LETTER: City Council Candidate Joey Martinez Responds To Bob Edgar’s Letter

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There are several things I feel are wrong or ignored with Mr. Edgar’s letter (read it here). First, there is no alternative offered. Instead, all I read is blaming and rebuking, how about solutions?

Secondly, Mr. Edgar ignores several issues on “contracts” and costs. Seattle provides its own General and levy funded fire and police department. It also provides its own Housing Authority (Seattle Housing Authority) and Library system. Public Safety in Seattle is allocated about 58% of Seattle’s General Fund alone. Seattle Public Library uses about 1%-2% . About the same for the Seattle Housing Authority.

Burien dedicates about 43% of its budget to Public Safety. Whether our own police department would be cheaper or more expensive is debate-able and I am open to it. Certainly initial costs will be high, but longer term we would be able to negotiate our own contract with the Police Guild if we have our own police department.

If we stay with King County Sheriffs office, I would push to keep those deputies assigned to Area Y on the County’s dime for at least the duration of Guild’s contract. If we don’t annex, they have to pay anyway. If we annex, they save in other ways.

In regards to the tax rate in Burien: As a Seattle City Employee, I strongly believe we provide a higher quality of life to our citizens than Seattle does, overall. I would work to dedicate more money to Parks and Recreation, but that discussion is for another time. If we decide to charge ourselves more in taxes for a better life, that is our decision. It is one I am proud of, personally.

In Regard to Contracting services: I do believe that city workers are more efficient, and better able to care for our city than any contract agency can. They develop institutional knowledge and are better able to care for the city in the long term, at cheaper rates, than contracting out those services ever will be. However, I believe that many of the “contracted services” Burien would provide for White Center are in the areas of public and mental health, as well as other services uniquely required by Area Y. Over time, with the proper investments those services would be able to go away.

In Regards to the Crime rate: The crime in Area Y does not stay in Area Y. It leaks to Seattle and to our northern Burien residents by crossing that invisible line. If Area Y stays unincorporated or joins Seattle, I feel nothing will be done and the area will continue to be neglected.

I feel annexing Area Y and investing in the youth and young adults with more focused parks and recreation will lower the crime rates, over time. Studies have consistently shown that investing in our youth, in part with better Parks and Recreation has the effect of integrating these individuals into the community and making them prosper. When they prosper, we prosper on so many levels. They pay taxes, they have kids, they buy houses, and groceries. They go out to dinner, and join soccer leagues. Studies also show that ignoring youth only leads to crime. Instead of helping our youth succeed we will be paying for 3 hots and a cot. It will take 10 years or so, but in the long term, I feel it will be the cheapest, most cost effective solution. I have much more to say on this issue, but don’t want to deflect on my response to this letter.

In Regards to Severe Infrastructure problems: Yes, that area has been neglected for decades by King County. It has served as a dumping ground for lower income people with little political clout. When is the last time low incoming housing was built in Bellevue?

I would push for more concessions from King County. They are playing a serious poker game with us and have been unblinking in their poker face. However, I feel they are just holding their cards close and trying to get as cheap a deal as possible. There are areas I know we can probe. We can ask for more from King County, areas they are willing or able to cave-into Burien in exchange for annexing Area Y. Long term, they see it as a savings and would be willing if we only ask. Many of these concessions will help off-set the infrastructure neglect that has occurred for decades.

Additionally, these fixes will take time as it is impossible to do all of the required work at once even if we had a dedicated $77 million in the bank. We will be able to plan for and schedule this work over many years if not a decade. The roads in the area are bad for sure, however, they’re nicer and less bone jarring than Seattle, overall.

With the $50 million the State of Washington is offering in Sales Tax we can accomplish the most critical needs right away. I would push for a portion of that to invest in Parks and Recreation for Area Y and the rest of Burien to begin the process investing in youth instead of incarcerating youth.

In Regards to Area Y costing more than the extra $5 million a year from the State: I do not agree with this statement. The cost to Burien’s General fund (SFD, Library, Housing) will not be there. King County is trying to dump area Y on Burien, but I believe we can get a better deal than what is on the table from them. I believe there is enough available to make it worth Burien’s while, if we ask for and fight for the right things from King County. I believe I am that person to lead this fight.

