By Jack Mayne

After an executive session at the end of a nearly four hour study session, the Burien City Council voted 4-3 Monday night (Sept. 26) to have the city attorney prepare a “separation agreement” for City Manager Kamuron Gurol, effective next week.

No reason was given and no discussion of the firing was made in public.

Still another ‘executive session’
There was some indication of another potential personnel action at the very beginning of the monthly Council study session Monday night (Sept. 26).

Mayor Lucy Krakowiak asked to add an executive session to the agenda.

Councilmember Steve Armstrong said an executive session was unnecessary, then the Council voted 4-3 to hold one to “discuss the performance of a public official” at the end of the meeting.< Such sessions are permissible by law, and the last such series of special sessions concluded with Dan Trimble, Burien’s economic development manager for many years, leaving the city staff Sept. 19 after a series of executive City Council meetings behind closed doors, and the Council approval of a “separation agreement,” the details of which were not revealed to the city electorate. The ax fell
After the executive session, Mayor Krakowiak moved “to initiate a separation agreement for the City Manager, Kamuron Gurol and request his resignation by Oct. 6, 2016. I ask the city attorney to prepare this agreement.”

The motion was seconded by Deputy Mayor Bob Edgar.

There was no discussion of the motion and the Council voted 4–3 to fire Gurol.

Those voting to terminate Gurol were Mayor Krakowiak, Deputy Mayor Edgar, and Councilmembers Lauren Berkowitz, and Nancy Tosta.

Opposing the ouster of Gurol were Councilmembers Steve Armstrong, Debi Wagner and Austin Bell. Wagner commented she was “very opposed” to the effective firing.

Without further comment, the Council adjourned
Earlier the B-Town Blog was made aware of management evaluations circulated to Councilmembers that had poor marks for Gurol’s performance by those who voted for his “separation” and higher marks by his supporters.

Hired in 2014
The B-Town Blog reported in March 2014 that Gurol had been hired by a unanimous 7-0 vote effective April 16, 2014.

He was at the time the assistant city manager and community development director for the City of Sammamish.
He previously has been a corridor planning manager for the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Urban Planning Office, director of the Kitsap County Department of Community Development, and manager of the Snohomish County Planning Division. Gurol began his work in growth management and environmental and natural resource planning with King County. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the University of Washington and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Gurol’s starting pay in 2014 was $155,000.]]>

Since 2007, The B-Town Blog is Burien’s multiple award-winning hyperlocal news/events website dedicated to independent journalism.

45 replies on “Burien City Manager Kamuron Gurol fired at Monday night’s council session”

  1. My faith in the entire City Hall staff is being tested as there seem to be an underlying systemic problem from the top down. Granted, there are some huge issues out there but the fact various levels of leadership are being fired sets a bad tone for positive thinking.

  2. BTB, will there be continued investigating into why this transpired?
    Many of us follow the council agendas/packets, and I hadn’t seen any indications that there were “issues” with his performance, etc.
    Very curious about what exactly happened, and I’m more concerned about the short/long term management of our city.

  3. A very sad day for Burien. The City “leaders” just lost one of the most dedicated and honest and least self serving public servants they will ever be able to attract. They lost Kamuron Gurol at their own hand and will only discover the ramifications of their actions as the future for this troubled city unfolds.

  4. It seems that a very good reason should be included, transparency, in something like this. Maybe it is time for the City of Burien to start having the people vote for a City Manager so that someone can not be blindsided and sent packing because 4 people from the total population of the city decide such an action. I see that there has, or was, any previous issues mentioned by the council to start the ball rolling on removal.

  5. Maybe it is time to let the people vote on a City Manager instead of allowing, in this case, 4 people from the entire population of the city make a decision on something so important as to who sits in the City Manager’s chair. Especially when this happened without what seems to be NO previous issues.

  6. What the hell is going on with this group of council members? I found Mr. Gurol very likeable and easy to approach and speak with. This is so disheartening and I’m sick of all the secret-squirrel stuff. The next election can’t come soon enough!

  7. Transparency seems to be government’s go-to keyword whenever they attempt a cover-up. It’s obvious the council is perpetuating the ‘we know better than the public so we just do what we want and screwarding you common people”. I can’t believe we actually pay these morons.

    1. In my reporting experience, transparency is for losers. The outs cry for transparency but when they become the ins they don’t care anymore. It’s so inconvenient and time consuming. After all, they are the “good guys” so transparency is not needed.
      Remember, before Mike Martin left his entire last performance review was made public. Citizens knew what each council member thought of his performance.

    1. Certainly a fair question Ghost. I am growing so leery of what is being done in secret. If they had a valid reason for either dismissal, why not come out and say so. It does no good for either of these men to leave us all wondering why this has happened.

  8. To be so secretive about firing yet another key decision maker speaks volumes about the lack of vision and leadership of our council. A good example of why it is time to move on. Burien is going down the tube faster than my property value!

