LETTER: Resident upset about Burien Councilmember’s physical absences
[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
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