City Council Holding Study Session Monday Night to Study Its Last Session

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by Scott Schaefer

The Burien City Council will be conducting a Study Session this coming Monday night, Nov. 26, beginning at 7 p.m., to basically study its controversial last session, held Monday night, Nov. 19.

This newly-scheduled meeting appears to have been arranged just so lawmakers could discuss how they should conduct their own meetings – all apparently inspired by what happened at the council’s most recent (and possibly most controversial/unusual) meeting on Monday, Nov. 19 (read our previous coverage – with video of the unusual ending – here).

That session ended prematurely when Deputy Mayor Rose Clark suddenly called a “recess” after Jack Block Jr. made motions that she apparently didn’t agree with, and that were passing easily since Mayor Brian Bennett and Councilmember Joan McGilton were absent.

As we previously reported, Block made a motion that would put on the April ballot a choice for voters to elect a city mayor. Burien’s current form of government is a council/city manager one.

Block earlier moved to rescind the city’s designation of unincorporated North Highline as a potential annexation area, despite objections by Clark and Councilmember Gerald Robison, who both noted there was no urgency in acting on that motion.

But Block and Councilmembers Bob Edgar and Lucy Krakowiak got the vote and prevailed by a 3-2 margin.

Clark then abruptly called a recess, and she and Robison walked out, effectively ending the meeting.

NOTE: While we’re not experts in Robert’s Rules, one item we found confusing is whether Clark actually had the right to call a recess, then walk out and end the last meeting. We reviewed the city council policy documents (included in the PDF packet here), and could not find anything on ending a meeting in that manner. All that’s mentioned is that meetings can only be ended by calling for it to adjourn; and a second councilmember must second that motion and a vote taken before the meeting can end:


With no further business to come before the Council, the Mayor shall entertain a motion to adjourn. Councilmembers will vote on the motion to adjourn in the same manner as other motions. (10/24/05)

Another interesting item in Monday’s packet (download PDF here) is this two-page letter addressed to councilmembers from City Manager Mike Martin, clarifying some of the controversial actions from the last meeting:

Wed., Nov. 21, 2012


There are several procedural issues I would like to clarify for you. These stem either from the November 19th council meeting or from your questions subsequent to that meeting. (For Example, item #3 arose after the council meeting). A copy of this memo will be part of your November 26th packet.

1. Adopted motion to remove Area Y from Potential Annexation AreaThis motion is not self-executing. It will require action by both King County and the City of Burien to amend their Comprehensive Plans.Jack asked that the Boundary Review Board be notified of the action November 19th to remove area Y from Burien’s PAA. The BRB staff was already informed of that action.

2. Pending motion to put change of government on election ballot

Per Robert’s Rules of Order, the motion on the table when the last meeting adjourned is considered “unfinished business” and needs to be the first item of business at the next meeting. Accordingly, the City Clerk has placed this on the agenda for the November 26 study session.If adopted, this motion would not be self-executing. To put the change of government issue on the election ballot would require a Council resolution.

3. Possible recession of motions adopted by less than majority of entire Council.

Per Robert’s Rules of Order, a motion adopted at one Council meeting may be rescinded at a subsequent meeting by making a motion to rescind the prior motion.As stated in Robert’s rules and the MRSC website:

“When the group wishes to annul some action, a motion to rescind is in order at any time. If prior notice has been given to the group that this action will be considered, the motion to rescind can pass with a simple majority vote; however, if no prior notice has been given, the vote requires a two-thirds majority.”

Motions to rescind actions not supported by the majority of the Council are consistent with the ultimate goal of Robert’s Rules, which is stated on the MRSC website as follows:

“The rights of the minority must be protected, but the will of the majority must prevail. Persons who don’t share the point of vie of the majority have a right to their ideas presented for consideration, but ultimately the majority will determine what the Council will or will not do.”<

4. Ending a meeting by one or more Councilmembers leaving the meeting and thereby elimination the quorum.

Under the Open Public Meetings Act, four Councilmembers must be present in order to have a quorum for conducting a meeting and transacting City business. If one or more Councilmembers leave the meeting and thereby eliminate the quorum, the meeting would no longer be in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act.

