OPINION: The City of Burien Needs to Slow Down on Annexation Vote

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The Burien City Council will ask King County to hold a vote on annexing the final part of the North Highline Unincorporated Area on Aug. 7.

What’s the hurry?
The City Council agreed at the March 19 meeting to vote on seeking the election at their April 2 meeting. Only Council members Lucy Krakowiak and Bob Edgar are opposed to annexation, perhaps joined by Council member Jack Block, Jr. That leaves four solid votes for seeking the election. It isn’t likely that lineup will change.

South King Media and The B-Town Blog is not, at this time, taking a position on whether annexation is good or bad – only that the election be held in November, 2012.

The Council could wait a couple of months to ask for the election to be at the Nov. 6 general election when voters will be choosing our president, our governor, our members of Congress and the U.S. Senate. Every lucid election observer knows many more will vote in the fall and when such important issues are on the ballot.

Summer elections often sink into the haze of summer fun and out-of-school kids. It is well known to election observers and candidates that the electorate doesn’t even start to get interested in elections until after Labor Day.

Minimum voter turnout?
B-Town Blog letter writer John Poitras had it right in his letter published the other day:

“Holding it in August guarantees a small turnout and minimum voter participation. Holding it a couple of months later in November guarantees much larger voter participation.”

That is critical in an area like White Center and the rest of “Area Y”. The large number of Asians, Africans, Hispanics and other non-U.S. born people in the region exacerbates the problem of election interest simply because many come from cultures where elections are either rigged for unheard of. But these people and all the rest of those in the North Highline area will be hugely affected by the annexation.

Some will say that many of these people will not vote anyway. Maybe. But added time will help these important residents understand how important the election is and decide how to vote.

Is it not fairer that as many of those voters as possible should be able to make their choice?

Another letter writer, Joey Martinez, says the county Library Board could use the later election date to decide to close a library in the Highline area. We do not think the board will rush to a decision now that it seem certain the issue of annexation will be soon solved.

Finally, we are unsure about whether Councilmember Jerry Robison should recuse himself from the annexation vote because he may as an attorney have represented a group in North Highline. We suggest only that Mr. Robison take the high road and consider recusal if a reasonable person could infer there is a conflict of interest.

The only way to end this seemingly endless debate over the annexation is to hold a vote for the people who live in the area. The extra time will give everyone who wants to vote a chance to exercise his or her franchise.

– Jack Mayne

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24 Responses to “OPINION: The City of Burien Needs to Slow Down on Annexation Vote”
  1. Mark Ufkes says:

    Thank you B-Town Blog and Jack Mayne for bringing some fairness to the discussion about when to hold the White Center annexation vote. The Burien City Council did this In the previous annexation vote, held in August, 2009. Less than 39% of the registered voters participated in that August election. In the general election three months later, voter turnout increased to 67%. Why is the Burien City Council afraid to hold the annexation election in November when there will be a higher voter turnout? Maybe its because minority voters (members from communities of color) vote significantly more often in November elections. Avoiding a higher voter turnout is a shameful way to do community building. And it is the Burien City Manager who is engineering this.

    Mark Ufkes

    • TcB says:

      Lol! Are you representing “the communities of color”? Defending them? Appointed speaker? You just want your Seattle address. We know you.

    • Chris says:

      I’ve heard this argument before. Take the tin foil of your heard folks! There’s no conspiracy going on here. They held the vote during a primary election–so what. Now, if it had been during a special election, I would be suspicious. But c’mon people, this argument is getting tired and there’s no proof besides.

  2. WC says:

    Just say NO to joining Burien!

  3. Debi Wagner says:

    I re-iterate Mark Ufkes’ words, a big thank you to B-Town blog for being brave enough to take the responsible high road on the timing of the annexation vote. At the last council meeting Rose Clark said she will be away for the April 16th meeting so if they want an election in August, they had better hold the vote when she is there on the 2nd. This implies she will vote for the August election and assumes there will be a majority on the council who are also in favor. This is despite that in the next two weeks the legislature could kill the annexation tax credit, and despite the fact the fire districts have still to work out an agreement and despite citizenry, agencies or responsible officials possibly bringing new substantive issues to the council between now and then. Now with more pro-annexation people appointed to the planning commission, it is time for residents to show up and voice their concern for the direction Burien is taking. Stand up for your city and voice your opposition to your representatives pandering to citizens who don’t even live here and who want to take over our council and city completely!

