LETTER: ‘I believe the Council Leadership is a menace to Public Safety…’


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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:]


Dear Council Members,

I believe the Council Leadership is a menace to Public Safety. Your failure to require them to focus on Burien priorities shows that crime is not important to you.

Deja Vu

Five years ago a different Council enraged Burien Residents with Annexation. Many of you spoke to that issue. How did it feel being dismissed and ignored when you wanted them to work on Burien?

Now you are in power and little has changed. Every two years you pay to find out what we want. Every two years you ignore that information.

Bob Dylan summed up Community dissent: “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing”. And, “Times they are a changin’” is certainly true about Burien today.

The Empresses Have No Clothes

A private Corporation would kill to have the power and information you routinely ignore. The difference between any successful City and Burien is the way the Council prioritizes itself.

Council Leadership knows the 1616 Biannual Community Survey states:

  • 47% want Crime Reduction
  • 34% want better Education and Schools
  • 26% want more Police and Enforcement
  • 24% want more economic growth
  • 14% want more sidewalks and bike lanes
  • 13% want better Road Maintenance
  • 11% want less Traffic congestion
  • 10% want Population growth addressed
  • 10% want Property values enhanced

Your refusal to act on our priorities is a sign of arrogance. We are paying You to make Burien safe and prosperous, not play childish games.

Open questions to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor and former Deputy Mayor:

  • Why do our priorities rarely appear on the Business Agenda?
  • Why is the “Law and Order” faction not funding more Police?
  • Do you see a relationship between ignoring our needs and the downward spiral of the City?
  • Why should an employer move into Burien when you ignore Residents and Businesses?
  • Would your employer move to Burien?
  • How is spending time on: Trespass Ordinances, Protestors, C.A.R.E.S., Sanctuary City, a Homeless Day Care, etc making Burien safe? Please explain.
  • Have you personally moved one of our priorities to the Business Agenda? Please provide examples.

Monday March 20th saw daggers drawn on:

  1. Homeless Daycare
  2. Telephone Call ins

Open questions to the Homeless Daycare sponsors:

  • What percent of Burien Residents support a Homeless Day Care? Please cite sources.
  • How much is this going to cost? Be specific with your information: TBD does not count.
  • Have you built new revenue streams to support it? If not, what services are you cutting?
  • Is your handling of this proposal representative of your workplace ethic?
  • Why do you expect your incomplete proposals to have priority at the Dais?
  • Do you submit incomplete proposals where you work?

Open questions to the sponsors wanting to end Council Member call ins:

  • Did you stall action on this matter for 1 year to enrage Burien Residents for political gain?
  • If no, why did you allow the Mayor to continue telephone call ins for 1 year after maternity leave expired? Please provide your reasons.
  • What is the exact reason for the absenteeism after maternity leave?
  • Was it a legitimate reason? Please provide details.
  • Would your boss tolerate you missing work for 1 year with this excuse? If no, why did you allow this to continue?

These March 20th shenanigans are the latest example of your manipulative behavior running Burien into the ground. Failure of this Council’s Leadership to take effective action on known problems dates back years.

March 23, 2009

Council Member Krakowiak requests sweeping changes to rental governance on March 23, 2009. You Tube 2 minute video:

City Manager Martin responds with information on April 27th. This includes information on Gang prevention in Tukwila and Des Moines.

On September 28th the Council deliberated this matter and chose to take no action. During these deliberations Council Member Krackowiak was silent on Gang activities:

13 minute You Tube:

14 minute You Tube:

Fast forward 5 years.

2014

Gangs are spreading through Burien as Mayor Krakowiak and Deputy Mayor Edgar are sworn in. Does the Mayor use the 2009 Gang information to prevent them from strangling Burien? No. Instead, the Police Gang Unit is disbanded.

She appears to naively believe everything is OK at the Heights. Now, Gangs are using their patsy Landlords to Annex Burien.

2015

Deputy Mayor Tosta is elected. Protestors start appearing in 2015. Five Council meetings were disrupted. Fractures within the Council are starting to appear at the Dais.

2016

Deputy Mayor Tosta is replaced by Council Member Edgar. Three Council Members abstain from voting for Mayor Krakowiak’s second 2 year term.

C.A.R.E.S., towing junker cars and Sanctuary City are now the favorite pastimes occupying Council time.

