By Jack Mayne

Within the next two or three weeks Burien should have a new City Manager, following the City Council’s split vote at Monday night’s special session.

The new City Manager is Brian Wilson, who – until last Nov. 16 – was the Federal Way chief of police, and also had served as Federal Way interim city manager and as chief of staff when the city changed forms of government.

The Burien Council had put off the final decision from a list of five candidates for some weeks with a split of 4 to 3 members trying to reach some conclusion.

For several meetings there has been an item for “potential action regarding next steps in City Manager Search” but that item had always been passed without comment – until Monday night (May 15). But now, the City will begin negotiations with Wilson for an employment contract.

Council also heard concerns from Quiet Skies Coalition organizers over a federal court appeal filed by the city over ways to keep low flying planes from continually and constantly flying over Burien at the orders of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Begin contract process
Councilmember Bob Edgar moved that staff be directed to “begin the city manager contract process with Brian Wilson.”

As noted in an earlier Blog story, Wilson was the chairman of the Corral Springs Water District in the county seat of eastern Washington’s Douglas County, but more prominently a Federal Way official at many levels prior to resigning as chief last November.

Wilson will replace the fired Kamuron Gurol. Retired Des Moines City Manager Tony Piasecki was hired as acting Burien city manager last October.

Edgar’s motion was seconded by Councilmember Stephen Armstrong.

“We have a candidate who tackles the issues that are of concern to the community, currently, economic development, public safety and the homeless,” said Edgar. “At a recent meeting one of the Councilmembers stated that ‘the community wants to see us make progress on things that are of interest to them.’”

Edgar said the recent large turnout of citizens to Council meetings who were concerned about public safety and the homeless has “given us a good idea of what are of interest to the citizens and where the Council needs to take action.”

Federal Way roots
Wilson’s was in Federal Way city officialdom for many years. He was Federal Way police chief for eight years, and the deputy police chief for ten years. He also was Federal Way city manager for one year.

“I believe that Brian Wilson has the best set of skills to meet the concerns facing our community and can begin effectively working on those issues on day one,” said Edgar.

Councilmember Debi Wagner said she was “happy about the fact” that Wilson has a history and understands regional issues, “especially on airport issues we are facing.”

Then Armstrong said Wilson is “very aware of the issues we have facing Burien” and that he is looking forward to Wilson being city manager.

Opposed police background
Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz was not happy because of Wilson’s “limited experience as a city manager but extensive experience as a law enforcement officer.”

She was unhappy about the standing applause at the issuance of a law enforcement week proclamation earlier in the meeting.

With his extensive law enforcement experience in Federal Way, Wilson is not the “message I want to send to the community.” She also worried about a manager who will work with one side of the Council and not the other, referring to the often 4 to 3 split in votes, with Berkowitz, Tosta and Austin Bell one side and the rest of the Council in the majority, led by Mayor Lucy Krakowiak along with Edgar, Wagner and Armstrong.

Berkowitz said Wilson dismissed activism in sanctuary city status, while she said the people of Burien supported sanctuary rules.

“For these reasons, I will be a no vote on this motion and I am disappointed that our Council majority is moving forward with a major decision without finding a consensus….”

Bell said he was “not confident at this time” in Wilson and would abstain from voting, but he added he would work with him if he were approved as city manager.

Councilmember Nancy Tosta said she “has reservations about this candidate” and said, “We have an outstanding city manager. I would be very supportive of him holding down the fort for us, working with us so I do not believe the candidate that has been moved to be our city manager has the depth of city manager experience, so I will also not be voting on this.”

But Mayor Krakowiak said she believed Wilson “is a great candidate that will serve our community well and I will be supporting him.”

Krakowiak, Edgar, Wagner and Armstrong voted yes on Wilson, Tosta and Bell abstained, and Berkowitz voted no.

Anyway, let’s work together
After the selection of Wilson, Edgar moved to “request Council to work together, in spite of our preferences, in order to work positively with the next city manager.”

Wagner seconded the motion and noted the Council has been “divided on many issues” and that that should not be reflected on the city manager selection, noting it is possible to work together if members agreed on goals. Armstrong agreed.

