Burien Council Evaluation: City Manager Mike Martin’s Future on Razor’s Edge


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Photo of Burien City Manager Mike Martin by Michael Brunk.

by Ralph Nichols

A one-vote swing in the current political balance on the Burien City Council in the municipal elections this fall could mark the end of Mike Martin’s tenure as city manager.

That Martin is on the razor’s edge is clearly indicated by his annual job evaluation by council members, done last November and obtained recently from the city through a Freedom of Information request by the B-Town Blog.

The current minority faction on the council – now-Deputy Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Council members Jack Block Jr. and Bob Edgar – rated his overall job performance as unsatisfactory.

Each gave him an overall score of “1” – “not developed,” the lowest possible rating.

Mayor Brian Bennett and Council members Rose Clark and Joan McGilton each gave Martin overall evaluation scores of “5” – “outstanding performance,” the highest rating.

Councilman Gerald Robison gave him a “4” for “very strong.”

Bennett, Block, Clark and McGilton’s terms expire this Dec. 31. None has yet publicly stated whether they will seek re-election.

But three hopefuls have announced they will run for council positions: Lauren Berkowitz, who said she will challenge Block; and Marlene Allbright and Joey Martinez, neither of whom has declared which seats they will seek.

Martinez, a political newcomer in 2011, finished third in the primary election that year behind Edgar and then-Councilman Gordon Shaw.

Specific categories of expected job performance for which Martin was evaluated and the scores each council members gave him are:

Community Relations:

  • Bennett – 5
  • Block – 1
  • Clark – 5
  • Edgar – 1
  • Krakowiak – 1
  • McGilton – 4
  • Robison – 4

Intergovernmental Relations:

  • Bennett – 5
  • Block – 2
  • Clark – 5
  • Edgar – 1
  • Krakowiak – 1
  • McGilton – 5
  • Robison – 5

Communication:

  • Bennett – 5
  • Block – 1
  • Clark – 5
  • Edgar – 1
  • Krakowiak – 1
  • McGilton – 4
  • Robison – 4

Policy Making/Vision Implementation:

  • Bennett – 5
  • Block – 1
  • Clark – 5
  • Edgar – 1
  • Krakowiak – 1
  • McGilton – 5
  • Robison – 4

Management of Organization

  • Bennett – 5
  • Block – 1
  • Clark – 5
  • Edgar – 2
  • Krakowiak – 1
  • McGilton – 5
  • Robison – 5

Martin’s comments in response – a self-evaluation in each of these areas – generally rated his job performance as good, but also allowed room for improvement.

Lucy Krakowiak

Back Accusation with Evidence
The most pointed criticism of Martin – categorically denied in sharp response by him – came later in an email from Krakowiak.

“Due to the tone of a past meeting that you and I had that you initiated, I have chosen to communicate with you via the phone rather than in person for the last 5 years,” Krakowiak wrote.

“This past experience is the basis for including a condition when we meet to discuss this matter. A neutral facilitator what we both agree on needs to be present and part of the discussion. I believe that this would be beneficial to both us us and more importantly, our city.”

Krakowiak strongly opposed the hiring of Martin in 2007 to replace Gary Long, the previous city manager, whose firing she participated in.

Her objections to Martin included a prior alcohol-related traffic incident that he had been involved in. After becoming Burien city manager, Martin had another such incident and Krakowiak demanded that he be fired.

Instead, a majority of council members, including then-Mayor Joan McGilton, retained him on condition that he fulfill certain conditions – including alcohol abuse counseling – which he did.

“Lucy added her allegation about a meeting we had some five or six years ago,” Martin countered in an email to all council members. “She asserts I somehow misbehaved. This is entirely, patently false and repeating it doesn’t make [it] any more true.

“If there is any evidence of this – any – Lucy needs to bring it forward so it can be acted upon, because this is a serious allegation,” he continued.

“At any rate, if Lucy or any of you feel the need to further air this or any other issue, with or without me present, the place to do it would be in executive session.”

Comments: Point/Counterpoint
Written comments by council members in support of their ratings of Martin, both pro and con, reflect the discord on this council – and minority members’ disdain for him.

In general, Martin’s opponents on the council accused him of dividing rather than uniting the city. Council members who support him, however, credit him with facilitating community stability and progress.