In Regards to the 10 year sales tax running out: If we invest properly in infrastructure, quality of life and our youth I believe Burien will be far better off than we are today. The $50 million will be a jumping off point to bigger and greater things for Burien and Area Y residents.

In regards to the general concern of reports to the Council and never quite showing up as explained by Mr. Edgar; that is an issue. I would push for increased accountability to all citizens of Burien. It’s your money, you’re paying for it, and you get what you want if I am elected.

There is a lot of rhetoric on both sides of Annexation, however, I feel that short and long term Annexation is the right thing to do for both Burien and Area Y. If elected, I will use my “insider knowledge” to probe and ask for the right consessions from King County.

Area Y is separated by an invisible line from Burien. They have been neglected by King County for decades and yet, they are not doing so bad. In fact, I would say they are thriving! In 10 to 20 years, whomever ultimately annexes Area Y will be glad they did. Let’s use this window to annex before Seattle takes it and continues what King County started decades ago. It can only help the rest of Burien.

If you’re wondering what separates me from Mr. Shaw on annexation, as previously stated, it is the insider knowledge some of the cards King County is hoping we don’t look at. In addition, I wish to invest in the future of Burien by targeting money to the right areas to lower crime and increase youth who are productive members of society.

What separates me from both candidates is that I have experience in taking policy set by Council and enabling and enacting those wishes, successfully. If elected, I will use this knowledge to increase efficiencies and either get more bang for your tax payer buck or lower costs.

– Joey Martinez
Martinez for Burien City Council
Candidate for City Council Pos. #4

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23 Responses to “LETTER: City Council Candidate Joey Martinez Responds To Bob Edgar’s Letter”
  1. Get a clue burien city council says:

    Let me see if I got this straight it will take “10 years or so” supporting youth in the white center area to change 3 generations of poverty and crime.

    Mr martinez you’ll fit in great with the current city council.

    It’s not rocket science. If the county is desperately trying to get rid of it there is a reason.

    The city of Seattle has repeatedly passed on annexation of white center. Hmmmmm wonder why??????

    Simple numbers, would you rather spread the yearly loss white center has plus the 77 million in delayed infrastructure projects over 600,000 residents of Seattle or 60,000 in burien?

    • In Reply to GACBCC: I believe and studies repeatedly show that this investment is worthwhile. Imagine we started tomorrow, 10 years from now would be 2021. If you can effectively change those lives from today’s 15 year old on that is a generation unto its own. Not that I would limit to 15 year olds.

      King County is trying to “dump” the area because they’ve squeezed the area for all they could. There is little room for more low income housing. In effect, I believe King County has finished “trashing” the area and is moving on to other locations. They also see that we as Burien as well as Highline School District tax payers are tired of being dumped on.

      I also believe that the simple numbers are more favorable to White Center and Burien than it would be to White Center and Seattle. If Seattle annexes, I don’t forsee much change in the area. The City of Seattle directly pays for more services than Burien and that is why it is not favorable to them.

      If White Center joins Seattle they will also join a much larger backlog of infrastructure repairs.

  2. SD says:

    Mr. Martinez, thank you for your thorough response. Would you please provide comment on Mr. Edgar’s closing statement, as well: “Show the citizens the written budget report on Area X and how it will be funded after the tax credits run out and the financial analysis on the White Center/Area Y before any additional annexations are considered by Burien?” I’m certainly not a numbers person, but the bottom line is important to me. What can you tell us about how Area X will be funded after the tax credits run out and how the financial analysis pencils out for Area Y? Thank you

    • In reply to SD: Those are very good questions that Mr Edgar raised. Those numbers do need to be made public. Where I differ is that I stated that I would do my best to make sure that info is available. It’s our money paying for that data, it belongs to us.

      I am basing my opinions on my own research as well as data pubilcly available to all. I would agree that there is AT LEAST the appearance of non full disclosure. And that needs to change.

  3. concerned citizen says:

    Insider knowledge about some of the cards the county is holding? Everybody knows the county is broke. They have nothing left to offer. BTW that is true insider knowledge.

