by Jack Mayne A door that has been locked every night at 9 p.m. since 2009 caused two Burien City Council members to walk out of Monday night’s (April 20) meeting because citizens might not have easy access to the City Hall chambers. It is part of a deal with the partners that own the building, and an agreement with the King County Library system says the outside doors from the main floor lobby are locked every night when the library closes, said City Manager Kamuron Gurol after a mid-evening recess. Signs tell late comers to call a telephone number “or knock.” “We put up signs on either door so that if a member of the public wants to come into the meeting, we open a door here so we hear a knock or take a telephone call from someone who wanted to enter the meeting so they have access to this meeting,” he said. “We will make sure than anyone who wants to come in has the ability to come in to participate.” LaurenBerkowitz042015Berkowitz said she was under the impression that the signs were removed and the doors unlocked. “Is that incorrect?” she asked. “Are the doors still locked?” “The doors are still locked,” Gurol said. “At this time I feel that it is an unlawful restriction on access to the meeting,” she said. “It requires someone to have cellphones. There is no way I can hear a knock, I don’t believe that hearing a knock is something that can be relied on,” Berkowitz said. “It also could cost money to have minutes to use on their cell phones, if they have cellphones.” Here’s a Tweet sent out by Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz at 9:36 p.m.:

Berkowitz says she’ll go “At this point, unless the doors are unlocked, I will personally leave this meeting because I feel it is in violation of the open public meeting act. Each one of us is personally liable …” Berkowitz said. Councilmember Gerald Robison said he had the same questions as Berkowitz. “Does this mean the doors are locked now? And they are automatically locked at 9 o’clock every time we show up here?” he asked. Gurol said that it has been that way as a “matter of course” for the year he has been city manager. He said the signs were put up to be sure that people who might want to attend the meeting, who come in late, “can, in fact, get into the meeting.” “We do have people that are near the doorways that can listen to that and make sure that anyone who wants to gain entrance to the building can come into the building. The doors are locked because they automatically lock and because we don’t have anybody out in the lobby to monitor that lobby area.” That is not a problem during normal library hours because library staff people are watching the lobby and the lavatories, he said. “Let people come in to attend the meeting, but the rest of the building isn’t open after 9 o’clock,” Gurol said. Heard for first time Robison said he does not have concerns about the open meeting act with the actions that have been taken, but wanted to get the opinion of the interim city attorney. “But I am very concerned that this is the first time I’ve heard this,” Robison said. “One of the concerns is that somebody steps out for a cigarette or just to talk without being overheard by everybody else on their phone and then they can’t get back into the building. “It just seems this is quite a restriction on the real estate – it just bugs me that this is the first we learn about it as a Council and it feeds into my continuing distrust of the library and the way they handle things – why are we subject to the library’s decision that they are going to shut the doors at 9 o’clock when they close?” Gurol it is has been part of the protocol since he has been in Burien and long before that. “I am sorry that some Council member, maybe all the Council members were not aware of it,” the city manager said, adding that they are taking care to allow people to step out and return to the meeting. Berkowitz cited the state public meetings act about attendance. “A member of the public shall not be required, as a condition to attendance at a meeting of a governing body, to register his or her name and other information, to complete a questionnaire, or otherwise to fulfill any condition precedent to his or her attendance,” says the state law. Leaves no room “That does not leave any room for you to say whether or not a condition is reasonable. Under that, I will be leaving this meeting unless the doors are unlocked immediately. I did not have any knowledge that this was happening, I had no knowledge that this was happening before tonight; I believe this is a violation of the open public meeting act.” Berkowitz said she went into the lobby to use the restroom after 9 p.m. and saw someone knocking for entry and she let them in, adding that if she had not been in the lobby area, no one would have been available to let the person in. She moved to adjourn the meeting even though Gurol thought the locked doors were not a condition of attendance and therefore a violation of law. Robison seconded the motion but the Council voted 4 to 3 not to adjourn. Voting to adjourn were Councilmembers Berkowitz, Robison and Bob Edgar, and to stay in session were Mayor Krakowiak, Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta, and Councilmembers Steve Armstrong and Debi Wagner. Berkowitz said it was her duty to leave the meeting and she left the chambers.
City Attorney Robert F. Noe.
Attorney wants time Robison asked Interim City Attorney Robert F. Noe if the note on the door and someone listening for a knock was “sufficient to comply with the open public meetings act.” Noe said there needed to be some time to look at the problem. “I think, in general, that the open public meeting act would require that the meeting be open and accessible as a general matter, but there are exceptions for purposes of safety … I think we need to look into it more.” Robison said, “based on that lack of clear guidance, I feel I am going to have to join the other Councilmember in leaving the meeting at this point.” Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta repeated an earlier suggestion to prop the door open so the meeting was accessible, prompting Robison to ask if that would violate the agreement with the library. “It’s possible,” he said, adding it would violate his personal agreement to lock the doors. Councilmember Steve Armstrong said the Council gets “bogged down in some of this stuff and we don’t seem to move forward…” Library bond issue This all came about through a partnership between the King County Library System and the City of Burien. Ralph Nichols wrote in The B-Town Blog in 2009:
“The new Burien Library occupies the lower two floors and the new city hall is located on the third floor. The $18 million library was funded as part of the $172 million library capital bond approved by voters in 2004 to finance major improvement projects at all KCLS libraries. The new library includes more books, music, movies, magazines, computers, space for children and teens, and community meeting space. “On the top floor the City has its offices, work areas, conference rooms and a large public lobby. A large meeting room on the first floor will be used by both the library and the City for large meetings and will serve as the City Council Chambers.”

