Analysis by Jack Mayne

For the past few years, Burien’s City Council elections have been a bit more contentious with two sides (or more at times) struggling to control the city’s government.

During the 20-plus years of the city’s existence, Council elections consisted of just enough money to pay filing fees, buy a few yard signs and maybe an ad or two in local media. Campaign expenses were usually around a thousand bucks, often less, and with donations from just a few friends and family.

There is something new this year, though, money, lots of it, and apparently mostly spent in just two cities, Burien and SeaTac – a Tukwila candidate did get a small amount. Most of the money comes from large, election savvy unions, but the Public Disclosure Commission records are often out of date and sometimes have gaps later filled in. The PDC is well known to be under staffed and under financed although most observers feel the staff does its work the best it can under its obstacles.

Pay the bills
The political action committee that is supporting Burien candidates Austin Bell, Holli Giffin and Jon Scherer apparently does not give the money directly to the candidates, but instead pays many of their bills.

The fourth candidate is local shop owner Darla Green who said she is entirely funded by Burien money, either her own money or donations from Burien residents. She emphasized that “no Seattle money” is used in her election bid.

Reelection seekers, Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Councilmember Bob Edgar told the PDC they would raise “no more than $5,000 plus filing fees.”

One example of this process is the Oct. 21 “Electioneering Communications” report by the South King County Working Families PAC, which shows it spent $14,013.41 so far in the campaign for Bell, Giffin and Scherer campaign costs. The committee for SeaTac candidates paid similar costs. And not all of the costs of this election campaign are fully reported to the PDC, or if they are, the numbers are not listed by the state agency yet.

The Public Disclosure Commission lists one payment, for example, of $4,474 that covered printing and mailing for Bell, Giffin and Scherer. The money is then charged to the various unions that finance the political action committee supporting candidates in Burien and SeaTac.

Raised $73K
The South King County Working Families PAC has raised from its union partners and others $73,000, it told the disclosure commission, and had spent by last week $65,515 and listed a “debt” of $1,500.

Among the unions participating in the South King County Working Families Political Action Committee include locals of the Service Employee International Union, Teamsters Union, United Food and Commercial Workers, Unite Here Local 8 and the Sustainable Futures Political Action Committee controlled by State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon of Burien,

The Service Employees union, the SEIU, is one of the largest unions participating in election campaign in the state and probably in the nation. Search of the union in the Public Disclosure Website show page after page of activity.

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

53 replies on “ANALYSIS: Are unions trying to buy Burien’s City Council election?”

  1. Thanks Jack for the update! 🙂
    Its pretty obvious to me that the answer to the question you posed is YES!
    The South King County Working Families Political Action Committee is definitely trying to influence/buy our election. Austin Bell, Holli Giffen and Jon Sherer are the tools that will beholding to them if they get elected. I personally don’t want someone who is beholding to outside interests on my city council!

    1. I am dismayed by the way the Burien Council race has been presented to the folks of Burien. We had a canvasser come to our neighborhood promoting Darla Green. Not by what the woman could do for the fair City of Burien, but to speak poorly of the other candidates. I voted for for the people I felt would care for and bring progress to Burien. I voted for Austin Bell, Holli Giffin and Jon Scherer. Smear tactics do not work with me.

      1. Unfortunately, though, scare tactics do work with many voters. So do personal attacks on those who disagree with the good ol’ boy Lake Burien insiders. I wonder why Edgar et al didn’t list on his campaign literature his vigorous efforts for a permanent ban on public access to Lake Burien or down zoning his neighborhood to increase property values.

        1. Lee, take the foil funnel off of your head. Changing the land use density doesn’t increase property values but it does increase protection to critical areas. This comment of yours is as stupid as the one you made advising people to poop on beaches.

          1. Hey, Lee, I recall reading that wacko comment from you that Joe referred to. You really did advise people to poop on beaches. I’ m not going to waste my time searching through old blogs to find it, but you said it. People on this blog laughed for weeks about it.