[Note: The following remarks – appearing alphabetically – are excerpted from written comments by both council members and Martin. Councilman Gerald Robison submitted no written comments.]

COMMUNITY RELATIONS

Bennett: “I applaud Mike’s consistent focus on the community’s best interests.”

Block: “Mr. Martin’s actions have alienated a large portion of the community and has resulted in an, “us vs. them” attitude between the public and the city. Mr. Martin seems to be attempting to build a ‘Fort Apache’ mentality between the citizens and the city.

“Meaningful citizen outreach is non-existent. Comments regarding citizens such as referring to opponents of his personal agenda as, “Small minded and mean spirited” are indicative of an attitude of contempt towards Burien’s citizens.

“A large portion of the public does not feel the majority of the city council and city staff has their best interests at heart. Mr. Martin has actively sought to draw a wedge between the city’s advisory boards to the council and the city.”

Clark: “Mike is well known and well respected in the community. Everywhere I go I hear good things about Burien. There is a feeling that our future is bright. These feelings are a direct result of Mike’s leadership as city manager.

“There is a small vocal minority that are very angry at Mike because they could not force their way on the [Shoreline Management Program], density around Lake Burien, [city comprehensive] plan amendments, the first annexation, and now the zoning code maps.

“However, it is remarkable that this number is so small in a city of 47,000 the majority of whom are comfortable with the professionalism of Mike.”

Edgar: “A large portion of the City Manager’s efforts and energy was diverted to the Annexation of North Highline.

“While he might have made an effort to know and understand special interest and community organization concerns, his characterization of Burien citizens who opposed annexation as ‘small minded and mean spirited’ suggests that he has an issue with citizens who voice a contrary opinion.

“Public participation in developing and implementing City policies appears to not really be encouraged but merely tolerated….

“Working with the Press could have been more proactive and effective. The Press could have served as a vehicle for publicizing and education citizens on City topics of community interest or concern….”

Krakowiak: “I do not feel Mike knows the Burien community well. Two examples are Kids and Cops and Annexation.” Had he listened “to council members’ input at the 2012 retreat [it] might have been beneficial in considering direction….

“Public participation continues to diminish and is not encouraged…. Significant complaints by citizens that I am aware of are minimized or ignored.”

McGilton: “I am very impressed with Mike’s communication with the community. [With those] who care to listen [it] is very strong….

“His difficulty is only with sectors of our community who want to get Mike fired and use The B-Town Blog to air their unfounded and mean-spirited opinions.”

Martin: “I mentioned in a previous evaluation that I’m connected to this community in ways that I haven’t been connected to others before. That continues to be the case. I say that because I believe it takes a very long time to just understand what a community values and what it does not.

“I have also come to believe that if one pays attention it is possible to understand what a community thinks it values or aspires to want – but really may not, yet.

“For example, into the ‘thinks it values’ category I would put cultural diversity, art, health, and to a lesser extent the environment. I do believe good leaders can guide the community toward these things over time, because the community is already predisposed toward them.

“The criteria regarding the press are more difficult to assess. I know I’m well regarded by reporters at the Seattle Times, West Seattle Herald, White Center Now and the Burien Daily. The local blog is problematic for reasons we’re all aware of.”

INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS

Block: “Needs to work harder to capitalize elected relationships, work closer with council on lobbying.”

Clark: Representing Burien on several intergovernmental organizations and occasionally dropping in on other city councils and the Highline School Board, “I hear compliments for Mike’s professionalism that has Burien regarded as the most stable city in the Highline area as well as one of the most stable in King County.

“When I was the [city] representative to SCORE [the regional misdemeanor jail] it was quite evident that Mike was the main advisor to all of the elected representatives of the cities that make up this group.

“This translates directly to admiration for Burien as a whole. This type of professional leadership exhibited by Mike is a very valuable asset…. Developers and businessmen know they have a trusted partner in Mike.”

Edgar: “There were not many reports or examples of the ongoing promotion of specific City policies with other agencies.

“One missed opportunity was in the area of economic development where the collective promotions and collaboration of the City policies with other agencies could have been used to encourage businesses to move or consider expanding to Burien.

“One problematical inter-agency example was the City’s interest in promoting Kids and Cops to the Highline School District. A considerable amount of energy and political capital was required to advance this idea to [the district and community].

“However, the strategies used were not effective in convincing [district] personnel that it was in their best interest to accept the City’s proposal.”

