Gordon Shaw Says Time Away From Council Meetings Has No Impact On Job

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by Ralph Nichols

What impact, if any, does Burien City Councilman Gordon Shaw’s annual travel to New Zealand have on council business and his ability to represent city residents?

“None,” Mayor Joan McGilton told The B-Town Blog Oct. 25. “We all have things that we have to do. I was out for six weeks this summer for surgery. Did that hurt the council? No.”

Shaw is “absolutely up to speed when he returns” each year, she added.

McGilton responded to a recent Comment on The B-Town Blog by May B. Black, who said Shaw “misses at least 25% of the meetings and what is going on at the council … then it takes him another month to get back up to speed on the issues because he has been gone for so long.”

But Shaw stressed that these trips have “no effect” on council activity while he is in New Zealand during the first part of each year, and that “they do not affect me by being behind” when he gets back.

“I take a computer with me, I follow the meetings on the Internet, and I stay up on issues. I’m also in frequent email contact with the city.”

What really matters is how he represents Burien residents and what he accomplishes for the city in the long run, he said.

“Typically I’m gone for a month or two. Probably over the last eight years I’ve averaged six to eight weeks a year” away from council meetings,” Shaw said of his New Zealand trips. “That is one-sixth of a year, not 25 percent.”

He has owned property in New Zealand since 1991 when he was on the Planning Commission. “It was a big issue when I first ran for council. It was used against me in that campaign,” Shaw continued.

Since then, “the voters have basically known about me being gone. It’s up to them to decide whether the job I do for the city is worse” because of his travel “or is still worth their vote.”

City council meetings represent “only about one-third of the job I do for the city,” Shaw said. “The other two-thirds is being out and about in the community and working behind the scenes to get things done.”

A major goal for Shaw is opening the Northeast Redevelopment Area beneath Sea-Tac International Airport’s northern flight path to business activity.

“First we were told no retail sales would be allowed there, despite the fact that nobody sleeps in the businesses at night,” he said. “Then we were told no off ramp from [SR] 518 would be allowed for access there.

Now both barriers have been removed. “Those two things I did outside any meeting time at council,” Shaw said. “I also want to see an auto mall there, and we’re close to that. That’s all work that gets done by the relationships I’ve built up with the Port of Seattle.”

Asked if Shaw’s absence is disruptive to council business, City Manager Mike Martin also said it isn’t.

“The short answer is no,” Martin said. “In five years here, I can’t recall a time that having a person gone has slowed the council … not in the least.”

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30 Responses to “Gordon Shaw Says Time Away From Council Meetings Has No Impact On Job”
  1. michael says:

    Sorry BTB but the second picture of Councilman Shaw is cheap shot on your part.

    • Suzanne Greive says:

      I 100% agree Michael.

    • Coverofnight says:

      I see a picture of a guy studying a computer screen at a Council meeting…..where’s the cheap shot? Looks to me like he’s paying attention. As for the trips, according to a BTB article of June 10, the councilmembers are paid $600 per month. That works out to about $ 3.75 an hour – you guys want him to stay here for that? I got no problem with his trips if he’s in contact with everyone electronically – a guy’s gotta make a living doing other things if that’s the minimal amount the council pays.

      As for whether I’ll vote for him or not – I agree with Neil; having a tough time trying to grasp who wants annexation and who doesn’t. Maybe the BTB can get all the candidates to answer simply “yes” or “no” to that question.

  2. Neil says:

    I have a hard time trying to grasp what Councilman Shaw’s position is on things. On the voter ballot that we got he is saying that he favors a small town atmosphere for Burien and that he will approach with caution any annexation plan for White Center and will only proceed if the numbers match up. But than he rushed thru with the proposal to consider annexation even though Seattle wont consider annexation till 2015. Than now I find out he is getting funded by developers for his campaign. All this is painting a different picture than he is trying to potray. On the question of taking couple months off every year for vacation, he is compensated for being a councilman and this is a job and especially now that he is gung ho about getting Burien into millions of dollars in debt in order to pursue annexing an area that is so crime ridden and needs tremendous amount of work on its infra-strature, why run for this office if you dont have time to dedicate to this job. I dont think this is the right guy for the job. I am voting for Bob Edgar.

  3. Gill says:

    The Seattle City Council has stated they will be reconsidering potential annexation of North Highline by the end of February 2012.

    • Ginger B says:

      They can have it.

    • William Forest says:

      I checked with the Mayors Office and the City Councils office and was told they would NOT be considering Annexation of White Center at this time or in the near future. Was there a specific person you spoke with that made this claim?

  4. Patty says:

    How many of you would work for the compensation that is received by the City Council Members?

    There are quite a few number of narrow minded people that comment here that think annexation is the only issue facing the City of Burien. Wake up!

    • John says:

      I agree Patty. I don’t think many would otherwise they’d be running for these positions. And I don’t think the size of pay should be the number one reason someone should want to be on the council. It should be the last really.

      There are a lot of issues on the council’s list but I imagine with as much comment to annexation it is probably a hot item for some. But I do agree we should be concentrating on other items too.

    • William Forest says:

      I think the only narrow minded people are those that want to down play the most significant issue before the council.. ie ANNEXATION. Everything else is subordinate to that because of the unknown financial impact it will have on the city and the drain on its financial resources that will cause any other endeavors to be rethought and reexamined to see if the city can afford it.
      Even Gordon Shaw acknowledged at the last debate on Tuesday 10/25 that the Annexation of White Center will probably result in having to raise taxes on current Burien Residents, that crime statistics for the city would go up and that current levels of service may have to be reduced.