    Not sure if in house Police would be a cost savings, but if it is anything like the in house public works department, I would have serious questions. Sure they clean the garbages at the bus stops. Sure they took over the landscape and sidewalk vegetation, but what else have they done? Yes they bought a brand new, very expensive slope mower that they have sort of used. Historically King County has the whole city mowed by now and are starting over again. I have not heard of nor seen any actual “projects” being done.

    I would speculate that some of the monies from Area X have gone to fund Team Kent, Mike Martin & PWD Larry Blanchard, massive leap into in house roads maintenance. Why start so big? Why buy so much Brand New equipment? Why not start with landscaping and a small crew like Sea-Tac did? Build from there. Hard to figure where all the money is coming from when the street and storm budget before Area X was just under a million dollars yearly.

    Has council or the PWD given any reason why the next phase of 1st avenue has been “put on hold.” Could it have anything to do with cost over runs from Ambaum & S 128 ST? Why put so much money into Ambaum when 1st ave is the mainline of Burien?

    Well thats my 2 cents. Burien has the rest…

    • In Response to CC: It is true that King County is struggling in the General Fund. The areas I would target to keep on the County’s dime are areas they would have to pay for anyway if nobody annexes Area Y. I would also target specific non-general fund monies. I feel there is area to deal with King County through out its different levies collected either directly or indirectly.

      In the rest of your comment you do raise good issues, and these and other concerns are areas I would look to champion. I am all for in-house work, as long as it’s done the right way.

  4. Eaton B. Verz says:

    Joey, Do I recall correctly that you were against annexation when you announced your candidacy?

    • In Reply to EBV: I did say that I would find it difficult to support annexation. I based those facts, in part on my perception of White Center, the executive report from Seattle, and other peoples interpretation of that report.

      Since that time (early June) I’ve spent about 20 hours of my personal time researching the publicly available data from Burien, Seattle, the Highline School district, as well as other areas of the country who invested heavily in parks and recreation. I’ve even spent time driving around the Area X, Area Y, and Seattle and even talked to a handful of Area X residents in North Burien.

      That told me that Burien has the best roads, and White Center’s roads are not bad. Seattle’s roads were bone jarring, same as the rest of the city.

      I noticed the business district with no vacant buildings and just watched how busy those businesses were. I noticed some crime, and also some kids having a great time playing outside. It reminded me of my own youth growing up in East Los Angeles in one of the worst and poorest neighborhoods in this country.

      After taking all of that in, I had a change of heart and came to my own conclusion that annexation is the right thing to do, for Area Y as well as for Burien. It’s the right thing to do financially, socially, and morally, especially if we can get the additional hidden consecessions from King County.

      Thank you

      • Additonally, I have not been endorsed by anyone. No one has contributed to my campaign with any ties in White Center. And I’ve not been approached by the North Highline Council or any other group representing white center or any other part of annexation.

        I fully and independently came to the conclusion based on my own research of the issue.

        Thanks again, and thanks for “calling me out” on my previous statement.

  5. A little off topic but any City Council candidate that puts their face on the line at the new Pie Joust, August 19th will show how far they will go to support our community. It benefits a grass-roots bike share initiative in Burien called B-Townies. Details and registration at http://www.btownies.com.

  6. Okay, a lot off topic.

  7. Get a clue burien city council says:

    So there is little room for more low income housing because king county has squeezed the area but burien needs to annex white center to prevent more low income housing from going in??????

    • That is exactly correct GACBCC. They will continue to fill the area, in spite of it being overburdened as it is.

      I will also re-state the second part of that claim, that was left out in your rebuttal: The tax payers of Burien and the Highline School District (also includes SeaTac, Des Moines, Normandy Park…) are tired of being dumped on by King County. Unless King County is stopped Burien and HSD taxpayers will continue to shoulder an unfair tax burden for the rest of the county.

  8. Get a clue burien city council says:

    Like I said, you’ll fit in great on the burien city council.