2017

Deputy Mayor Edgar is replaced by Council Member Tosta. Citizens are demanding Council action on crime while the Council dithers with:

  • C.A.R.E.S.
  • Sanctuary City
  • Allowing Council Members to call in
  • Homeless Day Care

Greener Pastures

I hear many Council Members continuing to talk about thinking outside of the box on crime prevention. Talking isn’t action, it’s an excuse for inaction.

Inside the Council Tool Box is where Ordinances are crafted to make Burien safe and prosperous. Failure to act with the authority vested by the State of Washington is wasting time and money, and making Burien unsafe.

Had Deputy Mayor Tosta and Mayor Krakowiak examined their knowledge on crime I believe Burien would be safer today. Deputy Mayor Tosta believes rundown neighborhoods are a precursor to crime. Her 40 second summation is correct:

Mayor Krakowiak is aware of Des Moines and Tukwila’s Gang prevention program for apartments (download PDF on Gangs here).

Open question to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor: Why are neither of you turning your insights into action? Your inattentiveness is hamstringing the City Attorney and Code Enforcement’s efforts to do their job. Tying their hands caused problems to multiply thus denying you revenues to hire more Police to make Burien safe and prosperous and to fund your projects.

Burien as an I.S.O. 9001 Quality City

A Quality Assurance system will flag recurring problems for attention. Burien is a Municipal Corporation that resolves problems through the use of Ordinance and Code. Burien has a staff lawyer to craft Ordinances to support the City Manager’s effort to clean up blights and illegal activities damaging Burien.

Four inexpensive actions that would diminish Burien’s crime wave are:

  1. Regulating Landlords to deny Gangs a place to do business in Burien.
  2. Holding Slumlords accountable for Tenant actions.
  3. Completing Ordinance 561’s Bank owned foreclosure maintenance requirements.
  4. Assuring Rental Housing meets minimum occupancy standards.

1. Denying Gangs a place to live and do business in Burien costs little. This measure is self funding: the Landlord pays to have the Police inspect for Gang activities. Would Burien Gardens / Heights / Allturus have passed this test? Not likely.

Currently, Burien Municipal Code suggests apartment managers of 4 or more units take a free class on preventing Gang infestations. Gang activities along Ambaum indicate this request is being ignored, thus redirecting scarce Police resources from law abiding homeowners to lazy landlords.

Continued Council inaction on these Apartment based Gangs is a tax on every Resident. I want all apartment managers required to take this free Police course and eliminate Gang activities in their complex. Additionally, when the cost of Policing exceeds $225 per capita for an apartment complex, the City should add these costs to the Apartment’s annual business license for a period of no less than two years.

I want the Council to disclose the cost of Policing Apartments vs Residential neighborhoods. I believe reckless apartment owners are being subsidized by homeowners.

2. Would you allow an eatery or Bank to trash downtown Burien? No. Why do you allow Slumlord businesses to reduce your main source of revenue? Property owners pay more than property and utility taxes. We pay the retail sales tax you collect from businesses.

I want the Council to require all Landlords to be regulated like their business counterparts in downtown Burien. I want the Council to spell out Landlord responsibilities to keep their tenants from degrading our neighborhoods.

Currently, the City focuses on the Tenant instead of the Landlord. This is shortsighted. When the Tenant moves, the problem often repeats itself with a different Tenant. The Landlord, not the City, the taxpayer or neighborhood, should be held responsible for dealing with their Tenant.

3. Ordinance 561 identifies Banks as the “responsible party” for their foreclosed homes. What it doesn’t say is what they are responsible for. Thus many of these foreclosed houses are overgrown and abandoned in the North Highline. They attract squatters and other illegal activities.

I want the Council to amend Ordinance 561 to spell out the Banks full maintenance responsibilities. Additionally, I want the Council to require Banks to register their foreclosed properties in Burien within 90 days of vacancy.

4. Tukwila requires an inspection every four years to determine if a rental unit is fit for habitation. Repairs are required for deficiencies (download PDF file here).

Burien’s cost of implementing these 4 proposals would be negligible. Each of them is self-funded by the Landlord or Bank.

Using Burien’s “Home Business” model as a guide would direct the City to notify adjacent property owners of a Bank Repo, an Apartment complex or Landlord’s legal requirements. I want these fliers to have an email address to facilitate timely reporting of problems. Help us know our neighbors.

