The City of Burien’s contracted engagement with Nash Consulting for the City Manager’s performance evaluation was recently unexpectedly terminated, according to an email sent by the firm’s CEO Ethan Nash on Dec. 21, 2023.

The decision – attributed to ethical concerns and questions about the process’s integrity – raises questions about the future of the City Manager’s evaluation and transparency in Burien’s government.

In the letter, Nash cites several reasons for withdrawing from the contract:

  • His primary concern stems from the alleged lack of “seriousness” with which the initial evaluation was received by “key stakeholders.”
  • Additionally, Nash expresses doubts that “constructive action” was taken in response to the feedback provided in the report.

Further complicating matters is the recent handling of a Public Records Request, which, according to Nash, has “raised concerns regarding [Nash Consulting’s] ability to guarantee the confidentiality of interviewees and survey participants.” This potential breach of trust, Nash states, jeopardizes the validity of any future evaluations conducted by his firm.

“Given these circumstances,” Nash concludes, “we believe that continuing our work on the City Manager’s evaluation would be more detrimental than beneficial to us and, more importantly, the City of Burien.”

Connie Roberts, Burien’s Senior HR Analyst, confirmed the termination in a subsequent email to the Mayor and City Council, stating that she will work with City Attorney Garmon Newsom II to finalize a contract amendment ending the engagement. Furthermore, Roberts plans to convene a meeting with the newly-seated leadership to discuss how to proceed with the City Manager’s evaluation moving forward.

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We reached out to the City of Burien for a reaction, and their response was that they “will not be commenting on the status of this contract at this time.”

However, the termination of the contract casts a shadow over the City Manager’s evaluation process and raises concerns about transparency and accountability within Burien’s government. The public is likely to have questions about who the specific “key stakeholders” who allegedly disregarded the initial evaluation, the nature of the “constructive action” not taken, and details surrounding the Public Records Request that compromised confidentiality.

As a new Mayor and Councilmembers prepare to take office this month, they will be tasked with navigating this sensitive situation and determining the path forward for the City Manager’s evaluation. Whether they choose to seek a new consultant, conduct the evaluation internally, or pursue a different approach altogether remains to be seen.

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