Please contact me or Craig if you have questions or comments. Please don’t email the rest of the Council about this, in order to avoid open meetings violation.


This could be a lively night, so you might want to mark your calendar to attend, watch it online here, or set your DVR to record Channel 21 at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 26.

Here’s the agenda:

7:00 p.m.





a. Motion to Place on the April 2013 Special Election the Choice of a Mayor Council Form of Government or a City Manager Council Form of Government. (Unfinished business from 11/19 meeting)

b. Discussion on Council Policies and Procedures. (City Manager)

c. Review of Study Session Topics and Retreat Notes. (City Manager)


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34 Responses to “City Council Holding Study Session Monday Night to Study Its Last Session”
  1. Wheels says:

    A classic example of Martin failing to answer a question when he doesn’t like the answer. The question put to him was whether it was legal or ethical for Clark to unilaterally end the meeting by walking out. The answer is onbviously that it is not ethical, and probably not legal. He flat refused to answer the question.

  2. mago says:

    This just seems so bad to have in your city government. Such a disconnect in consensus and confidence in your system. Very happy to not have been annexed! Do not want to say we are represented in this type of behavior.

    Two words: Naughty list!

  3. Tom says:

    I hope that we can all remember these actions when elections roll around again. ” I don’t like the game, so I will take my ball and go home”

  4. John Poitras says:

    Rose Clark was clearly in violation of Roberts Rules in ending the council meeting in the manner she did.. There was no motion to adjourn there was no second and there was not vote. She was in violation of proper conduct for a council meeting and she absolutely should be censured for it.

    NOTE: While we’re not experts in Robert’s Rules, one item we found confusing is whether Clark actually had the right to call a recess, then walk out and end the last meeting. We reviewed the city council policy documents (included in the PDF packet here), and could not find anything on ending a meeting in that manner. All that’s mentioned is that meetings can only be ended by calling for it to adjourn; and a second councilmember must second that motion before the meeting can end:
    With no further business to come before the Council, the Mayor shall entertain a motion to adjourn. Councilmembers will vote on the motion to adjourn in the same manner as other motions.

  5. chuck says:

    Scott, Kudos for the article. Since I was not able to attend that meeting, your analysis of the council’s actions is very helpful.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. chuck says:

    Scott, Kudos for the article. Since I was not able to attend that meeting, your analysis of the council’s actions is very helpful. A great big thank yo to whomever recorded the meeting and made it available. It allows for review of the actual words used by the councilmemebrs. They can’t say “I never said that”.

    Keep up the good work.

  7. Ghost of Maewild says:

    Why was this the straw that broke the camels back for Clark and Robison? Up until that point the meeting was humming right along,and many decisions were made by the ” limited” council that evening.

  8. SD says:

    I’m not sure how the Open Public Meetings Act relates if no meeting/business took place after Rose and Jerry walked out. Was there a compliance violation that occurred? Given the manner in which the meeting ended, I would have expected the City Manager to include the city’s own meeting adjournment procure to the list of procedural issues to be discussed.

  9. Hotrodgal says:

    According to Martins agenda packet for Monday, he has already decided the previous vote to place the Mayor/CM issue on the ballot is void, hence his listing it as unfinished business.

    It seems to me that the vote was taken prior to the questionable ending of the meeting. Is that vote indeed invalid or is Mr. Martin’s assumption in question?

    Because both Martin and his backers (the majority on the council) will surely snuff the issue, how can we, the citizens of Burien, force its inclusion on the ballot? Does anyone here know how that is done?

    It frightens me that we are in a situation where our current city government is able to refuse us the opportunity to VOTE on how our city is governed.

  10. SD says:

    From the video, it appears Rose squelched a vote on the Mayor/CM motion by unilaterally recessing the meeting, and then Jerry walked out, leaving the Council without a quorum. So, I don’t think a vote ever happened, and that’s why it’s on the agenda as unfinished business. Or did a vote happen after the video ended, and that’s why the City Manager cites the Open Public Meeting Act as one of the procedural issues?