    • Al says:

      Of course you agree with Mr Ufkes, isn’t a member of your new found group that was stated to have North Highline members. While Mr. Ufkes speaks of fairness, may I ask why he is in Seattle getting money for White Center. He also works only with the businesses on the Northside of Roxbury so he can promote Seattle. The businesses he is suppose to represent as the President of the White Center Chamber of Commerce have nothing to do with him.
      He has a financial gain he has to look out for and is using minorities in the community to meet his own needs. I have no respect for someone like that. So if he is your common bond
      Ms Wagner, well that is what you can say for like company

    • Coverofnight says:

      Debi, I agree with you 100%. I also see that Joey Moretaxes is now on the planning commission – we’re hosed now that this Jay Inslee-disciple is looking out for our best interests.

      Kind of looks like this annexation vote is going to happen come hell-or-high-water regardless of what the citizens want. I hope we at least get the naming rights to “Rat City” when we take over White Center. Maybe we could then name the Council Chambers, the Rat Hole, and the members and manager could be named, well…..you get the picture.

      Thanks for the great letter, Jack.

  4. First I must say that we are not Seattle. We should not spend years discussing the same thing trying to wear each other down until “our” side wins. Secondly, The discussion of annexation has been going on for years and it was meticulous. The Council took a go slow approach to annexation, first opting to annex the southern porting of North Highline first. It is also well known that I happen to believe that the council is doing the right thing. Do I have reservations? Sure, however, overall I believe it’s the best decision for Burien, North Highline, as well as the other Highline cities now and into the future.

    I’ve stated time and time again that I would love to have an as close to 100% turnout for any election. The big asterisk on my feelings are in relation to the 5 reasons to close the North Highline libraries as stated by the KCLS board. Reason number three is directly related to annexation. Board member Bonebright herself emphatically asked, repeated, how long they have to wait for annexation to be resolved. Bonebright said that they’ve waited years and are now being asked to wait even more. Reason number five is indirect and is related to the delay caused by number 3. It is about lost savings in operational costs as well as construction costs.

    The other 3 reasons are more out of OUR control as a community but at the same time can be countered with political manuvering from within the community including having a city council representing them.

    If the B-Town Blog can contact the KCLS Library board and KCLS director Bill Ptacek and see how they feel about this potential postponement (until November) I’d be grateful. I’m sure many of your readers would be as well.

    Joey Martinez

      • elizabeth2 says:

        “Meticulous”? Joey, Joey, there has been nothing meticulous about any of this going on in Burien since Martin was hired.

        Yes. the annexation of North Highline was voted to be a “potential” for action back then. All the crazy things that have gone on in Burien re annexation for the most part have been under the watch of Martin.

        He and his term in Burien is the LAST thing that should ever be referred to as “meticulous”!

        • William forest says:

          Elizabeth .. what you say should as obvious to anyone who has lived in Burien for any length of time.. The only ones that refuse to acknowledge this “elephant in the living room” are either in bed with him or are blinder than bats..

        • Chris says:

          Totally wrong. The whole annexation issue BEGAN with the previous city manager Gary Long. That was almost EIGHT years ago. I grow tired of people crying that the city is “rushing” in to annexation.

  5. John Poitras says:

    I understand why Council Member Robison is for voter suppression by holding the vote in August. I also understand the obvious cronyism on the part of Rose Clark and Joan McGilton has them supporting an August vote also…

    I also understand that Jack Block, Bob Edgar and Lucy K are clearly not caught up in Mike Martins net and are looking out for all the residents of Burien not just the special interests and their cronies so it follows they would be for the more Democratic vote which would result from a November Election.

    What I don’t understand is why Brian Bennett who I thought was an honest politician would cast a vote against a more democratic date. Of course he has not voted yet so I will give him the benefit of the doubt AND the opportunity to show his true colors..
    I hope the rest of you will be watching also..

    • Chris says:

      So by him voting for an August date (if he does) and supporting annexation, you’re saying he’s “dishonest?” Nice….

  6. William Forest says:

    Brian Bennett is definitely the swing vote in this from what I can tell and so far he has stayed about the fray.. This vote will be his watershed moment.. Frankly I like the guy and hope he makes the choice that is best for the many not just for the few.

  7. Debi Wagner says:

    I have seen Brian vote with Joan, Rose and Jerry on every pro-annexation issue so far. One possibility ist he believes he has a political future beyond the council that depends on catering to individuals in Seattle who don’t want costly North Highline in their jurisdiction. I can’t think of any other reason for his support since this costly, risky and unnecessary move on the part of Burien is a bad idea. I think he is too smart to just go along with whatever the council has up its sleeve. Nobody with any common sense could look at a future negative millions of dollars budget and say thats OK unless they expect to be far away from that problem by then.

