LETTER: ‘A Response to Ralph Nichols’ Story on Annexation Vote’

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This letter is in response to The B-Town Blog posting done by Ralph Nichols: “City of Burien puts North Highline Annexation on the Nov. Ballot” (read that post here).

Mr. Nichols misses a few of the important points of what happened at that meeting. Mayor Brian Bennett did not really attend the meeting. He was home sick in bed. Strangely when the vote on annexation came up and Mike Martin knew that he was not going to get the votes to pass it, Brian Bennett arrived to the meeting just in time to vote on that one issue and then left. Could it be that Mike Martin called to get him out of bed to come in just for this vote?

Also had Jerry Robison done the honorable thing and disclosed his real relationship with the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council and recused himself, it would have failed.

The Council is clearly not together on what is perhaps one of the most financially important issues in the City’s history. Contrary to whatever Joan McGilton blathered on about, 13 reports that Burien and King County have paid for at tax payer expense on the annexation of Area Y/White Center, all say that in the long run Burien will be financially worse off for annexing this area.

Ms. McGilton did not attend the Boundary Review Board (BRB) meetings but if she had, she would have noticed that they seriously questioned the Berk Report on why it was coming in as a Draft and not Final report and that the figures in the report did not add up. When BRB asked the city’s financial manager for justification for inflation she replied they used “best guesses” which were proven wrong when property value trends were updated. The BRB did not say that it was a fine, detailed report as Ms. McGilton intimated. The BRB was also concerned enough about the lack of an agreement between the fire districts to write a special provision. They remarked publicly that they have never approved an annexation application with this type of condition. This required agreement has still not happened but if and when it does, the taxpayers of Burien will be stuck paying off millions to cover costs resulting from poor management practices of the North Highline Fire District.

Numerous times Lucy K. has asked to have demonstrated how the sales tax credits will be generated. Mike Martin has evaded this issue and never presented this to the public or the Council. The state still has not confirmed that this money will be there or guaranteed for the future.

Yes, citizens wanted the vote in November to demonstrate the best democratic process. Some might say that is settled and citizens should be pleased. But from the beginning of these serious discussions, the issues of financial sustainability and feasibility of this venture have yet to be resolved. The annexation of Area Y/White Center continues to be a fiscal gamble, especially in these uncertain economic times but council members McGilton, Clark and Robison still keep trying to sell it to the public as though it is the best thing for everyone. These council members have forgotten that their first responsibility is to the citizens of Burien.

– Debi Wagner

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32 Responses to “LETTER: ‘A Response to Ralph Nichols’ Story on Annexation Vote’”
  1. JJ Greive says:

    Debbie, really, “the honorable thing”??? Don’t think you should be passing out honors. The most qualified member of the council on the issues is a incredible asset to the ENTIRE community. His involvement in Burien and all of the area gives him insite and grasp of the issues some obviously don’t possess.

    A very noisy few do not a majority make, no matter how loud they are.

    Let the people vote.

    • Eaton B. Verz says:

      ” had Jerry Robison done the honorable thing” That is the funniest line I have heard in a while!!!! An honorable lawyer….LOL.. I’m sure he has a bridge he would like to sell you!……Still giggling…….Thanx

    • William Forest says:


      The irony is that you and your group are the noisiest FEW in the entire area.
      I also can’t let your ridiculous comment about Jerry Robison being the most qualified member of the council pass without comment.. First of all if the mailer had gone out to the residents of Burien identifying Debbie as ANTI ANNEXATION and or Jerry Robison had been honest and let people know how PRO ANNEXATION he was .. It would be Debbie Wagner sitting in his seat on the council and we would all be much better off.

  2. Debi is right says:

    Sorry JJ, she’s right. ‘Most qualified member of the council’ ?? Not really. Questionable integrity with a conflict of interest issue. Definitely has a personal agenda.

    The entire issue is irrelevant because as Debi points out… the first (& only) responsibility this council has is to the residents of Burien. That’s just how it works… except in this case.

    I do wonder though if all the supporters would continue supporting annexation if we lose the $5 million sales tax credit. It sure looks that way. I might be there this year but unlikely to stay in place 10 years. So then it’s, what? The right thing to do? Irresponsible way to spend Burien tax dollars.

    I’m suspicious of process here. I’m going to do some investigating & submit public records requests to put this puzzle together. Rushed process, Mayor brought in just to vote, no time pressure (I think we have over a year to consider it). Something isn’t right.

