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

by Scott Schaefer [1]

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 [2]).

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 [3]), 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 [3]) 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 [4], 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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