Krakowiak: “I have not heard of any information from the City Manager regarding his attendance at the regional City Managers’ meetings. This is an example of an opportunity to promote the City with other agencies that I am not aware of is being utilized.

“With regard to Kids and Cops, the City Manager did not realize the importance of the relations between elected of the two jurisdictions involved.”

McGilton: “The difficulty is not with Intergovernmental Relations, it is simply due to one councilmember expressing her long-held belief that Mike can’t do the job. This is in direct opposition to previous evaluations by the rest of the council that thinks highly of his abilities.

“And I am saddened to see she has convinced a second councilmember to support her inflexible views. Interesting that he has little experience with the comments that he is making.”

Martin: “I’m very comfortable and competent in this area. We have very good relations with all our neighbors, including cities, the port, and special districts. This is not a small thing nor does it happen by accident.

“Regional/state/federal relations are extremely time consuming and often have little payback. Cities with greater resources can afford to engage in these activities but Burien does not have that capacity to burn.

“It should be noted that often staff [i.e., the City Manager] seek out opportunities to engage these issues because they are so interesting, allow out-of-office travel, and their outcomes are usually difficult to account for – so you can’t lose. Perfect for avoiding the drudgery of everyday policy implementation at the local level, but very time-consuming with little bang for the buck.

“That said, I am quite good at engaging various individuals and agencies at all levels if there is a strategic, tangible reason to do so. It is noteworthy that in 2012 Burien enjoyed an extremely high level of success at the state level in terms of grants to fund our projects.

“This in large part because of a highly effective lobbyist, but also relentless focus on the projects we advocate for. I expect more of the same in the future.”

COMMUNICATION

Bennett: “Mike has gone above and beyond the duty in his efforts to communicate with Council, despite the obstructive and inappropriate conduct of certain Councilmembers.”

Block: “Mr. Martin consistently withholds information from council, and is selective as to which council members receive certain items of information. Rather than a full [manager’s] briefing, Mr. Martin only shares information that is specifically asked for.

“Mr. Martin has failed on several occasions to provide a detailed written report as part of the council packet. Mr. Martin’s actions in opposition to stated council policy do not engender trust.”

Clark: “I find Mike easy to communicate with. He has never tried to lead me to a decision. He provides me with the information I need. He lays out options for me to consider never directing me to any one solution.

“I have learned much from Mike and will be very pleased to continue working with him into the future.”

Edgar: “The City Manager has contact with 5 of the 7 council members and has limited contact with 2 of 7 council members. Providing the Council with reasonable access to information appears to be selective.

“Actions do not always encourage mutual honesty, respect, and trust.” Requested information on the annexation sales tax credit and on CARES were inadequate or not provided.

“A number of ‘teachable moments’ were missed during the year which could have been better handled and would not have made me feel that information was being withheld. It is difficult to know what other information is not being provided to the whole Council.”

Krakowiak: The City Manager has now lost contact with 2 of 7 members of the council…. From Mike’s comments, he is aware that he does not have the tools to facilitate open, two-way communication.

“He does not appear to be able to effectively develop and maintain professional relationships with a small but diverse group of councilmembers.

“While discussing litigious issues, Mike has said to me ‘just trust me.’ And when I have made inquiries regarding valid citizen concerns, [Martin has said], ‘It’s not a big deal – game over.’”

McGilton: Against all common sense, Mike continues to try to communicate with the councilmembers who can only find fault with his work performance. This causes the entire Council to be looked on as dysfunctional.

“I applaud Mike for his ability to be polite and approachable under such negative encounters both in private and in a public forum.”

Martin: “Unfortunately each year I’ve always had to begin this section by acknowledging communication with Lucy is non-existent, and has been for five years now.

“Communications with Jack have recently become problematic and fallen into that category, beginning in May when he started using social media to say very damaging things about me that were patently false.

“It is impossible to assess how the lack of communication with those two council members affects the general performance of the city organization, but it can’t help.

“I continue to have good communications with the remainder of the council … we have rough moments at times, but nothing unhealthy or unprofessional. I can say with clear conscience I am at peace with the knowledge that I’ve done everything, and more, than any professional could be reasonably expected to do to reach out to the entire council.