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

59 replies on “Locked door causes 2 Councilmembers to leave meeting Monday night”

  1. …..sigh…..Nothing is ever going to get done with the current city council issues. I cannot believe what is going on here in my Burien. There are council members that are acting like spoiled children who didn’t get ice cream. Those doors have been locked for years, and now time is wasted in bringing this up. So disgusted with the whole thing.

  2. Don’t know what happened before 2009, but the doors were locked at 9 PM when I started my second term. Of course, the meetings usually got done by or shortly after 9 because councilmembers weren’t wasting time on pointless minutiae or endless public grandstanding. Fine attention to detail suddenly noticing this years on on the part of Berkowitz and Robison. Instead of histrionics maybe the proper approach would have been calling attention to the problem during the CM report and suggesting a solution, such as installing an “after hours” buzzer. Nah, addressing and solving problems doesn’t allow one to pose as a “martyr”.

    1. Jack seems to think that Burien voters have a short memory on his antics and flip-flops during his terms in office, and wasn’t he running for City Council in 2009? How could he be running for office and not know what was going on?
      oops, facts.

  3. She acts just like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka. “Daddy, I don’t want just any squirrel, I want THAT squirrel ! Just substitute “My Minions, I don’t want just any attention, I want ALL the attention ! Must have been a single child who got way to much blanket time and extra snuggles because it sure shows now.
    P.S. Hey Jack, where can I contribute to your reelection campaign to oust that mess.

  4. CM Berko needs to recuse herself. What a disgrace to Burien as well as completely disrespectful to the CM who actually want to get something done. Shame on her!!!!! This is seriously unbelievable. Her father must be so proud. NOT.

  5. The open meetings act is pretty clear. Do the other five members of the council think we should ignore the act just because we have already been doing so?

    1. The only reason the meetings run so long and a door gets locked is because your favorite CM drags the river for corpse’s and beats a dead horse.

    2. Somebody else said it here – a remote doorbell which is a cheap fix. Anyone can have access then. If the issue still persists than this isn’t about about access this is about something else.

        1. Isn’t Democracy great ! That why you and your ilk get voted down because you are on the unpopular side of things and your views and opinions go against common sense. Do you honestly think that Lauren B. is the Saint and Savior of Burien with her radical and unjustified childish tantrums? Just keep spouting your mantra and the rest of us will continue to see right past it and the left wing nut brainwashing you represent.