      2. Bonnie, I have no idea of what transpired between and the doorbeller. But I do know that Darla Green was the only business owner who stood up to Lauren Berkowitz and the Seattle protest mob Lauren invited into our city. Darla stands to a safer Burien. Lauren Berkowitz and the 3 clones(Sherer, Bell, Giffin) she has endored in the election could care less about a safe Burien.
        They don’t even care about Burien. They have never done one bit of community service for this city. They have never belonged to a Block Watch even though their phoney flyer says they want people to belong to Block Watches. Not one of them would know a Block Watch if it came up and bite them on the butt.
        Darla have her life and business threatened for daring to stand up to Lauren Berkowitz and Lauren’s imported mob. Frankly, you should be thanking Darla for the fact that Burien’s Downtown and parks are safer to use for you, children and families today. If you had really bothered to read this blog and all the flyer that have come out, you would know that Scherer, Giffin and Bell are shills of Lauren Berkowitz and the Socialist Alternative Party (Swant). Even though Brian Bennett(EX-mayor) is now making illegal robocalls for them the calls are illegal. Mr. Bennett is now trying to sell these three putzs as Dems. But OH, Mr, Bennett, City Council elections are supposed to be non partisan, Did you forget?

      3. Smear tactics don’t work well for me, either, Bonnie. That’s why I was out canvassing all the beautiful areas that make Burien so amazing! The people in our city are hard working, kind, and honest. When you have a great product to share with people, you don’t have to resort to smear tactics. My family and I have voted for Darla Green, Lucy Krakowiak, and Bob Edgar.

  2. Thanks Jack for writing this article. It disproves that silly Union shill T. Boyd who has claimed on this web site that there really isn’t an Outside PAC-South King County Working Families PAC trying to buy this Burien election. T. Boyd is a plant of Lauren Berkowitz and the Outside PAC and his intent is to confuse Burien voters about what is happening in this election. Vote for the real, Burien funded candidates;Bob Edgar, Darla Green and Lucy K,

  3. Here are a couple links that explain why unions are in favor of the $15 an hour minimum wage. Essentially union members stand to increases in pay which in turn means more dues paid to the unions. The unions may say they’re trying to help but leave out the fact they’re really trying to help themselves.
    The first link is to Forbes and you’ll have to sit through a splash before for a few seconds before getting to the article.
    This link is from a conservative think tank so take it with a grain of salt.

    1. Oh come on, Mike! Many people benefiting from these wages are not paying any union dues at all because they aren’t members of unions.
      In fact, SEIU and many others support higher minimum wages because we reject the “greed is good” shareholder value uber alles mentality and believe that the wealth from massive productivity gains should be shared by everyone in our economy.
      I once worked for minimum wage when it was $1.25 an hour. If the minimum wage had
      kept up with per capita productivity since then, it would now be $22 an hour. From WW2 until about the mid-70s median wages kept up with productivity, but since then they have been pretty much flat, and that immense difference in wealth has been stolen.
      You should be attacking those politicians and lobbyists who are shilling for the thieves, not those who are struggling for the true interests of the American people.

      1. Oh come on Terry, you are a shill for this outside PAC. Just who do you think is working for the best interests of the American people? It is not David Rolf from SEIU. SEIU’s goals have been to increase upper level salaries, increase union membership and increase that amount of power they have for bargaining and elections. These SEIU guys are not the St. Anthonys of the American people. It is all about money and power for them. Go sell you soap on another street corner about how these guys are saints for the American people. If they were really interested in the American people they would resign their union positions and campaign for campaign spending reform so that quality politicians didn’t need a fortune to get into office. Instead these guys are trying to buy this election in Burien.

      2. did anybody notice that UNIONS ARE EXEMPT from the $15 minimum? this is because unions negotiate their salaries. NO UNION MEMBER making less than $15 before got a raise with this law.
        the real purpose of the $15 minimum was to force employers to welcome unions, so they could PAY LESS than the $15 minimum while the UNIONS THEMSELVES make more money from increased membership. this is why unions blew over $2.5 million to campaign for the $15 law so hard.
        this hurts employees, especially union employees making less than $15.
        open your eyes and see the big picture. more here.