POLICY MAKING/VISION IMPLEMENTATION

Bennett: Mike has been truly visionary in his efforts to reach out to the Highline School District, and he dutifully carried out Council direction in his efforts to annex North Highline.

Block: Mr. Martin has failed to be inclusive in Council relations. Mr. Martin consistently fails to follow stated council policy.

“Mr. Martin is committed to his own vision for Burien, even when this personal vision is counter to stated council policy or will be harmful to the city. Even when the evidence is clear that Mr. Martin’s actions are harmful to the city, he refuses to change to a more productive path.

“Mr. Martin has failed to acknowledge the council’s role in setting policy, and has consistently acted to work counter to stated council policy. Mr. Martin counts votes and acts accordingly.”

Clark: Mike is very clear that the Council makes policy and he implements policy. I have always been very comfortable discussing options with him. Then I go forward to Council with my own decision on whatever our policy discussion is. Once Council develops a policy I feel Mike implements it without complaint.

“Recently we have been divided on what some of our policies are. At Council meetings Mike has listened well and then taken direction from the majority of the Council Members. This is often to the chagrin of the minority Council Members but that is how Democracy works.

“Mike hired a very competent, fun consultant to lead us through the [city’s] visioning process. I … really feel the community enjoyed the process and felt that their thoughts for the future were captured well.

“At all the meetings Mike was present…. His welcoming attitude was key to the development of the Vision as we revised and updated our original vision. To Mike’s credit the updated Vision accurately reflects the Vision that Council has been following since our incorporation.”

Edgar: “It is unclear how committed the City Manager is to the council’s vision for the community. He does not explicitly give examples or reinforce how his actions are implementing the City’s vision.

“Numerous opportunities were missed that could have provided educational outreach on topics of community interest and ‘teachable moments’ that could have created better alignment between the City’s vision, the City Manager and the citizens.

“Requests for an active pursuit of creating/revising the City’s Business and Economic Development Plan were largely ignored and a whole year was devoid of any meaningful attempt to work towards revitalizing the business climate of the city.

“Any talk about economic development tended to center around [the Northeast Redevelopment Area] at the expense of the rest of the business community.

“While the City Manager recognizes that the City Council makes policy decisions, I have a sense that he works with council members to influence/shape policy, does count votes, and knows how many votes are needed to get something passed.”

Krakowiak: I believe that it’s not possible for Mike to be committed to the Council’s vision for the community because he does count only to four and therefore only reacts based on 57% of Burien’s elected representatives.

“Examples of this include Kids and Cops … and Annexation…. Some questions never being answered such as how the tax credit was calculated.

“Usually, I feel staff presents a solitary option when the Council is considering issues. An example of this is the animal control issue.

“I have not seen an effort to create a positive environment for decisions. In fact, I would describe council meetings as adversarial. I do not see the city manager taking positive steps … to build his skills in this area.

“Rather, I see no support which appears to lead to pandemonium and chaos. Sometimes I wonder if this is a style that is intentional.”

McGilton: “I strongly question the validity of Mr. Edgar’s comments. I find it impossible to understand the negativity and mean-spirit written here.

“I suspect there is there is an unstated opinion rather than what is written here. Mike only takes direction from the entire Council as he states frequently.”

Martin: “Regarding vision: I don’t think anyone is more committed to having and following an aligned vision than me. Recall it was I who suggested to council that we revisit our community vision last year, and I’m grateful we took the time to do it.

“After a couple of decades of doing this, I understand how important Vision is to efficiently advancing work, whether in the form of community goals or the staff work plan. I believe council is aware that the organization has a Vision that informs hiring, firing, rewarding, mentoring, etc.

“Regarding ‘Policy making’ with a capital ‘P’: Council members have been consistently (and appropriately) adamant in reminding me this is their area. I’m happy to agree. I think there is often disagreement among council members about what their policy is.

“There are times when I become tainted with that controversy by dint of the fact that it’s my job to implement the majority’s wishes. Annexation is a prime example of such a policy directive. I happen to have agreed with the majority on that issue, but it is still a council policy.

“If council’s policy was not to pursue annexation, for example, you can be sure I would have saluted. This is universally true.”

MANAGEMENT OF ORGANIZATION

Bennett: “Mike deserves full credit for hiring and managing a truly world class organization.”

Block: “Does not allow staff to act independently to their full potential. This has impeded staff’s ability to operate at the highest level and has resulted in lower staff morale.

