident and outspoken activist. Previously, he wrote an editorial on “Earth Hour” that received quite a few Comments from Readers.

What do you think of his opinion on Mike Martin? Please Comment below.

Also if you have an opinion about a local issue, or a “Letter to the Editor” you’d like us to post, please email us.]

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9 Responses to “OPINION: Mike Martin Must Tell The Truth Or Resign”
  1. L. Storer says:

    Mr. Martin needs to come clean and get help. Right now he's deep in denial; not good for himself or for the City of Burien.

  2. Chris says:

    I applaud you Mr. Branson on you poignant perspective on the issue. Do you not also find it interesting to see only outspoken favor from residents at the council meeting and public forums? Is it not also interesting that opposition to Mr. Martin retaining his position has been in letters, on blogs and through avenues which allow far more critical perspectives to be voiced? Why did no one stand before the council last night and plainly ask for a resignation of Mr. Martin and the council? I will assume is is far more comfortable to stand on our soap boxes, free of judgement on ourselves from behind the mask of a computer.

  3. Jim Branson says:

    I say things in writing, rather than in person, because I want to choose my words carefully and avoid being misunderstood, if possible. I did not go to the council meeting to ask Mr. Martin to come clean because I was certain he would say something during the meeting. I watched the meeting at home, and I was truly surprised he didn't say something about it–apology, admission, denial, or anything. How could anyone, after 2008 being a year full of non-stop televised politics, not know that coming forward sooner always works out better than coming out with the truth later?

    Plenty of people have judged me when I have voiced my opinion from behind a computer. I will agree that it is more comfortable, though.

  4. Bob says:

    Asking for an apology is fine. Why he's not talking is probably PR or legal advice. I think crucifying this guy is each person's prerogative. In the end what will matter is how our legal system, and government institutions handle his errors in judgement.

    For B-Town, I just hope the best! Keep your voice heard!!!

  5. Sal says:

    I noted several things in the Times article- first, this is not Mr. Martin's first offense and second, refusal to take a breathalyzer test is automatic suspension of one's license. If true, the first indicates that Burien has already given Mr. Martin a "second chance" and the second begs the question how he will respond to unplanned situations that require his attendance if he cannot drive. Will the City supply him with a driver? I also want to ask each Council member if there is a third incident and personal injury results- as opposed to a clay pot- will each of them be willing to take responsibility for their role?

  6. Rupert says:

    Mike Martin is one of the good guys. All you people who judge him so harshly are just lucky you haven't been caught yet as well.

  7. Heidi says:

    Such controversy and judgement outside of the courts.
    Has he even had a court date yet? People make mistakes and not one individual can judge that fact. Take a good look in the mirror before you start throwing rocks at someone else for making a mistake.
    He seems like a hard woking individual who has done alot for the City of Burien and if residents wanted a fictious non human mistakeless character to help Burien succeed you might want to rethink your thoughts about throwing rocks because a mistakeless human doesn't exist!

  8. Rupert Commented "Mike Martin is one of the good guys. All you people who judge him so harshly are just lucky you haven't been caught yet as well. "

    Well Rupert, I have been caught and trust me- it is better to admit that you have a problem, get help for it and move on. The fact that Mr. Martin neither admits to anything or denies he did anyhting wrong is pure denial. Denial of the problem doesn't it make it go away no does it? He signed a contract with the city of Burien saying he would manage the city, if he can't manage himself, then he has no business here. He is also becoming a liability to the city- if he repeats his drunken driving and next time kills someone or hurts them- the city is in for a devastating lawsuit.

  9. K Baker says:

    Is the economic growth of Burien more important than our public safety? The only councel person with a backbone and the willingness to stand up for what is right is Lucy. Where are the rest of them on this issue? Busy pushing through anexation I supose.

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