The user fees collected from these property owners will more than offset mailing costs. This will allow Residents to define our neighborhoods instead of:

  • Gangs using rental property to conduct business
  • Slumlords trashing neighborhoods
  • Rogue Banks red-lining our neighborhoods with their blights
  • Landlords renting substandard housing

The Golden Goose

Changing the direction of Burien requires you to honor Your Oath of Office.

I want the Burien City Council to focus on nurturing the Goose that lays the golden eggs: Residents and Shoppers. The 2014 Community Survey shows 50% of the Residents want you to focus on attracting and retaining businesses. (download PDF on Economic Development here) Residents know Retail activities will provide more money for other City Services.

I want the Council to collaborate on Burien’s needs to open doors for more revenue. Business activities will increase as you resolve issues deterring people from spending more time in Burien.

I want you to empower our new City Manager with the necessary Code to clean up Burien and make our City safe and prosperous.

– Dick West

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Comments

5 Responses to “LETTER: ‘I believe the Council Leadership is a menace to Public Safety…’”
  1. JJ Greive says:

    Short and concise points please, your wandering argument is hard to follow.

  2. Eric says:

    Dick,

    You say, “I want the Burien City Council to focus on nurturing the Goose that lays the golden eggs: Residents and Shoppers. The 2014 Community Survey shows 50% of the Residents want you to focus on attracting and retaining businesses.”

    An important way to do that is to fund and support the arts. “Dinner and a show go hand-in-hand. Attendance at arts events generates income for local businesses—restaurants, parking garages, hotels, retail stores. An average arts attendee spends $24.60 per event, not including the cost of admission. On the national level, these audiences provided $74.1 billion of valuable revenue for local merchants and their communities.”

    http://www.americansforthearts.org/by-program/reports-and-data/research-studies-publications/arts-economic-prosperity-iv/national-findings

    Every study shows that the return on arts funding via government or community support returns many many more dollars than the investment.

    Burien Actors Theatre understands this connection and has survey data to demonstrate its positive economic impact on Burien. The connection between dinner and a show is why BAT created an online list of every restaurant in Burien, with their address, phone, website, and Yelp Review. The list is accessable on BAT’s website, or at https://airtable.com/shrGDSfXfOt08C3Ky/tblEu3tCimhLMUvS6/viwGDYzsgjgESTqNX

    Rather than always looking for someone else to fix the City, donate your time or money to a local arts organization. Be the change you want.

  3. Dena says:

    I appreciate your time and details and can only hope once again the council reads, pays attention and listens! Our city is counting on it. We cannot continue in this manner.

  4. Jason says:

    Dick,

    You do not understand how social services are funded. You need to do your research before posting these op-eds. You make yourself look ignorant, and fail to deliver your message.

    Social services are funded through a variety of state, federal and local grants, as well as through private foundation grants and independent fundraising done by the non profit. How will the program be funded? By a mix of these things. Where will the money come from? However the organization decides to raise funds, likely from all of the sources listed above. Since it sounds like you don’t support a shelter, you won’t be a part of that conversation. As with most of life, your voice counts only as much as your participation.

    Burien has set the city’s social services budget. It lingers around $350,000 a year, much of which goes to agencies outside of Burien. It is incredibly unlikely that new money would be allocated for this program. What is far more likely is that the current money being sent around King County for social services will be reduced, and a larger block grant will be provided for the organization that centralizes homeless services in Burien. No new taxes required, just a reallocation of current funding.

    I’m a homeowner and a taxpayer in Burien. I plan on starting a business here. I’d much rather my tax dollars be going to local services in Burien than spread all over King County to support programs that don’t address the homeless crisis in our town. You’re free to your opinion on this matter, but stop the handwringing over money when you don’t understand non-profit funding structures.

  5. rlc says:

    I will gladly start going to the Arts and do my shopping in Burien when it becomes safe until then I go outside of Burien. When the City proves they want to solve the crime issue make it safer for us to move around the city businesses’ then we will thrive. If not they will continue to suffer. All the businesses’ are turning in no loitering/trespass forms because it’s getting so bad. Whoever the new City manager this is your first priority to get done. Make it safe brings in more businesses’ and residents will shop at home.

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