“Mr. Martin has consistently dropped the ball on initiatives to which he has been tasked. Some examples of this are the street overlay program, cops and kids, and the failure of animal control to be financially self supporting.”

Clark: “Mike has emphasized stability and health in the management of our staff. This is reflected in staff productivity. Staff works cooperatively together as a team. It is amazing to watch them. They seem more like a family than a mix of people doing a job.

“Encouraging a healthy lifestyle reduces sick leave, lowers insurance premiums and provides our citizens with a better level of service. Mike’s management style should certainly be replicated in other cities.”

Edgar: “There seems to be an underlying culture of not proactively providing information that could help Council, advisory committees, citizens better understand issues. Clarification of information or misconceptions is not always volunteered unless specifically requested.

“Considering the size of the current staff, there is a relatively high level of staff turnover. It appears that there is a need for an aggressive plan for employee retention, and succession plans are needed for both growth opportunities and for replacing personnel who exit City employment.”

Krakowiak: “I’m very concerned with the high turnover rate of staff. The city manager does not implement policy consistent with what’s on the books. We are not receiving a quarterly financial report that is actually required by state law and which is in our financial policies….

“With what seemed to be a lot of effort on the council’s part, it took this whole year to start working on updating the Council Policies and Procedures….”

McGilton: “There is no information that is not freely presented by Mike at every opportunity. Again, the hidden agenda by these negative comments only serves to undermine Council’s effectiveness to the general public.”

Martin: “We undertook a Good 2 Great exercise this year that I felt really good about, and I think the organization is somewhat refocused on excellence, public service etc. We have placed special emphasis on our role in providing stability, and I believe the organization is sound in that regard.

“Still work to do (there always will be) in making sure staff is aligned, and stays aligned with the city’s vision. But the organization likes itself, and is very strong and healthy. Amid all the uncertainty, the organization is stable, solid, high performing and importantly, happy.

“This is an entirely different and much improved organization than the one I inherited some six years ago. We (staff) consciously try to avoid “bureaucratic pretension” yet act professionally in the sense that we focus on things like customer service, plain speech and common sense.

“There is always work to be done. But I really don’t think the community begins to appreciate how good this organization is.

“I was disappointed at some council members’ remarks, later echoed in the community, that (1) there was some kind of high staff turnover and (2) it was caused by my “intimidating” management style. I was not offended by these misstatements only because they were so entirely off base. I would welcome anyone to produce one shred of evidence to the contrary.”

Looking Ahead

Martin also gave council members four goals for himself that he wants to pursue for the city:

  • Identify a level of service the community wants and a way to pay for it.
  • Implement the path forward for Town Square.
  • Continue redevelopment of [the Northeast Redevelopment Area (NERA)].
  • Advance a meaningful partnership with the [Highline] School District.

More Emails

In another post-evaluation email, Block told Martin “your response and denial of job performance shortcomings brought up by myself and others during your recent evaluation reinforces the comments made therein….

“It should also be noted that under your tenure [at] the City of Burien the city has developed into a divided and polarized community….

“I object strongly to your assertion that the contents of my evaluation were a matter of personality conflict. I take my job as a council member too seriously to allow my personal feelings to interfere. For the record, I like you as a person.

“Unfortunately … your shortcomings as a manager and a leader leave me but to one conclusion, that the citizens of Burien would be best served by not having you serve in the position of City Manager.”

This prompted a response from Robison, who had not commented on his numerical ratings of Martin, with Block as its primary recipient.

“I feel that I cannot remain silent in the face of such self-serving and unjustified criticisms, and ask that this also be included in Mr. Martin’s record,” Robison wrote.

“The three supposed failures cited by Mr. Block” – Kids and Cops, the street overlay program, and CARES – “are in fact not failures of the [City Manager]. To the extent that they are failures at all, it is the failure of the Council.

“Kids and Cops was a bold initiative intended to address a severe problem facing the city” but received a “cool reception” because of “tax anxiety,” lack of school district support, and “the corrosive influence of a small group of citizens and a couple of Council members who are more interested into fighting Mr. Martin than serving the best interests of our community.

Lack of citizen report for the initiative “does not make it a failure.”

