LETTER: Resident upset about Burien Councilmember’s physical absences

Print This Post  Email This Post

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. This version was edited and re-submitted on March 14, 2017 to correct some inaccuracies that were concerning to the councilmember in question. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

Burien City Council,

For too long you have allowed your fellow councilmember Lauren Berkowitz to disrespect the residents of Burien and to abuse her position by allowing her continued physical absence from council chambers during council meetings. Physical absences, which to my knowledge remain unexplained. Just as shocking, you allow her to continue (even after the warning of potential censure) written attacks on Twitter and Facebook against the residents she serves during the very meetings she fails to physically attend.

Councilmember Berkowitz is a public servant, the electorate sees her as an employee of the electorate, yet she does not see it that way. In her own words from her official Facebook public profile she writes “as a councilmember, I’m at a public council meeting, not an employee at work.” By strict definition of the law is she an employee? Maybe not, but how do most perceive the positions held by public officials? How should those officials themselves perceive the nature of their roles and their positions? It is not too much to expect councilmember Berkowitz to show the same level of respect for her position we expect from all councilmembers. This is the behavior of a spoiled child, not that of a servant leader, an agent of change or a councilmember.

I demand the council address this issue during the next council meeting and amend council rules to make physical presence at council meetings the standard for attendance. Once this is done immediately stop excusing absences when no acceptable and vetted reason has been provided. If her absences continue unexcused from that point for any three consecutive meetings, the council should remove her. Please see RCW 35A.12.060 and RCW 35.23.101 for guidance. In person, engaged and undistracted attendance must be the standard for all councilmembers going forward.

This letter represents the resolute opinion of many residents, we will remember your attention to this matter, or lack thereof in the coming election.

Joel A. Manning

[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 cite your sources, remain civil and – pending our careful review – we’ll consider publishing it.]

Print This Post  Email This Post


19 Responses to “LETTER: Resident upset about Burien Councilmember’s physical absences”
  1. PamF2 says:

    Thank you Joel – wasn’t this posted a couple days ago??

    I plan on attending the council meeting on Monday.

    This particular council member is a serious piece of work. She deceived the Burien voters – promising sidewalks and safety. My neighborhood (Chelsea Park) has neither!!!

    But the rest of them, Where is the backbone from the Mayor? Where is common sense from Armstrong? And can Edgar please stop mumbling??? The only person I can remotely relate to is Wagner – she, at least loves Burien and protects it -per her voting record. Nice job on getting Quiet Skies together.

  2. Lake Burien says:

    Looks the same. What was inaccurate?
    Attendance figures?

    • Joel A. Manning says:

      Council member Berkowitz had the following concerns. It appears her feelings were so strong regarding these concerns as to warrant her contacting the blog to imply the threat of a defamation lawsuit:

      1. I had incorrectly stated she had been censured when in fact she had only been warned of censure. Although not intentional, this was clearly an error on my part. It was corrected.

      2. She claimed I had incorrectly stated she was a employee of the city, in fact I wrote that she was an employee of the electorate. Neither here nor there now as I edited this section to reflect a clearer statement of opinion. I feel confidant she can find some subsection of the law that technically defines her position in a way that could be argued as to it being other than “employee”. I also wanted the letter published.

      3. She claimed I incorrectly stated she had absences without explanation and claimed she had “no unexplained absences”. I am unclear as to whether or not she meant A) she has indeed explained her absences or B) she technically has not been absent as according to current council rules, phoning it in counts as “present”. Again, edited to clearly reflect opinion.

  3. BoogieDownBurien says:

    During the council meeting, which she did not attend, council member Berkowitz tweeted out ”

    “Since when is Burien’s majority white?”

    Burien is actually 63% white, which constitutes a majority.

    It appears Berkowitz has no idea what the demographics of the city she “represents” are.


    Please do your homework before making such inaccurate statements council member Berkowitz.

  4. Joey Martinez says:

    Joel Manning Translator Activated:
    “Someone I voted against and actively oppose and also openly disagree with their policy and political positions is doing something I disagree with”

  5. Tired Resident says:

    Perception is reality. Show up, have the courage to face those who elected you, and be involved. Dialing in is an inexcusable, lazy, misrepresentation of a community leader. In my book, Berkowitz isn’t one.