    • Also, I started off against annexation. I began my research to gather “ammunition” to wage my campaign as an ANTI-Annexation candidate. The more I dug and researched into the issue, the less I found to use against annexation. In fact, I have found more and more “ammunition” that has lead me to change my stance and say, that with the right consessions, I am IN FAVOR of Annexation.

  9. Al says:

    Why all the focus on the low income, you know we do have hard working
    tax paying residents in North Highline! (White Center) What we don’t
    have is representation just like the people of Burien were not represented
    before they became a city. Think back and then you would know what is
    like to live here and have everyone talk about you like you have the plague.

  10. Get a clue burien city council says:

    The thing of it is the election is meaningless because even if every incumbent loses that supports annexation there are still enough pro votes. And I think annexation will be approved before nov anyway.

  11. Give Us a Real Reason Against Annexation says:

    Bravo Mr. Martinez. What sickens me about this annexation debate is that the anti-annexation gang can’t give a solid answer as to why they don’t want Area Y, but when I have talked to several people in person, they show their true racist colors. The real reason some Burien residents don’t want Area Y? Its minority citizens. These closed-minded bigots are convinced that the entire city of Burien is going to devolve to inner LA should we annex the area. Shame on you all. I wholeheartedly agree that as we become one community and invest in kids, libraries, parks, etc, the entire community is better for it.

  12. Thom Grey says:

    Duh Dudes,
    So you want some facts. White Center and Blvd. Park –the North Highline Area- had a larger combined population than the whole City of Burien-34,000+ residents in North Highline. So why didn’t North Highline join together to create a city. Duh, it wasn’t a racism issue; it was pure economics-money. No consultant would write a report that stated that the area was a viable city economically. Three times as many children live with parents that are unemployed in White Center than in Burien. Two times as many kids live with parents that are unemployed in Blvd. Park than in Burien. Dudes, what this means-no matter what the race-is these people pay no taxes and have huge economic needs-housing, food, clothing, medical-emergency room service, translating and emotional needs. Burien is a little puttsville city and had less of a combined population than both of these very needy areas. Most of these White Center folks live in low income housing. These housing units pay little to no property taxes. Again, the area they live in is contributing very little to the tax base. Most of these folks need lots of social services, monthly. This requests money from the tax base to support them. So who ends up paying the bills? Well right now the whole of King County is. However if they are annexed to Burien, the small tax paying part of the Burien population will end up covering the cost of these folks. Then there is the concentration of crime and domestic violence that seems to go hand and hand with these areas and runs up the police bills, legal costs to represent these folks and court costs. Since Burien has annexed Blvd. Park, domestic violence crimes have gone up 34%. Gang activity reports/crimes have gone up 66%. Dudes, this is a no brainer. If all of King County can’t afford to support this area and its needs; Puttsville Burien can’t afford it either. It never has been a race issue, it is a hot potato issue about pure dollars and cents. So stop trying to drum this up to be about race. Also Joey Dude, I drive around Seattle neighborhoods all of the time and their streets are not the bone jarring experiences that you keep exaggerating them to be. A number of streets in Burien, Blvd. Park and White Center-King County are worse. Klunk, Klunk!

  13. Liz says:

    I was in to the City of Burien on an unrelated matter this week and was told that annexation was moving forward “in a couple weeks” by a City staff member. So apparently this has been decided before any public vote.

  14. Shari says:

    I watched the video of Monday’s Council meeting and it seems like the Councilmembers themselves won’t be receiving a full report with data until Aug. 1 and the Councilmembers who were at the meeting (a couple were absent) seemed to agree on the need to have a formal presentation of the final report and its data at the Aug. 1 Council meeting (presentation only, I believe) and to hold the discussion of the report and data at the Aug. 15 meeting. One Councilmember said they’d need to allow public comment so that the public can tell them all the reasons why annexation shouldn’t happen; a couple of other members seemed in favor of annexation and seemed to be eager to discuss their rationales. The Councilmembers who were present did all seem to agree that they need the actual data set and more time to thoughtfully consider things and to have public input. Not sure if they specified a gameplan or process for getting public input other than at the Council Meetings.

    If anybody else out there was at the meeting or watched the video, did I get it right?

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