“Suspension of the street overlay program was an appropriate and necessary response to the drop in tax revenues. The conservative fiscal program introduced and enforced by Mr. Martin has brought Burien through the recession in much better shape [than] almost any comparable city. Again not a failure.”

“The only criticism of CARES comes from the same very small but corrosive group referred to above. The shift, induced and supported by the Council, has saved the City a quarter million dollars a year….

“I do not want a [City Manager who was afraid to take the initiative, or who avoided anything solely because it would make his job easier.”

For his part, Martin wrote, “I welcome any constructive guidance that improves the way I do my job. And thank you for kind comments when they were made.

“However … the remarks written by Deputy Mayor Krakowiak and Councilmembers Block and Edgar intended to support their ratings are entirely untrue and easily refutable. As such, those evaluations lack substance.

“It is unclear what they are meant to accomplish other than to underscore the fact that, for their own reasons, Lucy, Jack and Bob simply dislike me personally. I acknowledge their feelings but there can be no answer to them. I don’t understand it and am sincerely sorry they feel that way. I really mean that.

“Regardless, count on me to continue delivering a high level of professionalism as part of the team serving the community. There is much good to be done.”

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Comments

29 Responses to “Burien Council Evaluation: City Manager Mike Martin’s Future on Razor’s Edge”
  1. Tom says:

    As city manager, I believe Mr Martin’s credibility was diminished when he decided to become the head cheerleader for annexation.

    I realize that when city bureaucrats move on to their next position (and they are constantly in motion) their new pay scale is related to the size of the new and former city. This places the professional bureaucrats interests at odds with the citizens of the city that pays his salary.

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  2. SD says:

    Self-righteousness at its best!

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  3. KBassen says:

    It’s telling how many of the comments mention other council members as they review Mr. Martin. Must they snit at each other even in performance reviews? I’ts like everything they do is centered around pointing fingers at each other. Stop it!

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  4. Uh oh says:

    So the first ave project is over budget and way past the original timeline. The ambaum redo didn’t even meet some state regulations with the sidewalk.

    The town square was sold as a revitilation of downtown by encouraging ownership and density in the dowtown core. The city eminent domained several private businesses. And now that it has been an unmitigated disaster, the city is proposing putting in more apartments!!!!!! The one thin burien absolutel doesn’t need.

    Then the city spent how much money on a failed annexation that ignored legitimate concerns of citizens with ample evidence that the majority of burien residents did not support annexation. In fact, only one pro annexation candidate for city council won in The last election. And it was the closest race.

    And these very legitimate criticisms are dismissed as personal vendettas by a vocal minority of the city? In no other place would these results be considered acceptable performance.

    It is very clear there are several council members that need to move on. And it is time for the city manager to be held accountable. These are not personal attacks. It is a simple fact that many of the biggest things mike Martin has attempted have been a stunning failure. Town square is a disaster. Annexation wasn’t wanted. And the guy has two dui’s. Shouldn’t he be held to a higher standard not a lower one?

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  5. Uh oh says:

    And to Joan mcgilton,

    In America it is not only our right but our responsibility to question our elected representatives. If you don’t like it, quit. But I have a feeling the burien residents will take care of that for you.

    Negative comments don’t lead to perception of council ineffectiveness. Council ineffectiveness does. You were mayor for how long? Not once did you or mike Martin take the time to talk to me or the other small business owners around me. That’s ineffectiveness. You caused my attitude. Not negative comments on a blog.

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  6. May says:

    Krakowiak: “I’m very concerned with the high turnover rate of staff. The city manager does not implement policy consistent with what’s on the books. We are not receiving a quarterly financial report that is actually required by state law and which is in our financial policies….

    Can you imagine why?…..The minute someone might “uncover” something they get fired.
    And NO quarterly financial report?…must I say more????

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  7. Coverofnight says:

    I was REALLY looking forward to this article until I read, “…Councilman Gerald Robison submitted no written comments.” Typical lawyer arrogance! He must think that his s#$% doesn’t stink.

    This council is just a house of cards and it should come tumbling down in the next election. Unfortunately, though the Hole-in-the-Head gang might be disbanded, their ringleader (Robison, I believe) will still be around for what I feel will be more selfish scheming and will actively be a hindrance to quality government in the City of Burien.