  8. I am really surprised at some of these comments. The words used to describe Mayor Bennett is shocking! What I’ve read is that as long as he votes against annexation he’s not under Martin’s thumb, nor practicing cronyism or suppressing votes, and standing up for the majority. However, if he votes for annexation he is all those things and/or planning some “political future” and representing a select few.

    Not speaking for the man, (Bennett), but maybe he’s looked at all of the same relevant data as you and just happened to come to a differing opinion? Perhaps?

    It’s one thing to have differing opinions on a subject, hey this is America! But to use such vitriol language never ceases to amaze me at the Federal, State, County, and local level.

    Here is the thing, I listen to and appreciate the “anti-annexation” message. I view it as a way to identify, and remedy, issues that the “pro-annexation” supporters and the City may have missed. It points out things we all need to keep an eye on. At the same time, looking at the big picture, I still believe that annexation is the right thing for Burien and North Highline. I’ve looked at all of the data that both sides and the City have offered and I’ve made my choice to support annexation.

    The “pro” and “anti” annexation camps both have the same goal. That goal is to do RIGHT by Burien and North Highline. We just happen to disagree on what that should be. As long as we all can remember that I think we will be ok.

    Joey Martinez

    • William forest says:

      JOEY .. .Your post is hysterical and completely misinterprets the previous posts and clouds the real issue under discussion here.
      Let me CLUE YOU IN! As much as you want to change the subject.. The issue in this letter is NOT about the Pro OR Anti annexation issues… And lets be quite clear on this.. You are rabidly PRO Annexation!
      Is the council going to vote for an August date which will in effect SUPPRESS voter turnout OR are they going to weigh in on the side of greater DEMOCRACY and support a GREATER VOTER PARTICIPATION by holding the vote in November when anyone who votes at all on anything will be voting.. THIS IS THE ISSUE AT HAND>
      As has been mentioned before, anyone familiar with our dysfunctional city council albeit a little less dysfunctional now that Shaw (who you campaigned for) is gonzo knows where the chips fall with the various members.. Some of them (not Brian) have repeatedly ignored the residents and common sense. Then we have members who do listen. The way I see it the mayor we have now is the best mayor we have had in a while and I have no reason to believe that when it comes time to vote for more democracy or less democracy that Brian B will not come down on the right side. So stop with the hysterics Joey.. Man up and get a clue!

  9. mike says:

    I want to know about the $5 million per year if Area Y is annexed. I have heard many different things on how this money is given to Burien. Can someone please explain in detail:
    1) How much of the $5M can/will Burien get per year and what has to happen to get it?
    2) If the $5M goes away because of state budget problems, how will Burien sustain Area Y since it doesn’t seem support itself?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Bonnie Moormeier says:

      I agree with Mike….as I understand it, $5 million is the maximum, but it is based on tax credits tied to sales revenues, so it seems it could be considerably less? Could someone clarify how it is calculated??

  10. Debi Wagner says:

    Maybe the investigative team at the blog could look into this tax credit issue and give us the real objective scoop on what will happen? How about it guys? And Joey, please really, nobody said anything bad about Brian Bennet. I only speculated at why he might be voting pro annexation. I called him smart! William said he “likes the guy” and John said he thinks he is an “honest politician.” Joey, do you know the meaning of “vitriol language?” I’m stirring the pot a little here because I hope to get another huge belly laugh from Coverofnight!

  11. Nabby says:

    Burien’s current mayor went to another country to promote how the democratic process works and protection of the environment. While in law school he claims to have been a strong supporter of animal rights. Read his statements of who he claims he is on the city web site and from his campaign materials.

    While on the Burien City Council, he has not been a strong supporter of animal rights and has not voted to have the animal control run by the City of Burien or by CARES carefully examined or to even give a comprehensive report to the City Council on what they are doing. He has not voted for responsible animal control.He would not even vote to be the third member of the council to put the topic on the agenda-Edgar and Lucy requested it be put on the agenda. Without a third vote the topic cannot even be discussed. He has voted against the protection of the environment on city issues.

    Now the Council is trying to decide whether to even put annexation on ballot. The majority of citizens in Burien are opposed to this by the informal polls take in the media. However, if annexation does make it to the ballot, the majority of citizens have asked that it be put on the November ballot to protect the democratic vote.

    It would be nice to see Burien’s Mayor/Brian Bennett walk his talk about animal rights, the environment and the concept of democracy. Let’s have a report on animal rights and if annexation does make it to the ballot-hopefully the mayor will vote to have it on the November ballot-in the interest of democracy.

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