  11. wheels says:

    What are these people afraid of? Mike Martin can run for mayor if he wants, and if he is doing the great job he says he is, then he should be elected in a landslide.

  12. Hotrodgal says:

    You are right SD.
    I just reviewed the video again and a vote was indeed not taken before the meeting was adjourned.

    As, I’m sure Martin will be pointing out, when Jerry walked out, any vote taken after that would have been invalid.

    I do hope Rose’s emotionally charged choice to adjourn, outside of normal protocol, will be dealt with. To me, it seemed to have been a last ditch effort, on her part, to keep a controversial issue from being voted on while the meeting was on her watch (when the majority vote wasn’t on her side).

    Hopefully, Mondays meeting will allow the Burien citizens a voting choice in the upcoming election.

  13. Chris says:

    Jack’s attempt to make a motion regarding potential change in government was underhanded given the absence of other council members.

    Rose essentially puting a halt to the motion by simply leaving was also riciculous. Definitely against parli-pro. She should be reprimanded for that (however that is done).

    As far as Martin’s explaination in the council packet, he’s correct on all accounts. The motion by Block should’ve been in resolution form. Doesn’t mean it can’t be done later. And the issue regarding the PAA is also correct.

    Not a Mike Martin apologist, but his message in the packet merely clarified what had transpired and gave information on proper procedures.

  14. Brian says:

    Is Burien going to have a similar drama like the City of Pacific??? These kinds of issues should be brought to the attention of the major media.

    I would think there is a way for the people to have a petition and force it onto the ballot.

    • FOUL says:

      Oh, what a perfect example of what can happen in a Mayor/Council form of government. Yeah Pacific.

      • Eaton B. Verz says:

        Ya foul, but with an elected mayor you always have the option of recall. We are stuck with mike martin until we are able to vote out his cabal. Might be too late by then…….

        • FOUL says:

          Eaton, do you have any perception at all at the cost of a recall? And they still haven’t accomplished that in Pacific. This guy has brought the city down to the point where insurance won’t cover them. Do you get what that implies? You have concerns about a City Manager that is controlling everything and making poor decisions. However, the council still has the ability to cancel a contract. Martin can be fired. A mayor can’t. Cabal or not. Mayor Sun won the popular vote, so the majority of the citizens voted for him. He’s still in office. All of the enlightened, we know best, citizens voted this nut case into office. And he’s still there.

          • Eaton B. Verz says:

            Foull, Do you have any perception of how much Mike Martin has cost Burien? without any recourse? In Pacific, Sun held a succesful write in campain and won. At least they got to have a say in what they got. Meanwhile we get Martin pissing away our money and then raising our taxes. He’s got us on a downward path and all we can do is watch the council majority go along with it. The only difference right now between Burien and Pacific is the citizens of Pacific have the option to make a change. We are stuck until the next election cycle.Ya, good deal in my book……..Eaton

  15. Ex Burien Merchant says:

    The words “no urgency” or “not urgent” should not be part of any council member’s vocabulary. Our city has lost it’s downtown core and shopping district. There used to be a reason people would come to Burien. Now, because of the Council and Discover Burien putting no URGENCY on helping our retail merchants, they are gone. Without urgency on topics that they don’t wish to discuss, what more will we lose?

    Walking out of meetings is not the example of leadership that I think Ms. Clark was referring to .

  16. ATKMH says:

    Okay, if there was a different council majority, Martin would be reigned in, correct? Council is still the legislative body with an elected Mayor. Instead of a City Manager, you’d have a City Administrator with a Mayor/Council government. Just the extra salary to pay.

    • SD says:

      I suspect the minority would not renew the City Manager’s contract; however I do recall Lucy requesting that the City Manager provide a report showing the form a government in similar size cities. I believe this was in the context of Burien growing in size with the addition of Area X. I’m not sure what that report showed. Perhaps the Council was already considering changing the form of government regardless of the concerns surrounding the City Manager’s performance?!?!

      With regard to the need to fund an extra salary with a mayor/council form of government, is the City Administrator position you mentioned a given or is this a position that is at the discretion of the mayor?