  9. City Manager Gurol was very committed and extremely responsive under difficult working conditions. Mainly idiots, he had to put up with, called our ineffective Burien City Council!
    Kamuron, you did a very good job! Thank you. You are capable of much more and deserve more then what can be offer here! Best wishes to you and your family. The majority of Burien citizens appreciated your efforts. We experienced results in a very very difficult environment. Burien will ontinue to limp along.

  10. Of course we should respect his privacy, but I have always been very impressed with how Mr. Gurol has responded to public inquiry and intense demands. I find this troubling.

  11. Will the B-Town Blog be following up on this story by filing a Freedom of Information Request with the City to unearth any and all documentation related to and supporting this firing?
    I attended my first Burien City Council meeting on the 19th where then City Manager Gurol provided an update on work he was going to undertake when it came to the Sea-Tac Airport / FAA issue and while this was my first time hearing him speak, there was nothing in his actions that led me to believe he was anything but devoted to working on behalf of the citizens to bring their concerns to light. Could there perhaps be other things going on, sure, I suppose there could. But at this point, everyone seems pretty blindsided and unclear as to what on earth could possibly be occurring that would require this sort of drastic action to take place.
    With the same action being taken against the Economic Development manager (that also *just* happened – and was spoken of at that very meeting on the 19th – including the obligatory “well wishes” from the council and Gurol), I too am extremely concerned as to what is going on in our city that we feel like we need to fire staff members on the order of two per month. Who’s next? Gurol has been here not even two years. Should the brand new City Attorney be working on her own separation agreement too?
    The citizens have a right to have a very clear understanding as to what’s happening in our city and with our officials. This cloak and dagger treatment by the council with absolutely no public disclosure is shameful.

  12. I find it curious the Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble was also fired just a short time ago. In the council notes regarding the meeting to get rid of him, there was mention of a potential impending legal action. Is there a possible connection?
    It will be interesting to see if and when we, the public, are ever given a straight answer about it. It is our tax dollars that pay their salaries, after all. It is the least they could do.
    In our dealings with Mr. Gurol, he was very responsive, proactive, considerate and professional, and seemed to hold his staff to a much higher standard than his predecessor.
    Also, a strange foursome that agreed on the firing of Mr. Gurol. Not the usual allies…
    I smell a rat!

    1. Maybe Trimble and Gurol were following the management style of Mike Martin. With the mention of possible legal action there may be a different side to this story. I’ll wait to pass judgment. It does seem fishy.

  13. I am VERY disappointed by this action.
    I attend the Council meetings. The problem I have seen is the council not giving clear direction to staff.
    Councilman Armstrong had argued to do the didcussion in public but was decided to do this in secret.
    Is this because thete was no good reason??? mmmmm

    1. If I am not mistaken, the council is allowed to discuss the firing in an Executive Session, which is private, but the announcement of the firing has to be done in a public meeting.
      In regard to your comment about the council not giving clear direction to staff – the problem here is the council is made up of mostly lay people, who are on the council part-time and who have virtually no experience in government or public service. They have authority to direct the staff. Staff can advise them or give input, but ultimately, it is their decision, whether they are qualified to make it or not. Just one of the CONS of a council-manager form of government.
      This whole thing is eerily similar to the shenanigans that have plagued the City of Sea Tac for the last several years. Can’t wait to see what the real back story is here…

  14. I don’t follow city politics closely but I have written Mr. Gurol on numerous occasions about problems I have seen as I walk my dogs around the city center. On every occasion I have received quick and courteous replies and better yet, he addressed every concern and often went the extra step to fix the problems I was writing about. If this isn’t a sign of a good city manager what is? I hope the council had probable cause to make this decision; Mr. Gurol was just on the job long enough to really learn the in and outs of how the city works. Now we start all over again.

  15. I am very disappointed and frustrated with this dysfunctional council. When the majority CM have their own agenda a heart, and lack the compassion for our community and those working hard to better it, you have to question “should they hold these seats”. Why not let us as a community do a performance review on each CM and then take action against those who are failing us. I think the power they derive from being in office has led them to forget why we voted them onto the council and instead misuse this power for personal agendas. It was obvious from the CARE’s dispute that there was a lack of concern by certain CM’s for a community who wanted to keep it. Those CM’s who voted against Cares were not taking into account the good it did for our city but rather their own “personal” vendettas against those running it. Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to Kamuron. Knowing that we as a city would be outraged at the thought of firing Mr. Gurol there was no public disclosure. These four CM cowards hid behind closed doors so they could vent their own “personal” vendettas toward him with no respect for us as a community or consideration of the impact it would have on our city. In my personal performance reviews, CM’s Wagner, Bell and Armstrong have positive score cards – CM’s Berkowitz, Tosta, Edgar and Krakowiak fail miserably and should be FIRED! Mr. Gurol should be reinstated until they share with the City of Burien WHY he was let go! Outraged!

  16. This is very upsetting. Burien was lucky to get someone like Kamuron Gurol. He is a true professional that wanted to bring Burien up to a higher level of operations.
    I am so sick of all the vote-trading, arguing, and general dysfunctional behavior of this Council. The secrecy is infuriating!
    Wishing Kamuron the best; sad for our little City that clearly needs new leadership..