  4. The answer to why unions are putting money into this election and these candidates can be found in the links below. My assumption is candidates Bell, Giffen and Scherer all support the $15 minimum wage. Unions will profit off a minimum wage increase through increased wages for their members which will result in more dues paid to the unions.
    If you’re ok with that, then you should also be totally OK with large corporations giving money to political campaigns as well.
    This link is to a Forbes article. You’ll get a short splash page before going to the article.
    This is to the Heritage Foundation which is a conservative think tank so take the information with a grain of salt.

  5. Unions do help. I come from a union family and I in union myself local 32. Do any of your employers offer three different pensions, free medical, vision, and dental for you and your family, a matched 401k. Do you have a voice to speak out if your unhappy with your work environment probably not.

    1. Btown;
      The unions were heavily behind SeaTac’s $15 minimum wage initiative. What made me mad was they EXCLUDED themselves from it. Yes, if a shop went union, it did not have to pay $15. So who really was the union working for?
      Yes, over many decades, unions have accomplished many good things for the working person. But they are not necessarily there for their members. Ask the UPS retirees who are getting their pension payments halved because the unions did no invest wisely.(True story this week.)
      But the positives and negatives of unions is not the issue here. It is their infiltration into small city local politics, and it’s happening all over the country. Our city councils (I live in SeaTac) are supposed to be non-partisan, and the members are supposed to be working for the citizens. Not a union, not outside interests, not political parties.

    2. Unions still provide some benefit to workers, but the problem has become that unions have become heavily political. I am a union member, but only because I had to join in order to keep my job (because Democrats/Unions will not allow Washington to become a Right To Work state). I HATE that my dues go to politics. Unions would be better for everyone if they were banned from engaging in politics. They could (even more effectively) provide what Btown Viking speaks of.

    3. Btown Viking,
      in my duplicate posts regarding the unions and their support of candidates Bell, Giffen and Scherer, I never said nor did I intend to imply that unions don’t help. I just think unions should not use voters to increase the wages for their membership.
      Most of the union members I know and this includes my father (retired) and my brother do not see eye to eye with the political contributions from the unions to democratic and now socialist causes.

    4. Btown Vikings, I used to belong to Local 174. Now I work for a non-union company and get benefits similar to those which you list. I do not deny the value of unions. I think the point of this article though is to show that Giffin, Bell, and Scherer are getting outside money, whereas the others are not. What will the union expect Giffin, Bell, and Scherer to support? And will this be what Burien needs?
      I do not think Giffin, Bell, or Scherer are what Burien needs. Darla Green, Lucy Krakowiak and Bob Edgar have Burien’s interests in mind – such as making the city safer and more economically vibrant. The other candidates, on the other hand, are beholden to the unions and outside interests.
      They have a different agenda which is why today I voted for Darla Green, Lucy Krakowiak, and Bob Edgar.

  6. Hey Btown viking, I’m glad you’re happy with you union and I think it should say at your work place and not controlling who will sits on my City Council. So see that is where I think that your PAC union group has crossed the line by invading and trying to dictating (with your slimy PAC money) who can be on my city council. I now have enough of that PAC’s phony flyers to cover a major section of a wall. And where is your unions concern for the environment by wasting all of that paper? And why didn’t your union correctly vet Bell, Giffin and Scherer?
    These phony flyers keep saying these people are leaders but they have never been leaders in Burien. Giffin doesn’t even have a job and she hasn’t paid her creditors and is bankrupt. Bell appears to have worked very little. And they haven’t ever done squat for Burien. Is your union a liar in what it supports on flyers?

    1. You cut to the chase Joe. None of these union backed candidates bring any useful experience to the table, unless you count getting LB’s endoresment as experience. 🙁

        1. This question has already been answered 2 or 3 times about Darla Green on this blog. But here it is again;
          1.ran clothing drives at her childrens school
          2. donated clothing, lots of it from these drives, to the Highline Scholl District
          3. adopted 2 or 3 families for annual Christmas baskets
          4. organized food drives for our local food banks
          5. works in and sponsors a neighborhood Block Watch
          6. attends Burien Council meetings and wrote correspondence to the council to protect families, businesses and public spaces
          7. attends the citizen advisory board on Economic Development
          8.runs fund raisers for animal rescue
          9. volunteered to work with a shelter
          And Austin Bell, Holli Giffin and Jon Scherer have done nothing for Burien by their own admissions. Total duds.
          It is not even clear whether Austin Bell really even lives in Burien. He has never answered that question.
          You are a total shill and troll for the outside PAC.

