LETTER/POLL: ‘Citizens Would Like to See Burien Run by an Elected City Mayor’
To The B-Town Blog Editor:
At the July 2, 2012 Burien City Council meeting, some of the Council members spoke out about the lack of transparency in how the Burien City Manager Mike Martin was operating and his lack of public respect for citizens who oppose his views on annexation. I want to thank those council members for speaking out.
At the June 21, 2012 annexation outreach meeting, Mr. Martin called all Burien citizens who shared his view to annex Area Y/White Center/North Highline good hard working families. He harshly referred to the Burien citizens who opposed the annexation of Area Y as “small minded and mean spirited”. This was a clear attempt to stereotype and vilify any Burien citizen who opposed annexation. He implied in his response that the opponents to annexation were classists. He failed to mentioned that most of the Burien opponents to annexation base their opposition to the annexation because of the finances/money that Burien does not and will not have to provide adequate services and support to both areas-Burien and Area Y and the financial debt Burien will have at the end of 10 years-somewhere between $73 to $91 million dollars. It was a clear attempt to polarize Burien citizens and Area Y residents against each other. It appears that Mr. Martin is acting in a disrespectful and harassing manner to some of the Burien citizens when he makes public statements like this. He should apologize. Jack Block spoke about this at the Council meeting. Thank you, Jack!
Additionally, there was some discussion at the Council meeting about other meetings Mr. Martin had with other service agencies without informing all of the Council members of those meetings. Those service agencies included the King County Library System and the King County Council staff. All Council members are to be informed and updated at the Council meetings of information meetings that have occurred with other cities, the county or other service agencies. This has not been happening. Mr. Martin has shown a pattern of trying to tell other service agencies how to deliver their services, manage their budgets or manage their staffs-the Highline School District, the Fire Department and the King County Library System. Most service agencies do not feel that this approach is respectful of their agencies.
Other information that was requested by Jack Block related to how much money Burien was spending to promote the annexation of Area Y. This was the second meeting that Mr. Block had requested this information and the City Manager tried to put him off again. The annexation of Area Y campaign has already cost the taxpayers of Burien thousands of dollars in staff time, meeting costs, reports and fees. Mr. Martin has been highly resistant to disclosing how much it has cost so far-in excess of $50,000. These monies are being siphoned away from serving the already tight budget of Burien-animal control services, human services like New Futures, storm water management, parks and recreation, etc.
As a result of these concerns with Mike Martin’s method of management, a request was made by Jack Block to have a report at the next council meeting on how to change the model of government in Burien. Currently Burien is controlled by the City Manager/Mike Martin who cannot be voted out of office. Many citizens would like to see Burien run by an elected City Mayor who has to be responsive to citizen concerns to retain his/her elected position. While Brian Bennett/Burien Mayor and Rose Clark/Deputy Mayor tried to squash this information request by Jack Block, some other council members supported it. Thank you to those City Council members who supported this request to bring a more democratic form of government to Burien! Council person Lucy Krakowiak said Burien is old enough as a city to have an elected mayor and stated that the information on how to make the change should be provided. If an elected mayor can bring more transparency and democracy to the Burien City government, I’m all for it. We need it right now.
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