      • John says:

        I’ll state again annexation is not the ONLY thing Burien needs to deal with. Get a clue otherwise if all you concentrate is annexation then you are the narrow minded in this mix.

        Here’s my vote. Don’t annex keep Burien small. End of story. What else is there to debate on the subject.

  5. Mattie says:

    Mr. Forest, you might want to check out the story that this blog site posted on March 29, 2011, the day after the Seattle City Council meeting ,when the council voted to put off the decision on whether to put annexation to a vote of the North Highline residents until Feb 2012. All but one of the council members voted to revisit the issue in Feb 2012. They had the opportunity to completely take it out of their comp plan, but 7 Seattle Council members voted to keep it in the plan and make a decision in Feb 2012. You might want to view the video from the Marc 28, 2011 meeting.

    Funny that I was at the forum and did not hear Mr. Shaw make any of the statements you are claiming he said.


    • William Forest says:


      Gee.. I was sitting right up front and the last things he said were exactly what I stated. The folks I was sitting next to also noted this.
      Maybe you were in the twilight zone when he was stating those these things.. .?
      YES FACTS MATTER and your revisionist version of history is far from the facts of the matter.

      Also as far as the Seattle city council goes.. if you had actually checked it out and called yourself you would have discovered that the Seattle City council revisited this issue in the early part of the summer and decided AGAINST it. There are no plans to make any decision in February 2012… They may bring it up again but only its not an active agenda item.
      I suggest you call the mayors office and the city councils office yourself so you can speak from personal experience. Priorities and plans often change just like most things in life.

      • William Forest says:

        As far as what Seattle is planning to do on not planning to do its pretty much irrelevant to the issue before the Burien CIty Council. Seattle could not afford it and little Burien certainly cannot afford annexation either.

      • Patty says:

        The only one in the twighlight zone is you. Those with narrow minds do not see things clearly and maybe there hearing is bad as well.

        • william forest says:

          Mattie or Patty whatever you name is … since you seem to be speaking with the same voice. Let me just say that I know what I heard Gordon Shaw say at the debate. If you choose to put blinders and earplugs on that is your prerogative.

  6. Barbara says:

    Mr. Forest, I just got off the phone with Brian Hawksford, who is a staff member serving under Tom Rasmussen, who is on the Seattle City Council. He verified with the council person who is working on the annexation issue, that the annexation issue was not re-visited this summer, and no decisions have been made, nor has annexation been discussed at any Seattle Council meeting since March 28, 2011. North Highline is still in the comp plan, and Brian verified that Seattle will look at putting annexation to a vote at the Feb 2012 council meeting, that is if Burien has not moved forward. Brian said you could call him,and I suggest that you do that. (206)684.8808.

    Mr, Hawksford was quite concerned that this mis-information is being spread.

  7. Barbara says:

    Just for clarification,, Brian Hawskford’s concern was that rumors are being spread that the Seattle City Council made some type of decision in regard to annexation of North Highline at a council meeting this summer. He noted that this was completely false, and that it remains active and will be re-visited in Feb 2012.

    • william forest says:

      Barbara.. I will call Mr Hawksford to clarify what you say he said. I doubt its that clear cut but I will find out and share what I was told previously.

      Regardless>>> whether Seattle considers annexing White Center or not .. Tthey are a very large city and they have the resources to perform a comprehensive financial impact study unlike Burien. ANNEXATION is still a bad idea for Burien.
      Seattle .. As another poster noted.. Tare welcome to it and all the problems and costs associated with it..
      The pro-annexation candidates are using scare tactics to say that if Seattle annex’s white center they will build more affordable housing.. Well isn’t that why we have a city council , to negotiate with Seattle and other cities to mitigate this.. One thing >>>the elephant in the living room is that people fail to consider is that IF and I hope not but IF Burien jumps off a cliff and annexation of White Center occurs.. Burien will STILL be in the same position with a boundary shared with Seattle.

  8. Bobby Leon says:

    Facts haven’t really mattered to William Forest because he just makes up his own. I knew that what he was saying was not true but you beat me to the punch line, Barbara.

    All three of the pro annexation candidates have constantly stated that they favor annex
    ONLY if it is revenue neutral and only if it will not hurt the city financially. I trust all three of these gentlemen running for office and I know they will keep their word that they would not put the city in financial jeopardy.

    • william forest says:

      Bobby .. Based on WHAT data would the city decide if annexation was revenue neutral? The incomplete and contradictory data provided by the various incarnations of the Berk report?? The potential tax credits from a State that has a 2 Billion $$ deficit? The negative intangible factors like increased crime , reduction of services and likely tax increases?
      I don’t trust any of the PRO ANNEXATION candidates to stop their push for annexation and because the math is so fuzzy they have coverage.
      SInce you are so trusting of politicians who will say anything to alleviate their unpopular stand on a position to get elected… I have some lovely swamp land in Florida you might be interested in.

      • william forest says:

        Oh and btw Bobby.. If you were at the meeting on Oct 25th and don’t remember what Mr Shaw said thats one thing.. but if you are calling me a liar based on hearsay and innuendo then that confirms my opinion of you. I don’t think you would know a fact if it dropped out of the sky and splattered on your head.

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