  17. Fred says:

    To Scott Schaffer-

    This is what you wrote as the lead to this blog article,”The Burien City Council will be conducting a Study Session this coming Monday night, Nov. 26, beginning at 7 p.m., to basically study its controversial last session, held Monday night, Nov. 19.” This statement is not entirely correct.

    In truth, the current city council meeting topic that is scheduled for this Monday’s Council work session was decided on last October-Council Procedures.
    It is in no way related in timing to the Nov. 19th meeting. Feel free to go back and check when the Council scheduled the topic of this work session from the city’s meetings and agenda site.

    Additionally, at least one Council member has been asking for this topic since January of this year because the Council procedures have not been updated since 2005-before Mike Martin came. I have seen this Council member request it more than one time in watching the Council sessions on TV. The council procedures were out of date and incorrect. Also notice that the city staff worked on the updates in May, 2012. That is also shown in the Council packet for this meeting. So the real question is why has it taken the Council so long to get to updating and correcting its procedures and policies?

    I might suggest it is due to laziness on some Council members parts and a lack of interest and indifference in quality government by these Council members as well as the City Manager. They would rather be watching Monday night football than doing the job they ran for office for.

    To Foul, By Stander and other city staff, advisory board members and wanna be city politicians who have added their two cents under their many changing Blog names-

    Since the opening of Town Square 2008?, the Council and Mike Martin/City Manager have not worked on anything meaningful for the core part of the City of Burien. The Ex Burien Merchant has hit it on the Head in his comments about the business climate. Both the City Manager and the Council have been extremely lazy about many of the important issues and the budget in the city. Additionally, Mike Martin has been responsible for losing millions of dollars in lawsuits by the city and dithering away expensive staff time on mis-managed issues. We still do not have a Shoreline Master Plan due to incompetence by him and David Johanson. We have lost valuable staff members because of Martin’s management style and attitudes. This is a great expense to the city and citizens.

    81% of the cities in Washington have elected mayors. Only 19% of the cities are run by a city manager like Martin. Currently the citizens have no say in the mayor or who the city is run by. In the informal survey done by this blog, the majority of citizens wanted an elected mayor. Jack brought this topic up before and Martin made sure there was not enough time to cover the topic at that meeting,opps ran out of time.

    So why are some of the Council members so afraid of letting the citizens have a say in the kind of government they have in Burien? Anyone on an advisory board who has ever brought this up at a meeting has been threatened behind closed doors by some Council members and the city manager to never speak of changing the form of govt. again. Why?

    I thank Jack and Lucy for bringing this change of govt. topic forward. They did nothing illegal/unethical except reflect what the citizens have voiced as citizen interest. Thanks to both of them and I hope citizens in Burien finally get to vote on the form of govt. they want.

    Frankly, I’m tired of the undemocratic form of govt. we have had to keep because a group of 4 Council members keep blocking ANY CHANGES and refuse to listen to citizen concerns. They hide their phone numbers, addreses and are never available to meet with citizens. I don’t need to mention their names. Their sour attitudes and constant complaints about having to attend meetings, that meetings can never go beyond 9pm, they don’t want to do study sessions or retreats or hear from citizens makes it clear who they are. And they read this blog and know who they are, too.

  18. Hotrodgal says:

    If the Nov. 19th meeting’s end is deemed void wouldn’t’ it also void any votes taken (PPA, nuisance ordinance, etc) at the meeting?

    As far as the Mayor/Council discussion; I think if we can get people on the city council that are more publicly geared, problems with our city manager may resolve themselves.

    I would think the city manager has only as much control over our city’s major projects and public stance as the city council allows him and if he were to initiate acts against a more publicly-loyal council’s wishes, he would probably be stopped from doing so or replaced.

    • John Poitras says:

      You are correct Hotrodgal…

      We need new blood on the city council so that Mr Martin will no longer be able to refer to our city government as “his council” .
      It is supposed to be the PEOPLES COUNCIL!
      Accountability requires actual WORK be done to research and exercise oversight, something the lazier members of “his council” are unwilling to do.
      They are quiet content with the status quo of letting him run the show regardless of the mismanagement and squandering of city tax dollars that would be better spent elsewhere. I am having trouble just getting an accounting of exactly how much we squandered to the ill conceived attempt at annexation. “HIS council” could care less.
      The Council needs to stop listening to “the man behind the curtain” Gordon Shaw and his cronies that are still thick with Martin and “his council” and start listening to the residents like Jack, Lucy and Bob do.