          1. Actually I am none of the things that you just said. Thank you for listing out the things that Darla has done for our community. I honestly didn’t know. I have more important things to do then to read this blog everyday, so I never saw any other posts.

  7. …..And why does a Union Pac care about public access to Lake Burien? That was last weeks mailer. Really? That’s the same issue LB keeps harping about. I wonder how is leading whom?

  8. Have been silent long enough…am glad to see an unbiased analysis done which helps expose the corruptness of unions and “progressive” (read “communist”) politicians/ideology.
    Darla Green, Lucy Krakowiak, and Bob Edgar have each received my vote. Be smart, be informed…and don’t forget to vote!

  9. I believe unions are necessary to stand up for worker’s rights. Private businesses are often motivated purely for profit at the expense of their employees. I’ve worked at non-union shops and have seen owners provide minimal benefits and non-living wages. I’ve seen an owner threaten their employees with firing if they don’t work 12 hour shifts on the weekend with no regard to their employees’ responsibilities at home. I’ve seen one company’s owners cut employees pay during slow times only to then go on vacation to Italy for a month the next day, expenses charged to the company. Unions are unfortunately necessary to give workers rights against many profit-driven companies. Justice for all.

  10. Sorry DT, I don’t accept your premise that unions are a necessary evil that we must all endure because all private business owners are dishonest. I have also observed extreme corrupt in unions against their own members like; embezzling funds, thuggery, bullying, violence, demanding sex for special favors or protection, joining with the crime bosses to get what the union wants and getting into politics in a manner that the membership doesn’t support. Most of the membership is not aware of some of the large salaries the overlords in the unions pay themselves, the business expense budgets they give themselves or the special perks and toys they give to themselves on the workers backs. I’m not opposed to unions as long as they focus their activities in the work place, remain honest and transparent to the membership and stay out of trying to control my life or who sits on my city council, etc. This junk with their trying to buy the council seats in Burien and Sea Tac stinks. And the candidates that take money from them stink too(Scherer, Giffin and Bell). These three candidates are political h*es in my book. That is why I voted for Bob Edgar, Lucy Krackowiak and Darla Green.

  11. Jack, thank you for writing this article. It confirms what some Burien and Sea Tac citizens have been saying about how these large money PACS come into town and buy seats on their Council to advance the PAC’s agendas. Attached is a letter from the Sea Tac blog and what the ex mayor of Sea Tac says about this.
    Former Mayor Gene Fisher says:
    October 29, 2015 at 3:59 pm
    Candidates, I am so sorry !!!!!!!
    So it begins! I know the process firsthand! The lies in 2011 from Barry Ladenberg mailings derived from the Angle Lake Political PAC and choreographed by Mia’s Progressive and Socialist endeavors all supported by the Patterson Political Machine, and their Firefighter and Union affiliates have had great success proffering blatant lies that successfully sway the electorate in the city of SeaTac.
    I know from my 14-year political tenure in SeaTac that in order to get firefighter and union support you need to promise to raise taxes for the purchase of more toys and bigger salaries, so I commend, as should the citizens, those of you that had the integrity to not succumb to their pressure. It may cost you the election, but you knew the risks, yet stood up for the citizens!
    These folks know that lying can evolve to downright slander with no repercussions; even though I was a dedicated Mayor one term and Deputy Mayor two terms the citizens succumbed to these outright lies. In my case the lies in mailed flyers were not enough, they hired numerous foot soldiers, many from the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators, to go door to door to slander me.
    The results for them were immediate and will be this time. I voted down the utility taxes many times, which is related to the $15 an hour wage that drives you out of the city just to be able to afford a hamburger.
    Gene Fisher, Former Mayor of SeaTac
    So Burien citizens let’s not let what happened to Sea Tac happen to us. Vote for the candidates that are locally supported, Green, Edgar and Krackowiak. They are invested and care about Burien.