          1. Removing from public view the comments you dislike has little to do with democracy. In fact, i suspect it is the opposite as it is tantamount to denying speech to the opposing point of view.

  6. What time do the meetings start? 7:00 p.m.? 7:30 p.m.? If people are wanting to attend the meeting at 9:00, that is 1 1/2 to 2 hours after the meeting starts. The doors are open for them to attend for the majority of the meeting. I don’t see that anyone is being denied reasonable access with the building doors being locked for security.

  7. Walked out? Seriously? Well, they can just keep on walking. It was barely more than a year ago when voters declared they would not tolerate council members’ hissy fits. I’m ready to repeat this message at their next election.

    1. I am sure there must be some way that certain CMs could be removed before their term has expired??? Why should we have to wait?

  8. I hate to say it but they may right, however walking out was probably not a good response. In SeaTac we had a similar issue years ago and obtained an opinion from the Attorney General and the doors had to remain unlocked during Public Meetings. The elevators also had to be functioning without a card key if the meeting was on the 3rd floor. Perhaps starting the meeting at 6:00 PM?
    This issue seems to come up a lot so really nothing unusual.

  9. They are bitching about the doors being locked at 9:00 p.m.? And then just leave over such a trivial issue? Wow
    Of all the things going on they are wasting time on this?
    And then to walk out over it?..It would be funny if weren`t so sad.
    Maybe we need some more mature adults on the council and not these spoiled brats that play the, Well, if I can`t have it my way, I`m just going to take my ball and go
    They should be half-way grateful someone looks lout for their safety.
    I wonder who holds their hands when they cross a street or a parking lot?
    Maybe the meeting would be over a little earlier if they weren`t wasting time on issues like this

  10. She has pretty much alligned herself with a certain Seattle CM (KS), what she doesn’t realize is she’s in the wrong city to be pulling these kind of antics. Seattle is waiting 🙂

  11. I’m sorry, but I feel dumber after reading this (no offsense, Scott, I know you’re just the messenger here…)
    Seriously though; if there is a problem and people have a concern, then do something to fix it. Plain and simple.
    A suggestion of a door buzzer sounds like a good compromise to me. Or if there is concern that people can’t figure that out (which would be really pathetic, but that’s beside the point) perhaps the door locking system (which sounds like it’s automated / controlled by computer) can be adjusted on council nights to stay unlocked a bit later. Either way, put in a request to make that happen. That’s it. Move on.
    This whole lets throw up our hands and start citing laws for something that can easily be fixed seems childish in my opinion. And not 10-12 year old childish, I’m thinking more like 2-3 year old temper tantrum childish.
    The fact of the matter is, City Council members should be focusing their attention on SOLVING city problems and striving to streamline processes (shocking), NOT on making problems or throwing up roadblocks whenever possible. Launching into soap-opera style rants / theatrics is a waste of the people’s time. This is a COUNCIL MEETING not some sort of high school acting / drama convention.
    I’m sure the folks who put up this stink will dismiss my comments outright and think that I’m simply some jerk who doesn’t care about people’s access to council meetings. Quite the opposite – I *do* care, which is why I think it’s better to spend energy on SOLVING the problem rather than GRANDSTANDING and making a scene. Does it really show how much you care by WALKING OUT? Does that solve ANYTHING?
    Seriously, GROW UP and act like adults or perhaps I’ll feel compelled to bring some pacifiers to the next council meeting to hand out to those who can’t seem to calm down and get the city business done.

  12. I think it is interesting that certain CMs have expressed that clear violations of the law and constitution are “bogging down” other more important matters….like council meeting guidelines. CM Berkowitz does not need to grow up. The rest of the Burien City Council needs to evolve.

    1. True, this IS a violation of the law that city councils and others cannot place ANY kind of restrictions on access to public meetings… we get it. It seems that this was innocent and inadvertent on the part of the council though, and very easy to remedy for all future meetings. Can’t they just fix it for the next meeting and call it a day?