Berkowitz said the motion was out of order because members are saying they want to work together after moving ahead with the nomination and selection of Wilson, which she opposed.

“It is very convenient for this Council who voted for this candidate now saying they want to work together when they didn’t want to work together on finding a candidate who would be a good fit for the Council and the city. At this point, it’s nice for them to say that but it’s not really happening.”

Bell and Tosta said they would do their best to work with the new city manager, but Tosta said asking the objectors of Wilson to work together “was just plain disingenuous.”

Five voted for Edgar’s motion, and Tosta and Berkowitz abstained.

Quiet Skies concerns
Walt Bala (pictured above right, with Larry Cripe) of the Quiet Skies coalition reminded the Council of the city’s petition asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s now officially rescinded policy of turning light jetliners over Burien.

“The Quiet Skies Coalition has concerns about that petition,” said Bala. “That is, some wording issues procedures and specifics are of concern to us. If our petition addresses only procedures – if it is not inclusive we may fail in our mission.”

He said there is “a need for consistent grammar” because a court decision may be made on a specific route but if the FAA changes that route by one degree “it is a new route” that would not be included in a decision on a specific compass heading. For example a 240 degree decision would not affect a change to 241 degrees.

“If that happens, in my mind, we could lose the whole purpose of our mission,” Bala said.

Bala said the FAA has been directing flight paths north or south directly over our shoreline.

“Our concern is that this is an unpublished retaliatory maneuver,” he said, adding that addressing only FAA procedures “omits other traffic management options.”

Bala said individual controllers can, at their individual option at the moment, implement their own techniques that could avoid the specifics of an Appeal Court ruling.

A judge may wonder why there is no concern about southbound flow and only about northbound flow, he said.

“Again, we need a comprehensive solution,” Bala said.

Property taxes go up
Bailey Stober, communications director for the King County assessor’s office (pictured above), told the Council property taxes will go up over 17 percent next year because of newly voter approved increases, especially the Highline School District levy, and an increase approved for Sound Transit to build facilities outside of Burien and in the Des Moines and Federal Way areas.

Average assessed value of Burien homes went up, he said, from the 2015 median assessed value of an average home from $256,000 in 2016 to $289,000 – a 13 percent increase – where the average increase across the county is 8 percent to 9 percent increases.

“Not so good news is that property taxes also went up,” Stober said, but the city’s general fund tax levy amount “is actually down from last year.”

In 2016, the average was $3,340 but in 2017 the average property tax bill will go up to $3,910, “which is up 17.1 percent.”

Stober said Assessor John Wilson is “increasingly concerned about property taxes and affordability and what that is doing to low-income seniors trying to stay in their homes.”

He gave the Council a spreadsheet showing the taxes and what they pay for.

Stober added that about 50 percent of all taxes go to schools, but often it is more than 50 percent because of voter-approved special levies.

There are some levies there were passed county-wide, he said, including one for fingerprint identification, parks and open space levy, human service and veteran levies which is on this year’s ballot for potential renewal, children and family justice levy, “best start for kids” which was recently approved and the radio communications network which first responder use in emergencies, a countywide transportation levy and several voter approved bond issues, and other “regional” issues.

Stober said, among others, Burien taxpayers also help pay the county ferry district for a passenger-only ferry from West Seattle to the Seattle waterfront at Colman Dock.

“The increase that drove up the property tax increase in Burien is the county ferry district had a very slight increase, Sound Transit 3 is at 25 cents per $1,000 … the (school) bonds at 69 cents per $1,000 (of assessed value), the Fire District 2 general fund levy increase….”

Finishing 509
Craig Stone of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) briefed the Council on the 509 Gateway Project, which is supposed to connect SR 509 from the west side of Sea-Tac Airport to Interstate 5.

The 2015 Legislature bundled both the extension of State Route 167 from Auburn to Tacoma and the connection of 509 to I-5 into a $1.9 billion combined project, along with $180 million from proposed highway tolls.

The rest will come from contributions from Burien, SeaTac, Des Moines and all the other cities, including Kent and Auburn.