    It’s wonderful that in this country we have access (thanks again to Ralph for great reporting) to this information on the behind-the-scenes tensions and dynamics of the manager/council relationship down at Dysfunction Junction. For months on this blog, the public has shared the disdain that the manager and the Hole-in-the Head gang have for the very citizens they’re supposed to represent. This article only cements the resolve that every voter will have to oust the selfish and welcome the selfless.

    It’s too bad we can’t run people out of town on a rail; we’re only armed with a ballot. Therefore, let the vetting of Lauren Berkowitz, Marlene Allbright and Joey Martinez begin now; and if they be desperados drawn to the Hole-in-the-Head gang, let’s promote and recruit candidates who will take a stand for others and not just look out for themselves. martin has had the good fortune to have others run interference for him – after this article, I believe the people will decide that we’ve had enough of him. Anybody know of good links to send him for writing a resume?

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  8. Eaton B. Verz says:

    “. Anybody know of good links to send him for writing a resume?”

    He’ll direct staff to do it.

    There ought to be some interesting candidate forums this fall! I hope Scott will do them again. It would be interesting to hear what all the candidates think of the job our city manager has done/is doing. That is if Joey Moretaxes will actually take a stand(and not waffle) instead of his usual non commital BS.

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  9. Mary says:

    Its time to vote in council members that are not beholden to Mike Martin instead of the other way around. From what I have seen Burien is set up for failure with Martin at the helm. We need a new city manager one that is accountable and competent qualities Mr Martin is sadly lacking.

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  10. L. Mascarello says:

    The fact that he was hired after his DUI is appalling in itself and he did it here as well. You should let the community speak their views as we are what makes up this city.

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  11. ron says:

    first time posting. I have lived here over fifty years and am very happy with how the staff has done. i wouldnt want to live anywere else. I dont know anyone that is unhappy with how the city has been managed.

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    • May says:

      ron…..??????? fifty years? please what have they managed?

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    • Marty says:

      Ron in your 50 years of living here have you ever attended a council meeting?
      Just out of curiosity , where did you stand on the annexation of white center?

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      • ron says:

        Been to several and also catch up on line when out of town. As far as anexation goes i was in the middle. I saw negatives and positives with both positions and i didnt see a real clear answer. Im glad i didnt have to be the one to commit. I will not criticize anyone for there position on that.10 years from now we will be able to use hindsight and know what the best desision would have been.

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        • Heidi Johnson says:

          I agree Ron, It seems the city is being ran well. A few issues here and there however, every city has them.

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          • May says:

            Heidi- I know nothing I hear nothing I see nothing.

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          • Marty says:

            I have lived in many cities and I can tell you that the city of Burien in comparison is NOT run well!
            If you look at the millions of dollars the city has paid out in lawsuits as a result of city staff incompetence thats a bad sign. More proof is the lack of road maintenance and sidewalk maintenance. Apparently we don’t have the revenue for it. Another sign is increasing taxes without increasing services. Taxes were just increased a few months ago but no corresponding increase in services was announced.
            The real kicker is the ever increasing need for more public safety officers that is not being met. I assume because the revenue is being spend on paying off lawsuits and pursuing an unpopular attempt to absorb white center when the city did not have enough revenue at its current size to adequately manage itself.

            I guess if you have no basis for comparison you could say this city is being run well but then you could say that about any city. Its all relative.

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          • Heidi Johnson says:

            Perhaps your statements are true to an extent however, most cities need infrastructural repairs. Yes Burien City has been involved in lawsuits, again, what city hasn’t? Taxes are inevitable, the cost of living is always on the rise.
            People need to get more involved if they want changes and make a difference.

            Perhaps you would be willing to share some links to the cities that are run well that are in comparative size to Burien re: infrastructure, taxes, and lawsuits. That would be a good read. Thanks.

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  12. Marty says:

    I will try and find the time to post some appropriate links Heidi. But suffice to say we are in a period of very low inflation, in fact deflation is a worry.
    Increasing taxes at this time is not inevitable and if it is done, in a well run city, you get some accountability and explanation of why these taxes are increasing.
    From what I have seen, Mr Martin is the poster child of unaccountability.

    I don’t know if you followed the annexation debate but don’t you think it was a little disingenuous of Mr Martin to claim to the folks considering annexation that taxes would not increase anywhere near to what the council approved last November AFTER the annexation vote.
    Yes Cities get involved in lawsuits, but they are not usually always on the losing end of them and the reason is not usually staff incompetence as it was in the recent judgements against the city.
    Also, Mr Martin instead of accepting responsibility blamed it on city staff.
    Is it any wonder we have such a high turnover of city staff?

