LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘I believe it is time to look for a new City Manager’

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[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:]

Washington State Law requires the City Manager to:

  • Faithfully execute all laws and ordinances. These laws were put in place by the Council to make Burien a safe and desirable place to live.
  • Keep the City Council informed on financial condition of the City. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are unaccounted for. Projects such as annexation, wards, business development projects that never materialize, etc., are not being shown on these reports.
  • Provide information that the City Council requests. There has been much written on this that indicates many requests are being ignored by the City Manager.

I believe it is time to look for a new City Manager. I propose that we pay $2000 a month more to get the caliber of a Mercer Island City Manager. A person like this is not going to come just for the money. They are going to want to see that the City Council has its act together before accepting the job. This person is going to be taking on a large backlog of problems and will need a Council that is willing to join them in turning this City around.

I have attached a more detailed outline to the City Clerk’s copy for the the Council to revue. This outline will deal with issues ranging from pollution of Lake Burien, slide dangers in Seahearst, graffiti, bank repos, and slumlord dwellings and every other issue that degrades our City.

Our current City Manager’s refusal to direct his department heads to follow the law needs to be stopped. If the Council is unwilling to deal with this issue, than we need to replace the City Council.

Proposed Changes

A significant number of issues confront Burien. Most of them are directly related to the City Manager’s performance. Resolution will require the full good faith effort of Burien’s legal, finance, planning and public works departments in conjunction with the City Council.

Legal / Code Compliance:

  • Written code compliance objectives need to be established.
  • Establish a written reasonable response time to code violations.
  • Track all time on these violations so that money can be recovered.
  • Establish a system to keep track of all compliance issues.
  • Review Washington State statues to determine internal City non-compliance issues.
  • Employ on an hourly basis specialty attorneys for unique problems.
  • Coordinate with Public Works to establish a proactive approach to implementing the BMC.


  • Maintain maps and documentation such that they do not contradict each other.
  • Recognize that surface water issues are only part of the problem that cause slides. The constant filling and discharge from the Highline Aquifer will encourage slumping and catastrophic slides too.
  • Coordinate with Legal on all surface water issues, ie pollution, slides, etc.


  • Quarterly Report of Financial Status should indicate both the budget and expenditures on all Council directed projects, ie annexation, wards, business development plans, etc.

Public Works:

  • Coordinate with Code Compliance to provide necessary training to all employees on basic code violations, as well as the means to report these issues such as a camera phone.
  • Empower employees with the ability to address graffiti immediately.
  • Brush / hedge trimming along the public right of way by the City should be such that by the time the next scheduled trimming, the vegetation has not yet encroached upon or blocked sidewalks, roads, or intersections.
  • Provide all City cars with gloves, plastic bags and other implements necessary to address small compliance issues on the public right of way.

City Council:

  • Direct the City Clerk to keep a running tally for information from the City Manager by individuals on the Council. This should include the date of the request, the completion date, as well a a brief description of the material sought. This is to be placed in every Council Packet.

RCW 35A.13.080

City manager — Powers and duties.

The powers and duties of the city manager shall be:

(1) To have general supervision over the administrative affairs of the code city;

(2) To appoint and remove at any time all department heads, officers, and employees of the code city, except members of the council, and subject to the provisions of any applicable law, rule, or regulation relating to civil service: PROVIDED, That the council may provide for the appointment by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the council, of a city planning commission, and other advisory citizens’ committees, commissions, and boards advisory to the city council: PROVIDED FURTHER, That if the municipal judge of the code city is appointed, such appointment shall be made by the city manager subject to confirmation by the council, for a four year term. The council may cause an audit to be made of any department or office of the code city government and may select the persons to make it, without the advice or consent of the city manager;

(3) To attend all meetings of the council at which his or her attendance may be required by that body;

(4) To see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully executed, subject to the authority which the council may grant the mayor to maintain law and order in times of emergency;

(5) To recommend for adoption by the council such measures as he or she may deem necessary or expedient;

(6) To prepare and submit to the council such reports as may be required by that body or as he or she may deem it advisable to submit;

(7) To keep the council fully advised of the financial condition of the code city and its future needs;

(8) To prepare and submit to the council a proposed budget for the fiscal year, as required by chapter 35A.33 RCW, and to be responsible for its administration upon adoption;

(9) To perform such other duties as the council may determine by ordinance or resolution.
[2009 c 549 § 3025; 1987 c 3 § 17; 1967 ex.s. c 119 § 35A.13.080.]

Severability — 1987 c 3: See note following RCW 3.70.010.

– Dick West

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our ~90,000+ monthly Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please remain civil and, pending our review, we’ll most likely publish it.]

