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LETTER: ‘It’s Time for a Change’ in Burien City Government

It’s Time for a Change

Prior to the last City Council election, whatever the City Manager proposed was accepted and approved by the City Council Majority with few questions. City business went forward like a “well oiled machine.” Even project over runs and lawsuits didn’t slow down the process. Then some of the new Council Members began to ask the City Manager for more detailed information concerning progress on city goals, objectives, and finances. Unfortunately the city manager hardly ever gets around to producing the information so council can make educated decisions concerning his proposals. As an example, for the last 6 years Mr. Martin has not provided the council with the quarterly budget reports, (required by state law), even though some of the council have requested to see them.

There are four Council Members who are in lockstep with the City Manager to provide a majority vote to approve his agenda.

When 1 or 2 of these four are absent, he can’t be sure his agenda will be followed, so it appears the city manager has put on hold, a lot wof ork to which the Council should be attending.

Mike Martin and the majority of the council are refusing to work with the minority portion of the council when they cannot control the outcome. This is why city council meetings are being cancelled.

We have attended and watched many council meetings on Channel 21 for the last six years. It appears the majority of council members do not require accountability from Mr. Martin. Is this what we elected them to do? To support Mr. Martin without reading the agenda and knowing the details of his endeavors, or asking questions? It appears they are so naive they don’t even realize how useless they are when it comes to making Burien a viable well-run city.

The council minority would like to set new city goals, plan for a balanced budget, and welcome business instead of discouraging it. They want to represent the needs of the citizens, know what will be in the CARES audit, see the business plan that was promised to the businesses and citizens They want to discuss these issues in open council meetings so everyone will know what is happening. They also want to discuss the Council’s work manual, the issues concerning Town Square and the new Recreation Center promised to citizens in 2008.

In November and December council meetings were cancelled. Two recent council planning retreats were also cancelled. The Planning Commission has not met for three months. The city manager refuses to answer questions from council members when they are trying to gather information for Burien citizens. How long can this dysfunctional city management go on?

Coming into 2013 we see this same thing happening. The manager just cancelled a council planning retreat. Every time meetings are cancelled, it is because one or two council members will have to be absent, even though the city can do business with the five or six council members that are present for the meeting. The result is city business has come to a halt.

Since Mr. Martin and company seem to be supporting their own agenda and have no concern for those who must pay for their escapades, or perhaps for all of the reasons above, we should be looking to change the form of government to a Mayor who is elected by the people that love Burien and want to see it prosper. We voted to incorporate. We are capable of changing the structure of it. It looks like the responsibility belongs to the citizens because their representatives are not willing to do it.

– Robert & Robbie Howell

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