LETTER: ‘We have an ineffectual Council getting in our way of moving forward’
[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:]
Burien’s Police Initiative for adding 18 more Officers is officially dead: State Law supplants Burien Municipal Code. Washington State RCW 35A.33.135 grants sole power of the purse to our City Council, thus preempting Burien’s Initiative Code BMC 1.10.010.
All is not lost; we can achieve two important goals in 2017:
- Replace ineffective Councilmembers with people who will give Voters a voice on Police staffing through a Referendum.
- Bring in new Councilmembers with fresh ideas to propel the City forward.
Current Council Makeup
Burien is a Municipal Corporation and like its private sector counterparts is not immune to hubris. Council voting patterns show the presence of three factions: hard left, hard right and swing voters.
Hard left’s 2 members are associated with protestors and dislike Police.
Hard right’s 3 members talk about expanding Police presence; yet they defunded the Police Gang Unit and bike / foot patrols in Downtown Burien. They also question adding 2 more Officers who are heavily subsidized by grants.
Swing voter’s 2 members are the moderates of the Council. They tend to be pragmatic.
The actions and words of extremists on both sides of the ideological spectrum show a distaste for leadership. They refuse to join the moderates to form a governing coalition that would move their agenda and Burien forward. Both sides appear more interested in childish power games than effective governance.
Left and Right extremes engage in polarization. Polarization is a behavior that teens use, not functional adults.
Both extremes use Proxies. The Left uses Protestors and the Right uses speakers, writers, etc. The latest spat between these groups erupted on November 7th: the Right was wagging its pointed finger at the left for defunding Police.
That finger pointing outward had three pointing back at the Speaker. Projection is deployed to blame others to coverup their involvement in the issue. Specifically, on August 1, 2016 the former City Manager proposed adding 2 more Police without a tax increase.
What did the Council do? Nothing. The Right wing could have joined the Moderates and added 2 Officers, and for their own reasons chose not too. The matter was then Tabled.
I think Burien would be better served by a Council comprised of moderates. The moderates tend to act like adults. They are focused on solution, whereas extremists create financial drama through inaction.
Burien is experiencing financial difficulty because many of the Councilmembers spend time fighting each other, instead of fighting for Burien. The polarizers hope City Revenues will improve, yet take no tangible action to become involved in making it happen.
In Burien, Right vs. Left infighting gives us gridlock and a declining quality of life. 3 extremists and 1 moderate are up for reelection in 2017: changing the course of Burien is done through changing the composition of the Council.
Put it in Writing
If we don’t ask for what we want from 2017 Candidates, we’re likely to get a new Council that is just like our current one: political deja vu.
I believe we can stop duplicitous campaign promises by asking pertinent questions. I want each of us to ask Candidates where they stand on issues that move the City forward. Good Candidates should have no trouble listing action steps and resources needed to achieve their goals.
For those who are concerned about getting protestors instead of sidewalks; there is an almost un-American solution: insist Candidates put promises in writing.
Verbal political promises are not enforceable contracts because they do not contain an offer, an agreement, nor any consideration.
Candidates who want to stand head and shoulders above others could have their lawyer draft a promissory note that contains the 3 provisions of a contract. This should specify: who, what, when, where, why and how they plan to fulfill their obligation. I believe a credible consideration would be a $2500 pledge to a local food bank if they willfully renege on their promise.
If a Candidate isn’t willing to put their agenda in writing with some skin on it, are they trustworthy to fulfill a verbal promise? Experiences in Burien would indicate: No.
Choice: Acceptance or Revenge
Acceptance is the place where What Is Is exists. It is not about blame nor is it about becoming apathetic and resigned. Its about choice. Accepting that the 5 extremists on the Council are and always have been extremists brings us to choice: we can replace 3 of them with more qualified people in 2017.
Staying steady and steeled in the face of a recalcitrant City Council is important. If you allow yourself to become angry, you can be manipulated by the Siren’s sweet song of revenge. Revenge voting is a contributing factor to Burien’s current Council makeup.
Political practitioners of revenge fail to tell us what they are going to do after they destroy their adversary. Revenge and solution are mutually exclusive objectives: one does not lead to the other. Many on this Council were voted in to avenge the Annexation debacle. What has this Revenge Council done since 2013 to improve Burien?
Revenge’s mirror opposite is Standing Forth. It is associated with adult behavior. Its motto is “Fix the problem; not the blame”. People who Stand Forth are leaders in their own lives first and foremost. They accomplish goals by leading, not bludgeoning others; and show an interest in dialogue. Those who Stand Forth are effective communicators and value input from others.
Maslow says safety is a basic human need. The Council ignores this intrinsic need and appears baffled as Burien slips into Social Chaos. Social Chaos is now metastasizing into financial chaos.
Being heard is another basic human need. Are they curious about you?
What would Bill Gates do?
Municipal and private Corporations have similar structures and objectives. Burien has a Mayor, Microsoft has a Chairman of the Board. Burien has a City Council, Microsoft has a Board of Directors. Burien has a City Manager, Microsoft has a CEO. Burien has Residents, Microsoft has shareholders. Burien has a valuation of $5.1 Billion, Microsoft has a valuation of $456.5 Billion. Both organizations were incorporated to create value for their Residents / Shareholders.
Property and share values are a reflection of management competency. Our (share) property is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, a Microsoft share is worth $57.
If our City Council were to assume control of the Microsoft Board, what do you think the ticker tape price would show on November 14, 2017? As a shareholder would you be satisfied? If not, would you vote in better people to turn things around?
If you’re not satisfied with the status quo…join me in January as I begin speaking to:
- Problems and issues occurring on the City Council.
- Consequences of Council inaction.
- Solution within the Council’s capacity to implement.
We have a City with tremendous potential, and we have an ineffectual Council getting in our way of moving forward. Changing the Council changes the course of Burien.
I invite you to join me in making our voices heard for a safer and more prosperous Burien.
– Dick West
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