  6. Diane says:

    Threatening a defamation lawsuit? Well, she is, after all, a newly minted lawyer.
    Maybe I’ve been living under a rock, but I have NO idea why Lauren does not show up at council meetings. I’ve heard she has a small child at home ( as a grandmother of 7, I would be happy to babysit so she can attend meetings). I’ve heard she is afraid of:
    A) her fellow council members
    B) her constituents
    C) the unsavory atmosphere around City Hall
    D) not being able to tweet in council meetings

    Lauren’s final tweet during the March 6 meeting was “I will just add that in 2017, being present doesn’t require physical presence. I too participated in the whole meeting.”
    That is a fundamentally shallow, wrong-minded and millennialist statement. I take her chronic physical “no shows” as a sign of disrespect to her peers and to members of the community who go out of their way attend meetings. Personally, I hurry down 405 from Bellevue to make these meetings when it is at all possible.

    Tweeting (and she did it 23 times during the March 6 meeting) means she stopped listening 23 times to formulate and type a thought on her Twitter account. Some people call that multitasking. I call it inattentive. Studies indicate that nobody multitasks well. We just do those multiple tasks LESS well! By the way, during the January 9 council meeting, when the sanctuary city stuff was the topic, Lauren tweeted 38 times!

    Far better to show up and listen. I for one would like to meet Lauren.

    • Lori says:

      She obviously has enough free time to peruse the blog and find out she is the subject of much interest, but not enough to attend meetings. Or, maybe her minion notified her of the letter on the blog. And being afraid of her constituents and the atmosphere around city hall? She was a union organizer prior to being elected to the council. I am not buying it. Tweeting during meetings where she is not physically present? We could split hairs here, but the truth is, Burien is one of the 20 most populated cities in the state, and we have some issues that need to be dealt with now- and by a council that is engaged and works for US. She can go raise hell somewhere else. The council needs to deal with this matter now!
      We need to start a petition asking for her to be censured and dismissed immediately

  7. DJT2020 says:

    Lauren Berkowitz is the very definition of “phoning it in.”

    Her left wing, progressive agenda belongs on the Seattle City Council, not in Burien.

  8. Kate BB says:

    She’s supposedly been threatened and had her tires slashed. Sounds like she needs to hire a bodyguard. I’m sure any of the homeless hanging out in the library would be happy to be on her payroll. And, most of them are already packing heat – like the guy who shot his buddy outside there on Jan 7th.

    • Question Authority says:

      Or so she says, it possibly may be just a stunt(s) to bring attention to herself so as to solicit sympathy from whom she has alienated. If you are so horribly disliked maybe you have picked the wrong path.

  9. Big Duke says:

    Proven fact. The more Tweets the smaller the gray matter between the ears. It appears Berkowitz is Burien’s socialist version of Trump. “Tweet tweet. Is that a bird? No, it’s a brainless dumbass with a twitter account”.

  10. jenny says:

    Just put a mannequin or cardboard look-a-like in her chair. Max headroom made a big difference, but he was way cooler.

  11. Simple Simon says:

    I think every person on here trying to suggest that participation in meetings via telecommuting somehow “doesn’t count” needs to join us in the 21st century. Every major business in the world utilizes these methods, as do a vast amount of elected offials at every level, in most, if not all, countries. Grow up, stop whining, and complain about something actually important.

  12. Mayor McCheese says:

    Simple Simon if Berkowitz is going to make rules that impact her constituents she should at least have the common decency to look them in the eye when she does it.

    She is not working for a “major business,” she is working for US after all.

  13. Simple Simon says:

    McCheese, she lives here. She looks her constituents in the eye every day. I would rather our elected officials make the most use of their time on our dime; if that means multitasking, or eliminating unnecessary time drains like commuting when telecommuting is just as effective, so be it. Find a legitimate, valid reason why telecommuting is somehow inferior and/or unreasonable, and get back to me.

Share Your Opinion

By participating in our online comment system, you are agreeing to abide by the terms of our comment policy.

...and oh, if you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!