  13. My first point would be… It’s been this way since 2009, and someone JUST noticed it this week? Wow.
    My second point is… This does not need to be a drama-inducing thing. Just post a volunteer in the lobby during meetings. DONE! Heck, I’ll do it. Then next session, build into the budget hiring a person to be in the lobby to let people in during meetings. Ta DA! No drama.

  14. Some people like to keep the pot boiling.
    Didn’t someone once say bad publicity is just as good as good publicity?
    Nice (for future campaigns) to be able to show you are upholding all the laws. Especially, if you consider every one else to be dumber than you.
    As Charlie Brown would say to Lucy “ARRGH”.

  15. The issue is, as I understand it, that meetings have to be open to all during the meeting- unless they are in executive session. Period.

    1. It is open to all and has been, just get out of bed a little earlier and be on time. With the influx of homeless living in the Complex if given a way in, a locked door at a absolutely reasonable time in the evening is a matter of public safety. If a door monitor such as the “Police” or electronic system is installed – whatever happens do not ever let in a someone wearing a black puffy vest over flannel shirt because absolute dysfunction will commence.

    2. I don’t think anyone is really disagreeing with that point, Rob.
      I think what people are saying is that if the door needs to be unlocked, then just do what needs to be done to unlock it. Doesn’t that make sense? How much time does that take to say:
      “Yeah, that should be fixed. I’ll send an E-Mail to so-and-so and ask them to look into it before the next meeting. So, next item on the agenda?”
      I think what is annoying people is that instead of just taking a note and making sure it gets fixed, we see a sitting council member launch into some theatrical “I’m going to take my toys and leave the sandbox” moment where they feel the need to rant on about what, from the surface, appears to just be an honest oversight. Does anyone think there is some conspirosy afoot here, to prevent citizens from hearing what’s going on in chambers?
      What did this really accomplish? It seems to me that, instead, nothing ended up getting done – not fixing the door issue nor other important business of the city council.
      The fact of the matter is there will always be business that needs to be done and there will always be priorities in which things should get done.
      The preference by individual council members regarding the order in which things get done may be something people can disagree over, and that’s fair – but can anyone really make a case for why this particular issue needed to lead a council member to pack up and walk out, as has been reported? How many other items were impacted by this desire to “make a stand” on something no one seemed to really be arguing about?
      What kind of a twilight zone is this where we can’t simply recognize a problem, devise a quick plan, and MOVE ON with life (and City business)?

  16. The law is plain and clear. I tried to access the meeting Monday night and was unable to. Here is my proof – Thinking of following Linda Plein’s example…..
    I am shocked at all those who support ordinance 621/606 and their “Law and order” attitudes while at the same time making excuses on a clear law. The 5 council members who stayed are as guilty of violating this law as anyone violating ordinance 606/621 by bathing at the library (which I feel is unconstitutional).

    1. The only reason you showed up when you did was because you monitor the L.B twitter feed or received a bat signal from the upholders of all things Democratic and unfair to the poor and homeless masses. Give us all a break from your “Oh The Injustice” mouthpiece and simply admit you were just as unaware of the locked door scenario all these years as well. It never was noticed or a matter before because the CM you idolize runs her pie hole longer than any meeting should ever take. Come down off your high horse, it’s bad for it’s back.

    2. So, Joey, sincere question, if there was a doorbell for you, would that satisfy you (assuming it was then answered). If not, why not?

      1. Joey Martinez talks issues and uses real facts. Question Authority uses a phoney name to concentrate on personal attacks.
        Guess who the B-town blog mob will vote out.

        1. Joey posts links to internet sites and you tube videos and you think those are facts? Lee, be your own man not a puppet. You were put here to be more. Joey does not think for himself either, he can be replaced by an internet connection and that he proves daily on this blog.

          1. At least he offers evidence for the issues. That is something to discuss or disagree with. That is what as forum like this is supposed to be for.
            I have not seen him respond in kind to the personal attacks that are used against him. I admire him for that and the fact that he has the backbone to use his real name and stand up for what he believes. Rare and unpopular characteristics on this blog.