    Yes most cities have a infrastructure in need of repairs but unlike Burien, usually basic infrastructure such as roads and sidewalks have a plan in place and a revenue stream to maintain them.
    We do have a disadvantage here in Burien because most cities have a mayor in charge who is ultimately responsible to the voters. A buck stops here person.
    In Burien the chief executive and CFO is Mike Martin, the city manager and resident Teflon Don.
    When you combine that with a city council that is content to be a rubber stamp for Mr Martin is it really any wonder that the city is not run as well as it should be and our tax dollars are not being efficiently used for the benefit of its residents?

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    • Shari says:

      “Marty,” your observation about the pivotal role of revenue stream(s) jumps out at me. What kind of practical action(s) should the City take to enhance that side of things? We are a lower-income community without a lot of business or property tax muscle compared to some other communities… what are some things that can be done on the revenue side?

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      • Marty says:

        Good Question Pat:

        Its difficult to look at the financial picture of a City without reviewing the entire Budget.
        Where revenue is being allocated and what could be cut to re-allocate a revenue stream to maintaining roads and sidewalks.

        Where revenue is allocated and in what order of priority are in theory set by the council when they approve a budget.

        I think what needs more attention is looking at what expenditures could be scheduled out freeing up revenue for more more pressing needs. In this case for example re-allocated to a revenue stream devoted to maintaining roads and sidewalks.

        Most of our tax revenue goes into the general fund and is dispersed from there.

        From what I understand Mr Martin pretty much spends money from the general fund as he pleases and gets approval after the fact by his council enablers.
        My understanding is that he has signature authority to spend $25K without approval but has no restriction on the multiplier. So in other words if he wants to spend $100K without approval all he has to do is divide it into 4 lots of $25K.

        Restrictions need be put on his authority to spend money and we need a quarterly audit process that needs to be comprehensive and especially transparent so we can review where the money went and see if it conforms to the council approved general budget.
        In theory that would increase the checks and balances on the city manger and we could see if the revenue is being allocated where it was intended in a more real time window.

        Currently the SOP is to review the financial plan after the fact when it has become somewhat murky and when closing the barn door becomes irrelevant. (oh well)

        However from what I have seen, its even worse than that, because I suspect, we don’t really review the variances between the budget and where it was spent at all.

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    • Pat LeMoine says:

      Marty, I agree with you and would like to add one minor clarification. As a citizen of Area Y we where told repeatedly that Burien taxes where not going to go up and then literally on the eve of election day (Monday evening) the council voted to increase taxes knowing full well that most people (including myself) had already mailed in their ballots. That is a tactic I expect from a used car salesman and is known as Bate and Switch.

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  13. Ghost of Maplewild says:

    Very well put Marty. I do find it funny that the pro annexation team was preaching that their roads would turn to gravel if they didn’t go with Burien. Now our own needed overlay project has been put on hold due to lack of funds.

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  14. Mike says:

    Every place Martin has worked, he had huge cost over runs on projects he was in charge of. Why he was picked as city manager with his horrible track record of failures is beyond comprehension. Martin and the four knuckleheads that bow to him need to be replaced with people that will respond to the citizens wants and needs. They seem to think there are no consequences for their actions (or inactions).

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    • May says:

      Actually what is happening at City Hall here in Burien is not Mike Martin, Brian Bennett or their other friends fault. They will do and keep hiring their friends because theiy can. Why? In Bell, Calif…the people at City Hall were run out of town. Here we do nothing. Why is city hall not packed very week and people are asked to show statements? here is my moto,,,,show statements or resgn.

      Lucy Krakowia said there are no quartery finacial statements? We have cost overruns?

      I bet Mike Martin Brian Bennett and the rest are laughing all the way to the bank because they can…….yes right cost overruns?

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    • Joanne says:

      Not so lunkheads, check your facts.

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      • Mike says:

        Joanne, please elaborate. What facts are you referring to? What I stated is fact.

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        • Joanne says:

          Find out the truth for yourself, I have.

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          • Mike says:

            Joanne, it amazes me that you come on here, call us names, then won’t state your version of the “truth”. Obviously you don’t know martins background.

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