[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,

Breaking your word makes you untrustworthy. Alternatively, keeping promises creates confidence that makes things happen.

Radical Honesty
I want the City Council to communicate cleanly.

I keep my communication clean and when errors occur I clean them up; not sweep them under a rug. A recent misstatement of mine can serve as a teaching moment.

I wrote the City Council, City Manager, and Editor of The B-Town Blog:

Dear Council Members,

I wish to make a correction in my previous letter to you.

I stated that a Council Member had contacted the City Attorney regarding a letter she disagreed with. Upon reviewing the video I realize that Council Member Tosta said “she concurs with the City Attorney” rather than she concurred with the City Attorney. This video statement can be seen at the 45 minute mark.

All other statements are accurate.

– Dick West

My credibility is enhanced, not damaged by owning my errors.

I want you to own your words and actions. To do less puts you and Burien on dangerous ground.

The Slippery Slope
Promise breakers often:

  1. Blame
  2. Make excuses
  3. Justify actions or words

Blaming is irresponsible. Being responsible is about fixing problems, not the blame. When was the last time you blamed someone and it solved the problem?

Excuses are like saying, “I am not the kind of person who does that”. If you are making excuses you are that kind of person. If you don’t like how this sounds: keep your word.

Justification is pointing out, “They are doing it too!”, as a way of making your actions OK. This path leads to revenge and gridlock.

These behaviors serve your agenda, not Burien’s.

How I do anything is how I do everything
If you’re breaking promises in one place, I bet you’re doing it elsewhere.

Council Policies create performance expectations. Ignoring Policy breaks your Oath of Office, plunging Burien into chaos and crazy-making.

Two examples are:

  1. Terminating City Manager Gurol
  2. Chronic absenteeism

Both examples raise legal questions. Both appear inconsistent with Council Policies.

Terminating a City Manager
Page 30 of “City Council Guidelines” contains RCW 35A.130.13. The relevant sentences are in bold font:

RCW 35A.13.130

City manager—Removal—Resolution and notice.

The city manager shall be appointed for an indefinite term and may be removed by a majority vote of the council. At least thirty days before the effective date of his or her removal, the city manager must be furnished with a formal statement in the form of a resolution passed by a majority vote of the city council stating the council’s intention to remove him or her and the reasons therefor. Upon passage of the resolution stating the council’s intention to remove the manager, the council by a similar vote may suspend him or her from duty, but his or her pay shall continue until his or her removal becomes effective.

[ 2009 c 549 § 3028; 1967 ex.s. c 119 § 35A.13.130.]

During your September 26th Executive Session, did you pass a valid Resolution? If yes, why are some Council Members appalled by your reasoning? (None of which has been made public) A Council Member penned this letter: http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/2016/10/02/letter-burien-councilmember-shares-thoughts-on-city-managers-firing/ . The 7th comment is from another Council Member.

Firing Mr. Gurol without warning or explanation makes me wonder about your hidden agendas.

“Might is Right” appears to be this Council’s mantra. What kind of City Manager will work for people who talk Glasnost while pulling the Iron Curtain down upon Burien?

I want Burien’s “City Council Meeting Guidelines” modified to promote Community involvement in hiring and firing City Managers.

I heard promises of regular annual City Manager evaluations; yet 3 of you reneged. Past Councils, under different leadership, actually performed and commented and signed their evaluations. This created a lively discussion on City Manager performance: http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/2013/04/09/burien-city-council-evaluation-city-manager-mike-martins-future-on-razors-edge/ .

Today’s Council appears lazy:

  • None of your Evaluations were signed.
  • 3 of 7 Council Members did not even submit Evaluations.

To promote transparency I propose:

  • Give Annual City Manager Evaluations to the local media.
  • Require written observations for below average findings.
  • Provide expectations of the City Manager with a list of annual goals.
  • Affirm Council support of the City Manager to reach these goals.

Information allows Citizens to determine if Council views align with ours.

Your ineffectual behavior is impacting more than the City Manager, it’s a problem affecting all of Burien, including absenteeism.

Many Residents have better Council attendance than some Council Members. Chronic absenteeism raises questions:

  1. Why is this happening?
  2. Who does it serve?

I believe the Mayor’s attitude perpetuates non-attendance and that does not serve Burien.

3 Strikes and You’re Out
Page 15, “City Council Meeting Guidelines”, Section 11 is vague on absenteeism. This Washington State Law could be useful with attendance issues:

RCW 35A.12.060

Vacancy for nonattendance.

In addition a council position shall become vacant if the councilmember fails to attend three consecutive regular meetings of the council without being excused by the council.

[ 1994 c 223 § 33; 1967 ex.s. c 119 § 35A.12.060.]

I want the Council to issue excused absences; not the Mayor. “Phoning it in” normalizes a lack of attention to Burien.

Ignoring State law makes it easy to ignore criminal activities flourishing in Burien: not noticing drugs and crime: how I do anything is how I do everything.

Hanging up the phone on no-shows will be good for Burien: if you don’t show up, you don’t vote. Three consecutive unexcused absences and you’re gone.

City Manager Search
Firing City Manager Gurol raises questions about your judgment. A few possible reasons you fired him are:

  1. He was the wrong person and you hired him anyway.
  2. He was the right person and you weren’t up to the challenge of supporting him.
  3. His firing was politically motivated.

In 2013, many of you were concerned about having a City Manager thrust upon you. This Council Member shared their thoughts: http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/2013/07/30/letter-january-is-not-the-time-to-finalize-a-selection-for-city-manager/

Your concerns shared in 2013 are still valid in 2017.

I want the Council to suspend the City Manager selection until after January 8, 2018.

February 6, 2017 through January 7, 2018
I want you to start keeping your word, this is the first step in becoming proactive. The Interim City Manager and City Staff can guide you with subsequent steps.

Properly written, Code is a powerful tool. The Burien Municipal Code (BMC) is not fully fleshed out, thus hamstringing the City Manager’s options on civil / criminal activities plaguing Burien.

Through October, I will show how the BMC can minimize:

  • Gangs and criminal activities
  • Noisy overflights from Sea Tac.
  • Slum Lords
  • Irresponsible Banks

The Council’s responsibility is to support our City Manager with Ordinances that create a safe and prosperous Burien.

Tweaking the BMC creates tremendous value costing very little. That value can be leveraged to meet your Public Safety obligations: creating a safe and vibrant Burien.

– Dick West

[Have an opinion or concern you’d like to share with our ~80,000+ monthly Readers? Please send us your Letter to the Editor via email. Include your full name, please cite your sources, remain civil and – pending our careful review – we’ll consider publishing it.]

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

4 replies on “LETTER TO THE EDITOR: ‘I want the City Council to communicate cleanly…’”

  1. Very well done….accountability is what matters….and attendance was always something my grade school teacher required…..60 years ago….still applies today, always ..I’m thinkin’

  2. Our past city manager claimed to have 20 signed properly submitted Shared Parking Agreements and in the same breath claimed up to 50 agreements claiming the program was. Dry successful. What was the truth of this small business killing ordinance? After two months of delays of a public record request of copies of all signed Shared Parking agreements it was found that zero existed- ZERO! Yea it starts at the top!

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