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12 Responses to “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘I believe it is time to look for a new City Manager’”
  1. Kathy says:

    I think Mr. West should move to Mercer Island!

  2. kex says:

    I completely agree with Dick West. I would certainly contribute to the campaign of anyone running for council who would commit to replacing Mike Martin.

    When Mr. Martin was caught driving drunk, his new contract with the City required periodic testing for alcohol use. As far as I know, this was never done, and it seems he is probably violating that contract as well.

  3. Jane Martin says:

    I also completely agree with Dick West and really appreciate the research he put into this so it’s not just random ranting. We need a petition or a plan of some sort to get a responsible, informed, experienced City Manager.

    This might be a good place to start:


  4. Debbi says:

    COMPLETELY AGREE !!!!!! Dick West you should be city manager . @ Kathy whats wrong with wanting a clean , safe community with fiscal accountability ?
    Burien has the potential , based on our location and natural resourses ; to be a thriving beautiful community . Lets do all we can to be good earth citizens and also live in a place that we improve, not just let it get more tired and run down . We have a choice here and it is not all about money . Mow your lawn , dont park your cars on it. Trim overgrown trees and bushes . Clean up the junk around your property ( there are scrappers who will gladly haul stuff for no charge ) Weed , remove graffiti consistantly , dont litter. This kind of property maintenance costs nothing but time & effort . Lets make our community a clean , efficient wonderful place to live . We can be a good example as opposed to the bad rep we have now

  5. Burienite says:

    Not disagreeing with some of your points, however I find it a little unbelievable that you say, “…Keep the City Council informed on financial condition of the City. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are unaccounted for. Projects such as annexation, wards, business development projects that never materialize, etc., are not being shown on these reports…”

    Really? Hundreds of thousands of dollars??? You are aware that the state auditors office audits every city on an annual basis? I know for fact that they scrutinize over expenditues and ensure that everything reconciles.

    If what you say is indeed true–and I have a tough time believing that–please provide some level of proof, so I can at least give you the benefit of the doubt. Otherwise it’s completely invalid.

    • I agree with this comment regarding the mandatory annual audit. I recently reviewed the Water District No. 49 financials statements and found most all the information on the state auditor’s website here:


      Other information that I did not find the State Auditor worked with me to Request the Information from the water district. These Public Entities must respond to your request for PUBLIC RECORDS or they can be fined by the State Attorney General. I found the Water District 49 to be very cooperative, polite and compliant in my Request for Public Records.

      Last, I doubt Mr. West’s comment that hundreds of thousands of dollars are unaccounted for the City of Burien; rather, I have found that these small government entities make a lot of accounting mistakes:


      It is good Mr. West is watching the City closely and although I am not familiar with all the issues he presents, I do appreciate his time and effort.

  6. Mike says:

    I for one have never heard any cost brought forth by Martin on how much was spent on the annexation debacle. I heard Martin has been asked repeatedly to inform the residents how much was spent to no avail. IMO most people feel without financial transparency by the city manager that he is hiding something. We can only hope he’s hiding the 285 animals his friend Debra George can’t account for.

  7. PanderBear Jack says:

    What’s shameful about this witch hunt is that of all the Highline cities, Burien is in the best financial, and economic shape.

    This McCarthyism is bad for Burien.

    • Mike says:

      Theres nothing shameful about wanting transparency from the gov’mnt pbj. It’s not ok for Martin to hide what he spent. It’s not his money. It’s yours and mine. I wouldn’t call it a witch hunt. It’s just about being honest with the citizens. Do you think Martin is being honest and transparent pbj?

      • PanderBear Jack says:

        Wanting transparency is one thing, everyone wants that. This is a fishing expedition cloaked. The way you can tell is that the cause-effect don’t add up.

        In this letter we jump around the map without giving any proof and suddenly he arrives with a “replace the city manager claim”.

        Mr West is adept in filing public disclosure requests, has he actually filed for any of this info? And why aren’t certain council members not requesting this info on the record?

        • Mike says:

          PBJ, please answer the following questions: do you think Martin has done a good job? Do you think he has been honest and transparent as a manager? If he was asked again (I’m sure he has been) do you (PBJ) think he would tell everyone how much was spent on annexation?

  8. Feralcat says:

    Study the people who are running for city council. Annexation will be back on the table. Lauren and Joey are PRO annexation.

    Lets not even get into the cares issue.
    Oh by the way: since joan mcgilton had to leave early on the meeting they voted to extend the contract it was a split so I guess it was “dead in the water”(if there is split vote), well she decided she wanted to put it back on the table to vote to extend. I smell something fishy going on.

    I’m just saying.

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