  12. Every one talks about how Austin, Jon, and Holli, have done nothing for their community – yet I haven’t seen anywhere that Darla has done anything specifically for her community. The only reason I singled out Darla is because I have seen things about Bob and Lucy. Can someone clear this up for me? I want to make sure I vote for the right candidates.

    1. How about the food drive she just did at her business for Transform Burien? How about her offering input to the city council and BEDP? (Austin, Holli and Jon have offered none.)
      People note that this is not the same person as “I Love Burien” (capital L) who supports Bob, Darla and Lucy. Good job trying to be sneaky.

    2. Just scroll up where someone lists the things Darla has done for our community. Oh, and in addition to those ten things she also was part of the group that opened the art gallery in Old Burien to bring in customers for all the small businesses there. This has benefited the restaurants mostly, but also shows we are a vibrant community with appreciation for the arts.

  13. I cannot see how this is an unbiased article at all. However, everyone is entitled to their opinions.

  14. I see it as reporting the facts.
    He asked you to draw your own conclusion. However imo that conclusion is a no brainer unless you are wearing blinders. 🙂

  15. I think people are painting all of the people running with the same brush if they are not incumbents. It is fairly traditional at election time for some political organization to endorse candidates even at the local level.
    There are three candidates running who have signed up for minimal reporting meaning they will spend less than $5000 on their campaigns not including filing fees, they are Lucy Krakowiak, Bob Edgar and John Scherer. The remaining candidates are spending much more.
    For some, unions have become the enemy. Do we really want to return to the days of no weekends and getting fired if you get pregnant?
    The conspiracy stuff seems to be very popular nowadays.
    I for one, would hope that no matter who gets elected, they can manage to solve the problems confronting the city without making national news for being insensitive jerks, and writing laws that would just end up costing us more in the long run. There are solutions, you just have to be willing to work at them.

      1. Shill, Phony, Fake, Chatelaine, Imposter all describe you, I love Burien. You even hijacked another blogger’s name. Go pound sand.

        1. Thse things actually DON’T describe me. I own a home here, and spend all my money here. So….YOU go pound sand! 🙂

    This link will take you directly to the page where you can clearly see that Darla also has “outside money”. Why lie? Why say your campaign funds are only from you or Burien residents?
    I don’t really want to know the answer, because I honestly don’t care. Darla did the same thing that Holli, Jon, and Austin did – she went to the people and the organizations that she has a relatiionship with and asked them to donate. Big deal.

    1. 76% of Darla’s money is from Burien. Compare that to 44% for Holli and 36% for Austin. She NEVER said her campaign was only funded by Burien residents. I ask you the same question you asked Darla: Why lie?

      1. Did you not read the blog that you are commenting on????
        This is taken directly from the above “unbiased” blog that Jack wrote:
        ‘The fourth candidate is local shop owner Darla Green who said she is entirely funded by Burien money, either her own money or donations from Burien residents. She emphasized that “no Seattle money” is used in her election bid.’

  17. Sounds like somebody has a little baby kangaroo in their pouch! Nice try posing as me. Everyone already knows that I have already voted for Darla Green, Lucy Krakowiak, and Bob Edgar. The only obvious choice for a person that loves Burien and truly cares about the people that call it home. I want to see our city prosper.

    1. I don’t know what that means, but those three are NOT the only choice for Burien!! Of the 6 that are running for office 2 of them have already been on the council for a number of years and nothing has changed! If we want REAL change, kick out the 2 that already had their chance.

  18. It feels like this B-town city council election has brought out the worst in us. I really dislike seeing posters just argue, argue, argue all the time. Thank god it’s only one more day. Yeah, yeah, I know the drill… go ahead and flame me in 3… 2… 1…

  19. What do you mean >>> nothing has changed? That is a nutty statement.
    For 1 >>> we no longer have an incompetent drunk for city manager.. he is gonzo thanks to CHANGE on the city council when he lost his allies last election.
    For 2 >>> Annexation has been TAKEN OFF THE TABLE> These are BIG CHANGES! There is also much more emphasis on public safety than the previous council supported.
    However>>> We would have had much more positive change >>>except we have a bat guano crazy council woman who lied her way onto the council who wastes half the councils time on inanities to push her private agenda on the rest of us at every council meeting.

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