LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘Clearly, there is a need for a change in City Hall’
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]
Letter to the Editor:
When I first filed my request with the City of Burien for the city manager’s evaluation I was told it would take 30 days for it to be ready. On April 1, 2013 when I got the information I was told it was a complete release of the evaluation documents. After reading through the materials I was given, it was clear the evaluation summary was incomplete. I contacted the city and asked for the missing information. When I was given a second release of evaluation information, I again noticed it appeared to be incomplete. After a third request I have been told what I have is final and complete now. However, I still remain skeptical that I have received a complete release of information as the section titled Overall is not formatted the same as the other sections. If supposedly all of the other Council members made no comments in the Overall section, their names should be shown with n/a after their names. This is not the way the released Overall section appears. I suspect the media providers in the city may also have not received a complete release of information from the city either.
What I find to be even more interesting is that while I had to formally file for information on this evaluation and the city seemed surprised that they would have to provide it to me, Mayor Brian Bennett was emailing details about the City Manager’s evaluation to his friend Joey Martinez (announced candidate for the City Council) to Joey’s personal e-mail address way back in February, 2013. This means the Mayor was sending out information to one citizen even before the Council had finalized the results of the summary evaluation. So the question that troubles me is, “Why was Joey Martinez receiving information about the City Manager’s evaluation before it was completed by the Council and shared with the full Council and without Joey Martinez having filed for a Public Information release?”
From the limited information that has been released to me, I found these trends in this evaluation of the City Manager for 2012;
- Three of the Council members (Block, Edgar, Krakowiak) commented that information was given out on a limited basis to some Council members while full information was given to others. Based on my experience with my Public Information request, I believe that the three Council members are correct about city information being withheld or given out on an unfair basis to some citizens and Council members. The city lacks transparency in how it gives out information.
- Three Council members (McGilton, Bennett, Clark) spent a great deal of time criticizing three other Council members, a perceived small group of citizens and the media rather than the actual performance of the City Manager Mike Martin in this evaluation process. There appeared to be an avoidance by these Council members (McGilton, Bennett, Clark) to discuss the quality of the City Manager’s work issues for the year (annexation, Kids and Cops, road work, budget issues, progress on Town Square, the City Business Plan, staff management and retention, communication with the community, etc) and whether Mr. Martin had been successful or not with these issues. Instead the thrust of their discussion was to attack citizens, other Council members and the media for why Mr. Martin was not successful. They enabled Mr. Martin to take no responsibility for the quality or lack of quality of his work. The purpose of this evaluation process was to evaluate Mike Martin (their employee) and not the community or the other Council members.
- Did someone at City Hall give Joan, Rose and Brian a sneak preview of the other Council members’ evaluations before the summary was completed? Here is an example of one such comment that suggests this happened, Joan: I strongly question the validity of Mr. Edgar’s comments. I find it impossible to understand the negativity and mean-spirit written here….. How did Joan know what Mr. Edgar’s comments were when she was writing her evaluation? Who got that information to her before the summary evaluation was compiled? How did Joan know what Mr. Edgar had written before the information was shared with all of the Council members? And what does her comment have to do with Mike’s performance?
- Comments from Joan, Rose and Brian show a great disrespect for Lucy, Jack and Bob’s comments. This comment is an example; Joan: Lucy’s comment is totally inappropriate. The council has been extremely compromised in giving Mike appropriate direction. This has been a year of great frustration for me as I see much posturing and political speak from these three councilmembers and no dedication to making policy to improve the City of Burien. Everything said is to advance a self-interested political position…. Note again how did Joan know beforehand what Lucy’s comment was going to be when Joan was writing her independent evaluation of Mike Martin and it appears she completely disrespects the three Council members? They have no dedication?
- It appears that Mike Martin submitted his own self evaluation to the Council before the Council members created their own independent evaluations. In his self evaluation, Mike Martin appears to blame the Council, citizens and media for a lack of quality in his job performance. Isn’t it great to blame your boss for why you didn’t perform your job very well? He takes little to no responsibility for his lack of quality performance in the areas of Community Relations, Communication, Vision and Management of Organization. He failed to even discuss some very obvious problematic areas such as; the budget shortfall problems, plans and policies toward businesses in Burien; the vision for the Town Square, the exceedingly high city staff turn over rate, CARES and he completely neglected to mention that the Highline Times was a major media provider for Burien. Mr. Martin attributes his Intergovernmental Relations success to the lobbyist. This is the lobbyist that was somewhat controversial in his hire.
Even after the summary evaluation was completed by the Council, Mike Martin still gave no merit to the comments that his 3 out of 7 (43%) bosses had to say about the quality of his work in 2012. In his follow up emails to the Council members about his evaluation, Martin explains that he got negative comments or low scores from Block, Edgar and Krakowiak simply because they do not like him personally. He clearly ignored and discounted the details and content of their comments about the quality of his work.
In conclusion, I am disappointed that the City doesn’t provide a transparent and complete release of Public Information to the public upon first request. The way the information on this evaluation was released was disjointed and intended to confuse the readers. The process of evaluation by the Council was disorganized and some council members appears to be evaluating each other rather than their employee, Mike Martin. Mike Martin seems unwilling to accept comments from all of his bosses about the quality of his work and wants to blame others for the lack of his professional successes in 2012. Clearly, there is a need for a change in City Hall.
– Debi Wagner
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