      • jim clingan says:

        If you pay close attention, here, Mr Poitras, you may learn something. Your ghostwriter knows how to request information from the city. It’s called a Public Information Request. You can get the information that way. The other way is she just asks her husband, the council member. I’m sure Ms Edgar can fill you in on the details

        • John Poitras says:

          The QUESTION Jim is WHY does the Council not want to be transparent and WHY do they not want to know how much tax payer $$$$ was wasted on the annexation attempt?
          What do you have against transparency and accountability in our city gov’t?
          Of course we will do a PIR if necessary and I suspect that is the only way we will get a full accounting of how many hundreds of thousands were flushed down the potty.

          I think it pretty obviou that you are one of those behind the curtain with Gordon Shaw and a few others making it as hard as possible for residents to force the City Council to do their JOB they were ELECTED to do? They were not appointed like you…
          btw I think there should be term limits on appointed positions like the Land Commission. My guess is you are opposed to that also?

          • PJ says:


            you expose the fact that all this money was “wasted” on the potential annexation of area Y, what I fail to understand is how you can justify all of the “wasted” money that comes from all of the requests by certain individual citizen’s and council members when most of this information is on the City’s website that could be obtained without wasting the $ of the City, on staff time….

  19. John Poitras says:

    No PJ the information of how much money was spent on annexation is NOT available on the city website. If information is requested that is on the web site then OBVIOUSLY the requester would (or should be) referred to it by the city staff.. Also unlike you apparently I understand that the city staff in effect work for the residents. Their salaries are paid for by the residents and if the council is unwilling to exercise the oversight and accountability of where large sums of money are spent, then it is money WELL SPENT by staff to provide it to any resident that wants that transparency because in this case it exposes the scope of government waste. Your argument is a red herring that has been used before by Mr Martin to avoid exposing his mismanagement of city funds.

    • PJ says:

      You are right the City staff does get paid by the citizen’s of Burien (those who pay taxes), however your argument/logic- or lack there of, defies to justify the additional cost of what it takes staff to do all the EXTRA little projects of the few citizen’s and council members that are continually requesting these items. I know you justify it in your own head, because it is something that you gain from, WELL GUESS WHAT IT IS NOT JUST ABOUT YOU!!!

      • ATKMH says:


        A review of the invoices, attached to the minutes, should give you the information without the necessity of a public records request. I get annoyed with council members that continually ask staff to do the council member’s job. Only a few of the council members seem to be able or competent enough to complete research on their own. The amount of time it takes to complete a public records request is unbelievable. I see it every day in other municipalities. It creates an unreasonable burden on staff to complete these requests within statutorially established guidelines, especially when you take into account the retrieval of e-mail messages. But a few council members deem city staff as their chattel to do their bidding at their request because they are too lazy or uncommitted to take it upon theirselves to do the research themselves. Someone else is asked to prepare the information for them. The study session agendas are prepared and approved by council. If they had a clue they could put that item on it as a priority. However, they fail to do so. But let’s blame someone else for their oversight. This constant conveying of blame is not only ridiculous by unresponsible. New council members are usually guilty of this. They need copies of everything from the day of inception. Agendas, with attachments; minutes; ordinances; resolutions are available onlline. If you are too darn lazy or busy to spend some time researching yourself maybe you’ve picked the wrong position. Agenda packets are delivered to council members, even though they are available on line, at their request, and might I add by a certain time every week. Every agenda item is known at least 4 days prior to a meeting. That includes all attachments, even though they are online. So please don’t spend your time complaining about requests that aren’t completed. Get off your couch and research the item. Stop expecting someone else to do your job and then criticize/complain about someone else for not responding timely. If you can’t handle the responsibilities that the position brings, don’t blame someone else. Get out. Recognize your own shortcomings and stop blaming others for your personal lack of performance.

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