          2. Set your Joey pom,-poms down Lee. Who is attacking him personally? All I am saying is to you is every time Joey speaks, Lee follows with a hoo-rah Joey. Joey is Joey, Lee is Joey?

          3. Sorry Black Chaz, was replacing my internet connection. If Lee is my cheer leader, are you my anti-cheerleader?

  17. OMG!! Just call the stupid number and they will let you in. Who shows up at a council meeting at 9/PM anyway?

    1. People that want to wine and complain about nonsense. Like the fact that Washington state has had a trespassing law for years. Where if and when someone is causing a problem at a business or on private property the owner or who ever is in charge of the property can call the police and have the person remove and trespassed for I believe a it’s a year. I don’t see why the library could not make a call to the police or have a officer on location. Also if people would stop handing out cash to the homeless instead give them direction to a shelter/foodbank or mental health care center. Instead buying their high for the night not so many of them would be calling burien home if it was not known as a city of cash hand outs.

      1. Perhaps citizens can get behind electing a candidate in the next cycle that supports a serious look at an anti-panhandling law for Burien.

  18. Seems like some completely SEPARATE and UNRELATED issues are being conflated. Look, I will personally show up on time to the next Burien City Council meeting and will sit in the lobby and let latecomers in. No one has to knock, no one has to call, no one has to tell me their name, and hey, you can even just go use the bathroom for all I care. I can even bring a welcome mat.

    1. Thank you for offering Catherine, but seriously, people value their time and only go one direction after 9, OUT!

  19. This comment from Joey Martinez is again off base as he tries to drag others in as an excuse for his behaviors. ” Here is my proof – Thinking of following Linda Plein’s example…”-Martinez. L. Plein never made a video on youtu. She didn’t try to set up a purposeful video for entrapment at 9:57pm at the end of a Council meeting. She appears to have been open and honest in her several letters to the council about what appeared to be a problem with the Facebook/Twitter site of Lauren Berkowitz and her activities during Council meetings.
    Only after several attempts to get some change over several months time, does it appear that she contacted the PDC and the AGs office. It appears from her letters to the Council and this blog l that the Berkowitz’s Facebook/Twitter pages were out of compliance with the PDC. .An already elected official can’t keep pretending that she is running for office and can’t keep asking for donations when she is not registered for an actual election.
    L.Plein asked that the Council make some rules about these electronic devises during Council meetings. L.Plein didn’t protest at a single meeting, then storm out of that meeting and the set up an entrapment video making event during the same meeting against Lauren Berkowitz. It is wrong to bring L. Plein into this blog comment and to suggest that the two situations are alike. From what I saw on my TV, it appeared that the remaining Council members asked the opinion of the City Attorney of how they should proceed on. This was not an open defiant, premeditated violation of the law by
    the remaining Council members. Again it appears all of this fuss by Berkowitz and Martinez is not about good and open govt. in Burien. It appears to be much more the kind of nonsense that the citizens saw used against Jack Block in 2013 to try to make him out to be an evil and dishonest man during that election.Remember Joey Martinez is again going to run for election.
    The best solution is to end the Council meetings at 9pm.

  20. This is so funny. Lauren will never be happy with anything unless everything is going 100% her way. Seriously the worst team player I have ever witnessed. Grow up Lauren and learn to work with your colleagues instead of lashing out and acting like a spoiled brat.

  21. The obvious solution to the problem of the doors being locked at 9pm is to end the council meetings at 9pm. However, this will not stop the constant fighting brought forward by a couple of council members because their goal is not to work together but rather to talk constantly and to do grandstand displays to gain power and attention. At least one council member is tightly aligned with the Socialist Alternative Party. This party’s postion is that every elected socialist has the obligation to constantly challenge and disrupt the body he/she is elected to, to constantly educate on the merits of socialism and to destroy capitalism. The party’s goal is to ultimately overthrow the system. In this case, it appears to be the plan to destroy the reputation and economic progress of Burien, also. Be careful who you donate to, support and endorse in this next upcoming election. Read their credentials, affiliations, past affiliations, volunteer and work experience, who works for them and who supports their campaign. It means the difference between a functioning and productive council or a dysfunctional council that paralyzes the city’s progress forward.
    P.S. Both Robison and Moyer served on a Council appointed committee that violated the open public meetings act constantly for over a year. So now the two of them are concerned about the rules?