Stone said the current Legislature has approved an amount for the project with both highway completions, but WSDOT must come up with $130 million split between Pierce County, the Port and all the entities involved, including Burien. That so-called “memorandum of understanding” must be done by July 1, 2018 so that cost to the city must be negotiated in the meantime.

The Council also proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and May 15-21 as National Police Week, and Police Chief Scott Kimerer accepted the proclamation.

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

27 replies on “Split City Council vote selects former Federal Way Police Chief as City Manager”

  1. I have told you all time and time again Bezerkoitz hates Cops, if that still isn’t clear your not paying attention.

    1. I don’t know if it’s actually a hatred for cops. As much as it’s a hatred of the few bad apples. That the media pounce on making all cops sound bad.

      Kinda like how some think all homeless are criminals and drug addicts. Just because a few might be.

      1. Actually she has quite the history being extremely vocal about her dislike of “all” Police. If you recall she has had postings on FB where she used unfit language for a new mother as you constantly give her credit for, or any mother for that matter slandering LEO’s. Just her problem with the Council motion recognizing “them” is enough to validate my point.

        1. Oh yeah the one Facebook post about 2 years ago. Where she was at a protest and seen officers reacting in a negative way. Towards a group of peaceful protesters. This comment that was made before she was even pregnant.

          That’s the comment your talking about. That’s what your basing her total hatred for police on. Ok whatever dude.

          Or is it because she likes to find others ways of helping people in need other than a pair of hand cuffs and a 8×10 cell.

  2. The heading to this story should be up-dated to include ‘Significant Property Tax Increase Coming Next Year.’

  3. As any of you who read this blog know, I believe owners of property directly in the runway flight paths can blame the Port for our stagnant sales potentials. For King Co. not to take into consideration the effect of it’s Port of King Co. Airport on the surrounding property value is ridiculous. I have been waiting for over 2 months to have someone from King Co. come out to reassess our property value. They keep telling me that ‘new construction’ has priority on their list. So it goes.

    1. Interesting since after the housing market crash the values seem to be going up. If you look at the king county GIS parcel viewer. Then look at parcels in or around the flight path. Some are back to what where at before the crash.

      But then again clean it up you can blame the port all you want. But the airport was built in 1944 and most of the home’s in the area. Where that lovely paved trail that is accessable to people that are physically disabled. Are mostly built in the 50’s. If you think about it people buy house’s by airport because there a little cheaper.

      And oh my God it going take two months to get your house appraised. It’s the end of the world everyone run for your lives. King county offices are running behind oh no what will we ever do. I know let’s hire more staff so they can run efficiently oh wait that would take more taxes ahh dammit. Oh wait let’s just complain on a blog instead it’s free. Oh wait no it’s not you got pay for the internet unless you use the library. Oh wait you can’t there’s too many kids talking loud and getting in the way. Oh wait no it’s not the kids it’s the drug dealing homeless that are the problem. Oh wait no never mind it’s not them it’s the gangsters that are the problem. Oh wait nope wrong again it’s that one member on the city council that just had to give birth. Oh wait dammit it’s not that it’s the dam airplane’s that’s the problem there we go.

      1. Gee Capt. O. You don’t need to get your hair on fire. You ‘obviously’ think I’m all wrong. That’s okay. I’m quite used to the fact that most people do not appreciate the things that I do. I’ll be bopping off the twig soon enough and it won’t matter to me anymore, either.

        1. Ok see the problem is your blaming the port for issue’s you or who of in charge purchasing your home back in day. Should of thought hey there is a airport there do we really want to live that close to a airport.

          Now here is decades latter you blame the port for expanding. You blame the port for buying homes up to save people headaches. Then the port offers sound proofing and window installation​. That’s got be a problem too.

          You complain because​ the city made a trail paved so people could actually use it. Like the disabled or people on bikes.