  17. I’ve known Kam Gurol for decades. He’s an incredibly able and ethical public servant. And I know how much he cares about Burien. He was a real booster for the city. In a era of ugly partisan politics, Kam Gurol is a smart, compassionate guy who always considers the greater good and who looks for common ground–rather than taking cheap shots or inflaming the differences between people for petty political gain. In other words: an endangered species. Good luck finding a better city manager.

  18. This is why we need an ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE MAYOR. I for one am tired of all these things done in “Executive Session” This council needs to start being more forthcoming with the constituents they serve.

  19. This is why we need an ELECTED BY THE PEOPLE MAYOR. I for one am tired of all these things done in “Executive Session” This council needs to start being more forthcoming with the constituents they serve.

  20. I was sad to hear about this happening. Mr. Gurol always responded in a timely and courteous manner to my inquiries and concerns. Because of the way this council operates it’s going to be very hard to find a quality candidate to fill this job.

  21. Kamuron is an extraordinarily talented public servant. My heart goes out to the Burien community in their loss of this terrific leader!

  22. Very sad and concerning news. Burien is an up and coming place that I am feeling more proud to call home the longer I live here. Dismissing effective, responsive and dedicated employees in the face of positive momentum just makes no sense to me, and is a giant step backwards for Burien. Based on the comments in this thread, this termination was also undeserved. I wish Mr Gurol well. Definitely a loss for Burien.

  23. Ah yes, the mysterious executive session. A gathering to be used in situations of last resort.
    The council may have had good reasons for their decision. I have no idea.
    Noone else does either. I ask our councilpersons to please give the unwashed a hint of what is going on.
    I am sure that you know what us good for us ( read “I hope” ) . But let us share in that decision.
    .We can handle it. Tom Taaffe

  24. Ah yes, the mysterious executive session. A gathering to be used in situations of last resort.
    The council may have had good reasons for their decision. I have no idea.
    Noone else does either. I ask our councilpersons to please give the unwashed a hint of what is going on.
    I am sure that you know what us good for us ( read “I hope” ) . But let us share in that decision.
    .We can handle it. Tom Taaffe

  25. I just got a message that I am posting comments too quickly. And to slow down.,WTF?
    My comment was blown off. Aargh!

  26. No need to worry about a new city logo – new tag line – why spend money on this…when this kind of crud is going on. Council members not showing up, being present, no transparency to the people of Burien -we deserve better! I have seen nothing but professinalism from our city manager. Help your citizens, your city – Thank you Mr. Armstrong for always trying to do what is best for us in a difficult situation dealt.

  27. Monday night the City Council is going to discuss ehat yo about a temporary City Manager
    Anyone who feels this firing was misguided can express their displeasure to the Council during the public comment part of the meeting

  28. I attended the City Council meeting last night and I must say I was extremely impressed by the poise and professionalism shown by City Manager Gurol in the execution of his duties during the meeting – even in the face of knowing he was a mere 3 days away from being out of a job.
    I can’t imagine how awkward it must have been to be sitting there in front of and having to interact with the Judases on the council that voted to terminate his employment with the city in the manor in which they did. Kudos, City Manager Gurol, on being a stand up public servant. Your dedication to our city will be missed and the citizens of Burien wish the very best for you moving forward!
    There were a number of citizens that admonished the council in public comments to which, of course, the council members had no response. Cool, guys, that’s great.
    Lets not mince words here: If Mayor Krakowiak, Deputy Mayor Edgar, and CMs Berkowitz & Tosta were men and women of character they would have taken time to explain the decision verbally or at the very least issue an official press release to this end. Instead, they chose to do discuss this under the cloak of an executive session, take action, and ultimately offer absolutely no indication to the citizens as to why they have moved to remove the second high-ranking city staff member. Let the high-fives and chest-bumps for municipal government transparency commence!
    If these four (4) council members are so inept as to be unable to see how their new found penchant for steamrolling over city staff for sport is not going to sit well with the citizens who they represent, I can only hope they aren’t surprised when karma comes around during election time and thousands of their friends and neighbors don’t feel the need for their services any longer. Call me old fashioned, but I tend to prefer my elected officials to be serving the interest of the public rather than their own. Something tells me I may not be in the minority with that desire either.
    In the end, this reckless action taken by the council serves only to hurt the City of Burien. I can only hope that we will somehow find our way out of this mess and that these actions will not impugn the credibility of our city to the point that we are unable to attract a new qualified city manager. The best way I can see to make that happen is to extricate those from the council that don’t share a belief that the public should be partners in the process.
    Mayor Krakowiak, Deputy Mayor Edgar, and CMs Berkowitz & Tosta by their actions have made it clear that they believe they know better than the rest of us mere citizens. Now it’s up to us, good men and women of the City of Burien, to show them the err of their ways at the next election.

  29. Absolutely astounding! The Council had no idea of the quality person they had in Mr Gurol. How DARE they treat him, and the City of Burien, with such recklessness.

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