Council urged to keep CARES; told ways city is improving public communications 1By Jack Mayne Despite a plethora of letters and pressure, the Burien City Council said nothing Monday night on when it will make a decision of extending the CARES animal contract or shifting to King County Animal Control other than to be told more information would be available later in May. Councilmembers did discuss and pass a resolution urging action by the Washington Legislature and Congress to respond to a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case that says money is speech and therefor not subject to election limitation rules. Councilmember Nancy Tosta originally proposed the resolution. The Council, at the request of CenturyLink, postponed final decision on a non-exclusive cable franchisee until it sorts out some internal matters. CARES is pushed The city received nine letters this week along with a petition of well over 750 signatures seeking to retain and renew the contract with CARES and most expressing disapproval of a potential move to King County Animal Control. Marianne Hudson came to the Council meeting Monday night to thank it for looking into King County and its 24-hour animal control services.Council urged to keep CARES; told ways city is improving public communications 2 “Clearly they know what they are doing,” Hudson told the Councilmembers. “We have to go back to them.” Regular Council commenter Quinton Thompson pushed CARES at the meeting, but also sent a letter that said he did not believe “renewing this contract would have an adverse effect” on the city and worried that returning to King County Animal Control “would be more expensive.” The letters and petition want the Council to retract its 4 to 3 refusal on April 4 to accept City Manager Kamuron Gurol’s recommendation to extend the CARES contract from its August 30 expiration date until the end of January 2017 to give the city time to thoroughly investigate the possibility of keeping CARES or deferring to King County. The B-Town Blog had an April 2016 poll of readers after the Council rejected extending the contract. Results showed “Yes” to extend CARES, got approval of 77 percent of those voting in the online poll. There were 359 votes to extend CARES, 91 to return to King County and 15 people didn’t care one way or the other. [caption id="attachment_99289" align="aligncenter" width="500"]As of May 3, 2016, As of May 3, 2016, 467 votes have been cast in The B-Town Blog poll, with 77 percent voting “Yes” to extending CARES’ contract.[/caption] Most of the letters the Council has received since the rejection have extolled the virtues of CARES, something quite at odds with the early days of 2012 when the non-profit was seeking city approval. CARES’ Burien history On Nov. 29, 2012, The B-Town Blog reported “suddenly aggrieved Burien animal lovers are again eyeing the warpath against the Community Animal Resource and Education Society – better known as CARES – because of what they say is poor public interaction and a lack of understanding of rules and standards of caring for lost, strayed and abandoned dogs and cats.” The 2012 story added “charges and claims lay dormant as several of the opponents of CARES said it was no use criticizing the facility as long as a majority of the Burien City Council backed City Manager Mike Martin,” who had guided the formation of CARES under the leadership of restaurant owner Debra George. Now successor City Manager Gurol says he wants only to have all information on King County Animal Control after several years of upgrading and philosophical changes. Public Communications Katie Trefry, the city’s communications manager, reminded the Council that Burien Magazine has replaced the quarterly newsletter. The new 32-page, full-color quarterly magazine is a “huge improvement in how we reach Burien residents. The newsletter went to those who provided their address, but the magazine is mailed to every Burien address, so we reach more than 21,000 households.” The magazine also generates advertising revenue, about $28,000 for the first three issues, she said, and the hope is that the magazine may support itself. Trefry said she has heard the magazine isn’t “inclusive enough” and putting its content in languages other than English can help this. She is seeking a Spanish language translator and hopes the June issue will “have a little bit of translated content.” There is a lot of growth on social media that the city can use, she said. So far, she has posted more to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and wants to think strategically about the postings. She said there has been some growth in followers but “not hardly” enough yet. Twitter responses are also up, she said, with the biggest response for photos of the Dec. 9 mudslide, which means Twitter can be used to improve media relations and get information out quickly to news reporters. Trefry said there has been a significant interest in downtown Seattle media in Burien and that is because many electronic media reporters live in the area so she is learning to deal with those reporters. She also noted better online and video streaming of the City Council and other city events. In addition, the city is also working to effectively replace the current, outdated city website with new and modern graphics that offer better ways to communicate information to citizens, not simply having the site as a library of city information. Trefry said she is working with local photographers to build up a significant photo gallery, along with the Castus video service provider as a library for the city website as well as providing video for major city events. Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz – on the phone from home – said, “people get information but I think they don’t feel welcome,” adding that the Council can’t make them feel more welcome but can make the magazine represent more diversity by showing multiple residents who feel welcome enough to come to city events. Tosta, asking her usual multiple questions, wanted to know if there was a way to review citizen committees to see if they could be made more effective to citizens and to minorities. Council urged to keep CARES; told ways city is improving public communications 3Hi-Liners Theatre The Council heard a presentation on the Hi-Liners Youth Musical Theater by its board President Gerry Gilbert and Artistic Director Kathleen Edwards. Gilbert said it was the 50th year in Burien for the Hi-Liners, and recalled that it once had all participants rehearse every Saturday. He added that the group also performed regularly and for then-Boeing Chairman William Allen, as well as for a group of international bankers, for the 737 airplane rollout, the national Republican Governors meeting and the World’s Fair in Spokane. He said the total membership of the group during it first 21 years was about 1,800 mainly teenage students. Since 1994 to the present, Gilbert said that membership has been 3,600 students, and that during the last few years many students who have felt bullied in their schools have found an outlet at the Hi-Liners. Tuition is paid for the program on an “as possible” basis, with the normal tuition rate set at $450. He said the youth who participate in the Hi-Liner program are taught how to behave as professionals in the theatre business whether they are paid or not. Hi-Liners is non-profit, he said, with a 2016 budget of $256,000 and revenue at $226,000. He said that community theatres with their budget “contribute $2.2 million to the local economy.” They rent storage space at the old Salmon Creek Elementary school as well as at two studios at the Burien Annex, but performances are held at the 280-seat Renton Civic Theatre because they outgrew facilities in Burien, although they do some shows at the Highline Performing Arts Center with 800 seats – “our spiritual home.” Grow a ‘garden of artists’ Kathleen Edwards, the Hi-Liner’s Artistic Director, said the group is beginning to “grow our own garden of artists, but we really don’t have opportunities to pay actors. That is our next goal. We want to start writing our own musicals and mounting shows for young audiences, pre-school and K through 2. There are not enough opportunities for parents to take their children to theatre at that age, and we know how to do it.” When they send students off to college and “when they come back, we want to give them a job. That makes me be able to sleep at night.” She said it “breaks our heart that we cannot perform in Burien – we belong in Burien, we ought to be here.” Clean up the chips Resident Byron Richardson said he lives on SW 166th Street, which is largely a gravel roadway about 2,000 feet long with seven residences. One of those homes was sold in January and the person who purchased the house hired tree contractors who trimmed trees and left a large pile of bark chips infringing on roadside parking. One neighbor posted a sign asking for removal of the chips, but the sign “disappeared in about two days” and ‘the bark chips are still there.” Richardson said he filed out a complaint form at City Hall but has near nothing for “about two weeks.” Mayor Lucy Krakowiak said city staff would look into the matter.]]>