City Keeps Mike Martin On, Requires Amended Contract


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by Ralph Nichols

The Burien City Council imposed on Monday (May 11th) strict “alcohol-related conditions” with which City Manager Mike Martin must “comply fully” if he is to retain that position. Martin is scheduled to be arraigned in King County District Court Friday on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The conditions are included in an amendment to Martin’s contract (download and view PDF here), which was approved without discussion with a 6-1 vote by city lawmakers. Councilwoman Lucy Krakowiak, who publicly called for Martin’s ouster following his arrest for allegedly driving under the influence, cast the dissenting vote. She also cast the lone vote against Martin when the council hired him as city manager in January 2007.

Here’s a portion of the amended contract – click to view the entire document:


(click to view entire contract)

Martin, 55, was arrested after a minor traffic accident on April 19 in which his car left the road and hit a yard planter. The King County Sheriff’s deputy who made the arrest said Martin’s breath smelled of alcohol at the time. He was formally charged with DUI by the King County Prosecutor’s office on May 6th.

Martin, who told the deputy that he had had a couple of glasses of wine and two beers, refused to perform field sobriety tests or take a Breathalyzer test when he was arrested. As a result, his driver’s license was suspended when formal DUI charges were filed, as required by state law.

Refusal to take a Breathalyzer test results in the automatic suspension of a driver’s license for one year, although motorists may seek reinstatement of driving privileges if they have an alcohol-ignition interlock device – which prevents an engine from starting if they have been drinking alcohol – installed in their vehicle.

In agreeing to the addition of alcohol-related conditions to his contract, Martin denied committing “any wrongful or criminal act,” but acknowledged “that the facts and circumstances of his arrest may constitute ‘cause’ to terminate his employment under the Orginal Agreement.”

The council, in turn, recognized “the excellent performance” of Martin over the past 2½ years and opted to retain him as city manager if he agreed to the additional conditions. Burien Mayor Joan McGilton and Martin signed the amended contract on Monday.

Under the terms of Martin’s amended contract, he “will not report to work at the city or remain at work or on duty while under the influence of alcohol,” which is defined as a blood alcohol level of .02 percent or above.

Martin is required to submit to random alcohol testing without prior notice to ensure compliance with this condition. In addition, he is to submit to alcohol testing at the request of the mayor (or deputy mayor in the mayor’s absence) and one other council member if there is a good-faith “articulated suspicion by any person that the manager has reported to work or remained at work under the influence of alcohol.”

He also must apply for and install at his own expense an ignition-interlock device on any vehicle that he drives to or from work or while on the job. Each interlock device is to remain in use for two years.

And Martin is required to undergo alcohol assessment and “comply with any treatment recommendations” that are made.

He is to meet quarterly with council members in executive session “to affirm his compliance” with all conditions. Failure to comply with any of them will result in his termination. In two years, the council will review with him the additional requirements to determine if they still are needed.

In October 2005, Martin resigned from a top administrative position with the City of Kent after a hit-and-run accident that he admitted to causing. He paid a $1,025 fine, underwent alcohol-abuse assessment, and attended a victim-impact alcohol and drug panel for that incident.

On April 19th, after Martin was arrested, he was driven home by a sheriff’s deputy – prompting some citizens to ask The B-Town Blog if the city manager had received preferential treatment.

But the answer, according to several law enforcement agencies, is no.

Washington State Patrol public information officer Daniel Coon said how motorists arrested for DUI are handled depends on each county. If a county can take an individual into its jail, they may be booked into the facility. But “if there is no room at the inn, so to speak,” a driver may be released after the car is impounded and taken to a location where they can sober up. This sometimes involves taking the driver home.

Here’s a video that explains how ignition-interlock devices work:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qpl270Qre4M

So…what do YOU think? Please take our poll below:

Did the City of Burien do the right thing by amending Mike Martin's contract?

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Comments

8 Responses to “City Keeps Mike Martin On, Requires Amended Contract”
  1. Jim Branson says:

    "Whereas the Manager denies that he committed any wrogful or criminal act…." In other words, he is not taking responsibility for his actions. The Council is helping him avoid responsibility. This contract is not at all the same as Mr. Martin facing up to his problem and apologizing to the citizens of Burien. If the Council won't fire him, then the Council needs to be fired on election day.

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  2. I tend to agree with Jim, I think a public apology would go a long way in this situation.

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  3. Jamie Manzo says:

    I'm so disappointed in Burien. YUK !!! I cant believe the city of Burien is selling it's residence this bill of crap. He's not remorseful in the genuine since. It's like talking to your kids when you catch them. If he was so sorry he would've stepped down "on his own"
    He has a problem and needs help. but will he wants it for himself the disease will continue.
    When trust is lost it must be earned back, I believe showing grace & mercy but we're talking about a man in a position of authority. I believe Burien has stepped into the role of enabling Mr Martin. When you want truly help someone there is a level in which you take a firm stand for what is right and wrong.
    Burien you were wrong this time and I'm sorry you've played this political game.

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  4. Bjoi says:

    I'm so disappointed in Burien. YUK !!! I cant believe the city of Burien is selling it's residence this bill of crap. He's not remorseful in the genuine since. It's like talking to your kids when you catch them. If he was so sorry he would've stepped down "on his own"
    He has a problem and needs help. But if he doesnt want it for himself the disease will continue.
    When trust is lost it must be earned back, I believe showing grace & mercy but we're talking about a man in a position of authority. I believe Burien has stepped into the role of enabling Mr Martin. When you truly want to help someone there is a level in which you take a firm stand for what is right and wrong.
    Burien you were wrong this time and I'm sorry you've played this political game.

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  5. cyndi says:

    Burien has done the right thing – 2 years too late. If they were going to hire someone with an alcohol problem they should have had these caviats in his original contract. Now that he has violated the trust of those that went out on a limb and hired him in the first place, these actions are necessary but unfortunate. No one should berate Councilwoman Krakowiak for her outspoken opposition to personnel decisions that were clearly not in the city's best interest. This was a council mistake that hopefully is now rectified. The onus is on the City Manager – and hopefully the council has learned an obvious lesson. Burien's image is not too good right now.

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  6. Susan says:

    I'm totally guessing here but I suspect there may be a legal issue where they couldn't just terminate his employment. Obviously we don't know what happened behind closed doors, but for example if someone approaches human resources and states that they have an alcohol problem, it could fall under the ADA and then the employer has to allow the employee to get treatment and straighten up their act. I don't know if any of this happened, I'm just saying it may not be as cut and dry as it looks. But it's still disappointing… I agree, it should have been dealt with at the beginning and not after another incident.

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    • MIranda says:

      Susan,
      Most often, City Managers are "at will" employees and their contracts state that they can be terminated without cause or reason given. They simply serve at the pleasure of the City Council. ADA doesn't matter in this type of situation. However, there is usually some sort of severance package that a City Manager would get if terminated without cause such as X number of months salary.

      Of course, we don't know if Martin's orginal contract had wording making him an at will employee or not.

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