    • Joey Martinez says:

      I’m curious how you’ve come to the conclusion that the tax credit is unlikely to be there for the entire 10 years? Also, The entire council has stated time and time again “no tax credit, no annexation”.

      If it’s simple postulation then I could just as easily say “what if they doubled the tax credit” or “what if they doubled the time it was good for”? I would never do that because it would be irresponsible of me. The best anyone can do, including the city of Burien, is to form a plan based on the best available data and based on the laws, rules, and regulations of that time. No one can truly know the future but can guess by looking at the past. The tax credit has survived previous legislatures and is most likely to survive this one. To me that means it should survive another 10 years.

      We could play “what-ifs” until the cows come home, but at some point a decision has to be made. A decision has been made and the next step is to have North Highline vote. If you’re against (or for) annexation I urge you to contribute to a “no” Pac, to volunteer to knock on doors, and talk to the residents expressing your point of view. I’d also urge you to read each study, take it from within the context it was written for, and make a complete decision based on the entire picture.

      Joey Martinez

      • raquel davis says:

        Olympia can’t even pass a budget; they are looking for all the fat they can trim. The tax credit might be axed before the vote takes place. As far as looking at the past (40 years for me) for guessing on the future, one would come to the conclusion that White Center isn’t going to ever be anything to write home about.

  3. Ed Dacy says:

    Conflict of Interest?

    There has been charges that his is North Highline Unicorprated Council’s Lawyer. he is not. He was a member when it was formed.

    IIt is my understanding that he has NO professional relationship to it. The only thing I have seen is an false charge that he is its lawyer.

    On the Mayor coming to the meeting late. it did look like he was not feeling well. I am sure that he was watching it on line and came to meeting when he thought he should and stayed for what he could.

  4. For Burien says:

    The meeting was set up to make sure the annexation would pass. The mayor was not there and Robison shoulnot been authorized to vote, That is the way Burien operates.

    • Jennifer says:

      Why is it that Robison shouldn’t vote??? Because he is part of the new part of Burien? Was he not elected to office? This conversation is so ridiculous. I agree Joey when he says that the council is making the best decision based on the information that is available. I know that there are those that feel that the councl is just foolishly moving forward with annexation however; this is a conversation and a process that has been going on for ten years. I don’t believe it is being rushed, if that was the case white center would have already been annexed.
      I also, don’t appreciate your sentiment on white center Raquel. You should visit some of the wonderful business’ in this community. The salvedorean bakery is amazing as is Green Bridge (home to a library & the boys & girls club). Guess what I am a resident of Burien (25+ years).

  5. Bob Price says:

    I was going to answer MS Wager’s letter with all the expert information but it would be a waste of time. Also all the people that have decided that Mr Robinson works for the NHAUC. For the past 14 years I have seen Mr Robinson at meetings but only in a concerned ciitizen status. I wonder what gives all these people the in site on the workings of the NHAUC without even attending a meeting. I’m sure they walk on water but I am also sure they get the top of their heads wet. Also the vote as I saw it was done openly and by the book and for the life of me I cannot see how IT WAS RIGGED? I can only say that a few of the council can look ahead to problems and think with their brains and not their emotions and any special interests. Also they always blame Mr Martin when their way of thinking is not realized. Mr Martin has done and is doing a great job for Burien and at no time have I seen any questionable behavior on his part. He has always been truthful as he sees it and up front. That’s more than I can say for the complainers. If they would at least operate with facts and not guess or preconceived ideas they might have some credibility. Thanks .Bob Price

    • Lee Moyer says:

      Hey Bob,
      You don’t understand the system. You don’t need to attend meetings and study issues. Some one just has to make an unfounded statement and if the vocal locals like it, they repeat it enough times to make it a fact.

    • Gabby says:

      Bob Price,
      You are the guy who recently went to a Burien City Council Meeting and publicly accused and tried to embrass Lucy K./council person of violating campaign law. You implied that she stole campaign signs. Then members of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC), some relative/wife of yours is an officer in the group I think, attacked her for being honest and recusing herself on the library board vote. Lucy voted for the the libraries at the council meeting as a Burien leader and had to disclose that to the Library Board. Greg Duff and all of your buddies went into the full attack mode on her because she had ethics on this voting issue. So when people talk about game playing, the members of the NHUAC are always in the public attack mode if it serves their purpose. Also as I recall, the NHUAC said that the only reason North Highline should join Burien was to keep their property values and taxes low but they wanted a big loud voice and power in the city they went to and lots of services. They did not to have to pay very much but wanted the power to demand lots. What a deal for the Burien citizens who get to carry you guys on their backs and pay for all of the things you are not willing to pay taxes for. Read the report from King County done in 2005.
      Also, Mike Martin-this guy should never have had his contract renewed. He was fired from Kent for drunk driving and fleeing the accident after injuring people. No one would hire him, not ever po-dunk counties in Montana and then some idiot hires him here in Burien.Since he has been in Burien, he has again been caught for drunk driving, the city has lost a lawsuit for $14 million dollars, lost another lawsuit for about $3 million dollars, major time lost money on two road projects, destroyed animal control services-2 times, encouraged the city council to violate their own Comprehensive Plan, has had massive city staff turn over, lost the money for the seawall at Seahurst Park, never produced any real budget breakdown on the costs of annexing Area X for the public, created a mess with the Shoreline Master Plan and still has not developed a business plan. The businesses in Burien are dying while this guy fiddles around. The guy is a disaster as a city manager. You don’t even live in this city and you are trying to pass of Mike Martin as a great manager because he comes up and panders-as one citizen said-to the NHUAC?
      For Ian Gunsul-phony historian- North Highline voted not to join the City of Burien long ago because they did not want to pay the taxes to Burien,wanted fewer regulations and wanted to keep their Seattle addresses because they thought it gave them more business and political clout. They have always been in the game to get to pay the least but demand services they cannot afford. Some folks call this the noisy, expensive, freeloader approach. That is why King County has been so eager to dump the area.

  6. Bob Price says:

    You are right Lee. That;s the system. Mob rule. People who think are considered enemies of the system. But I am sure the city council will not do anything that will destroy Burien. They live there also.. But if you don’t look ahead then you fall behind. And with annexation this is and will be that last chance for Burien to expand and they must as long as they can. As to the question the guy stated ” what can White Center do for Burien.” Well they are doing it and have been doing it for years. If area X and y did not do a great deal of shopping in Burien the present Burien would not exist. Thanks. Bob

    • William Forest says:

      Bob your comments identify you as factually challenged and obviously brainwashed by the Martin- NHUAC cabal…
      To suggest that Burien would not exist except for the shoppers from White Center is not only factually off the wall and ludicrous, it begs the question of what medication you are on that so adversely affects your cognitive functions.

      • William Forest says:

        To be crystal clear on this>>>
        The founders of Burien had a vision of Burien as a SMALLl well maintained friendly town.
        This changed when Mike Martin became city manager and wanted to expand his empire.. We are now living Mike Martins vision of Burien NOT the vision of the founders or those of us that shared that vision.

        • Ian Gunsul says:

          Wrong! The original incorporporation attempts in the late 50’s and early 60’s included White Center, Burien and neighborhoods that became part of the city of Seatac. Those people had vision, not blinders. One of them was my father.

        • TcB says:

          I disagree that the founders had a vision as small. Did you vote pro or con to become a city? Remember 1 out of 4 voted con, and by the way you sound now i’d say you never wanted Burien to be a city in the first place.

        • Chris says:

          Yep, you’re way off. In speaking with those who have lived here for some time (like 30-40 years), there have been a handful of other incorporation attempts that included a much larger area. In fact, I believe there was an attempt that would’ve made a city called “Highline” way back when, and this included present-day Burien, Seatac and North Highline.

          Further, the driving force behind Burien incorporating was not to become some “little” city, but to take control from King County (due to building issues) and to provide representation for citizens to fight the Seatac runway expansion.

    • TcB says:

      Exactly right. Last chance to expand forever. Bigger cities get more attention and money from State, and they attract more interest from National business interests. When a business decides where to locate they look at city size. I know because I’ve been there.

      • William Forest says:

        Yeah right TCB.. How many investors have you been successful in attracting to area Y?

        LOL You really think thats going to change if you call it Burien? MAYBE if you were part of SEATTLE that would be true, so stop with the hype..
        Check out the original and recent VISION statements of the City of Burien especially prior to the takeover by Mike Martin.

  7. William Forest says:

    Daniel Boone ..

    Why don’t you go ahead and point out the 4 or 5 things she has wrong.. Because you don’t want to be expose yourself to intellectual ridicule or pandering to the NHUAC party line? I would be happy to go over them if you have the courage to post them.

    Don’t kid yourself anyone who knows anything about the annexation issue knows that the NHUAC is basically an PAC that used their supposedly representative council which we all know in reality only represents a small select like minded group of white center residents who have gladly climbed into bed with Mike Martin to further their annexation by Burien agenda.. Frankly anyone with a lick of objectivity would be hard pressed to pick Burien over Seattle as a city to be part of unless they had ulterior motives..