    1. Buck,
      You are right about those meetings being closed. The city council was unable to move on the very controversial Shoreline Master Plan. They appointed representatives of the interested parties to a small unofficial working group to try to come up with a compromise the group could live with for the council to consider.
      I remember talking about the open meetings act and I think Robison was the one who brought it up at the first meeting. Since we had no authority to actually do anything, we were told it was OK just as it was O K for the other organizations who presented suggestions to the City Council to consider and accept or reject.
      After a lot of meetings we came up with a much modified SMP we could agree on and it was later approved by the City Council and the DOE. It was a big advantage to schedule meetings strickly on when all five could make it and to meet with no outside influence on what we were doing. I think that in this case the council’s idea worked.

    2. Buck,
      “Socialist Alternative Party”? I’m confused now. Communists didn’t allow panhandlers; they were sent to work camps.

  22. What is abundantly clear here is that we have two council members who are not interested in working for a better Burien and flat out refuse to work as a team to get things done. This is grandstanding pure and simple. And over something ridiculous. The meetings are not blocked, as is clear by the knock or call sign. With the criminals that are hovering and blocking our right to use the very public space that the meeting hall is in, I don’t blame them for locking the doors. Safety for all should be a priority. Maybe if LB would quit using Burien as her personal soapbox and GR would act in the best interests for Burien, we could actually move forward as a city and not waste time, money and energy over trivial issues.

  23. No, Mr. Moyer, that group was not a small unofficial working group. The members were voted on and appointed by the Council by an official vote of the Council, I saw it on TV. This group rewrote major sections of a city Master Plan at a private home, at secret meeting times and refused to allow any public oversight on work on a City Master Plan. This is not how open and transparent govt. operates. Someone should have checked with the AGs office and not just
    Robison who was a part of the appointed committee. It appears this group violated the OPMA multilpe times over a 1 year+ time period.

    1. By unofficial I meant we had no authority to make any decisions. A final draft was presented to the public, openly discussed and decided upon by the City Council.
      You are right. It was a major rework and if we had tried to work out all those details with the same people repeating the same arguments at every meeting we’d still be deadlocked.
      Most organizations use committees to work out details of issues and reserve the actual decision making. It is a good system and worked well in this case.

  24. Follow the law. We elect individuals to uphold the law, not to choose which ones they personally agree with and choose to uphold. The drama isn’t that elected officials choose to leave when the city council is not following OPMA- the drama is with the other five officials and anyone else who believes that following the law is trivial. This is exactly what is wrong with what is happening in our local, state and national government. Individuals who are elected seem to think that they can choose their favorite rules – and then disregard rules that aren’t convenient or don’t serve their personal or political agenda. I can’t believe anyone in 2015 really thinks that a locked door with a phone number or doorbell states – “Come in- Participate in discussions regarding our city.” The more anyone or any organization has to say they are transparent – they absolutely are NOT open and transparent. They don’t want public participation, they want to continue their privilege, superiority and control over others. If that is challenged, they become angry and make accusations and personal insults. If there is a safety risk, hire security staff to open the door for anyone who wants to come to the city council meeting late. Please remember that we now live in a 24-7 world. Many adults work a variety of hours. Many of your Burien resident work more than one job. Coming late to an open public meeting means one is lazy? Instead of judging why one would come late to a public meeting, how about welcoming them into the discussion? How about asking for their input?
    Unless and until that happens, do not wonder why voter participation is so low and apathy is so very high. This is the reason why voters do not have faith in their elected officials. Thank you CM Berkowitz and CM Robison for choosing to follow the law.

  25. Mr. Martinez was NOT locked out of the City Council meeting. Someone opened the doors and let him in. He edited that part out of his video, so the story is told.

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