    I will take a page out of your book and not speculate on what those motives are but lets just say they are NOT to the benefit of the vast majority of the residents of either Burien or Area Y.

    • Ian Gunsul says:

      Just in case anyone missed it:

      Don’t get baited by “William Forest”. There is no one under that name registered to vote in Burien or even in the Highline area. His only interest is to stir the pot, a “troll” on issues in Burien. If he was really a concerned local he wouldn’t hide behind a fake name.

      • William Forest says:

        Gunsul … Of course thats in contrast to you who lives in a faux world you call reality.. You never debate on the merits you just snipe and try to defend the indefensible… Of course thats to be expected from a close friend of Mike Martin. attack and distract… thats what trolls do Ian.. What does that make you?

  8. Debi Wagner says:

    Mr. Bone I challenge you to provide those 4 or 5 things. I don’t think you can. Were you at the BRB meetings? Have you read those numerous studies on annexation which all agree on a deficit if Burien takes on area Y? And how do you associate me with lying to the public and how does that relate to my book? As for Jerry Robisons relationship to the NHUAC, their own minutes list him as their lawyer as recent as 6 months prior to his appointment to Burien City Council. This directly contradicts statements that have been made by bloggers and representatives of the NHUAC. But maybe you already knew that since YOU probably attend their meetings?

    • Ian Gunsul says:

      “As for Jerry Robisons relationship to the NHUAC, their own minutes list him as their lawyer as recent as 6 months prior to his appointment to Burien City Council.”

      You yourself consistently contradict your own above statement(s) by accusing Councilmember Robisn of being the current lawyer and consultant for the NHUAC. Which is it?

      • Debi Wagner says:

        Apparently Ian, you assume that six months prior means terminated at that point and it does not. In the minutes file provided by King County where his position as NHUAC attorney is mentioned there is no mention of his withdrawing. I fail to understand why you and others have a habit of reading into my comments things I haven’t said while twisting things that are plainly clear. I also wonder why I am being admonished to visit the NHUAC by members who don’t recall details of their own meetings.

  9. Bob Price says:

    In reply to the person who says he is William Forest. 1st of all when I first decided that I would favor Burien to be annexed to I had not known nor knew of anyone named Mike Martin. So you are just like your brain suggests Dead. You only think that anything true is what you believe and has nothing to do with facts. You don’t seem to have noticed all the good things that the Burien City council has completed or accomplished in the last few years. I am sure that you or your thinkers could not have taken part in them because they moved forward and you want to remain stuck in your own little world. As for the NHAUC supporting annexation to Burien it was brought about by a study conducted by King County . The study interviewed a large number of people in the Highline Area and the majority favored annexation to Burien. There fore the council voiced their wishes and continues to do so. They are not authorized to have their own opinion in their ruling. However this goes against your thinking so it is wrong. It is non thinkers like you that follow the bad thinkers and support their ideas and plans that makes a lot of the world problems. It was people like you that made Hitler and his great accomplishments happen. God help us if you non thinkers continue trying to run the world. Thanks. Bob

    • William Forest says:

      Hey Bob… Your study is bogus .. Did you just invent that and include it as part of that fictional world you call reality?.. Because its absolutely false and untrue.
      When you use the word THINK it would be more appropriate to put “quotations” around it because I am unfamiliar with meaning of the verb as it applies to your posts.

      I think the post from Gabby in response to your rant says it all so I’ll just leave it here.

  10. SD says:

    If it is fact that Robison was the attorney of record for the NHUAC and the NHUAC has been acting as a PAC– it causes me great concern that he did not recues himself from the vote. Does anyone know what the formal process is to challenge votes by city council members?

    • SD says:

      Or is there a process? I just did a cursory look at the City of Burien’s website and nothing jumped out that addressed issues such as this. It would be good for Robison to go on record as to what his affiliation is with the NHUAC and the classification of this organization — whether it is voluntarily, by mean of a formal process, or via an investigative reporter.

  11. Coverofnight says:

    Wow……30 comments on this hot topic – too many items for rebuttal, so without getting into lengthy detail:

    Gabby’s letter should be copied and sent to every voter (including William Forest) in Burien and White Center – it rocks. And a big “thumbs up” to Debi, Eaton, Mr. Forest, Debi is right and Raquel;

    for JJ, Bob Price, TcB, Ian and da Bone…..”two fingers” for you;

    for Joey Moretaxes, you’re such a stooge for this council – keep it up and we’re sure to see you do the Curly Shuffle at the next meeting.

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