          Now your saying that you won’t be a live for much longer so it doesn’t matter.
          Ok go live your pathetic complain about everything life. See you seem tobe having a issue in seeing the good things in life. Now started to complain as if everything is wrong or bad. Ahh depression so much fun isn’t go get some help

          1. Capt. O Ever consider the fact that what I am saying might be true? When my parents bought our land the airport was a dirt runway off old Highway 99 with coyotes running around it to get to Angle Lake. Where we went for swimming lessons when there were only a few ‘holiday cabins’ around it. We not only could not foresee the future of aviation, let alone airport expansion, neither could those who located Glacier High School, Sunset Jr. High, or Sunny Terrace Elementary, all of which I attended and were built in my life time. The County allowed many homes and housing divisions and multi residential units to be built as well, we were a booming community with lots of Boeing employees and growth happening near and far. This was years before “….will the last person leaving please turn out the light’. It was before the numerous expansions which have left a scarred landscape of dereliction. In our particular neighborhood no ‘city improvements have been made for decades, even though we all pay taxes and send our kids to schools outside our neighborhoods and shop local. We are ignored because of the threat of expansion, which these days comes in the form of ‘light industrial parks’ and such related airport facilities plopped in the middle of long time family residential areas IE neighborhoods. Many of my neighbors have lived through all of this history. They invested in their property as most families do only to watch the Port deal them a rotten game of bait and switch on what the Port will and won’t do. You may think this is old history but it is real everyday life for those of us who cannot get road improvements or any other services due to us who have been paying into Burien coffers the longest.

            BTW – You completely misunderstood my disenchantment with the nature walk placement. It is not the paved path that bothers me. It is the close-up view of the acres of airport reserve parking which has taken over the once very beautiful del and creek I played in as a child. It truly was beautiful in an abandoned homestead sort of way. It’s hard to say which season was my favorite. In the spring one watched to see signs of renewed life with returning birds and greenery like trilliums and hundreds of daffodils gone wild from a massive planting of early farmers of the area. I was always drawn to converting small water flows to save this thing or that and in the mean time learning about water’s natural power. Perhaps winter left the strongest memories. Looking for animal tracks and figuring out what animal had left them and looking for them in the complete silence of the snow covered landscape.
            You read my statements and presume them to be out of some depressed state or living in the passed. That is not the case. As an example, today I am rebuilding a lucrative website that I built 17 years ago to up-grade it. I am still as interested in ‘everything’ as I ever was. I am just telling my recollection of what has gone on and how it is effecting many things in today’s world. Things like property value, increased crime and Burien’s priorities.

            Thanks J. for giving me a chance to rattle on. You are appreciated!

          2. Ok please explain how does the airport lead to more crime in burien. Nationality property values around airports has all ways been lower.

            You blame the port for land that has been determined business appropriate by the city’s of Burien and Sea-tac also king county when the area was unincorporated.

            You seem tobe playing the blame game on topics that are not even what the original reason for the lawsuit with FAA was about.

            Now you started bringing up a website your working on that’s great don’t really care. You now started talking about the school’s again. Yeah that’s unfortunate the school’s you went to are torn down. That kids had to go to other schools that are just a few blocks away. It’s unfortunate that humans make mistakes in life. Like buying land near any airport and not expecting​ change. Or doctors telling​ people yeah go home and light up a old lucky​ strike cigarette. To this day people make mistakes like this new City manager retirement issue could it be a mistake by someone at a state office misspeaking on a topic or is he just that evil.

          3. It’s okay J, if you don’t get it after all of my posts, you are never going to get it. So it goes.

          4. No I do understand your a older person that wants to complain about things that have happened in life. That unfortunately won’t or can’t be changed. So you decided to complain on a blog. Instead of hiring a lawyer to look in to any legal options you may have. Or any other ways of actually getting help. So thanks for unneeded history lesson and other nonsense. Have a great day!

  4. I think the wording is wrong. The tax increases went into effect this year for Highline Schools, Sound Transit, etc

    1. As I understand it, the story says that our property taxes went up an average of approx. 13% this current tax year that we are paying this year. And will go up another approx.. 17% in next year’s tax period. That’s approx.. a 30% increase in just 2 years. Phew! Let me know if you understand it differently.

  5. CONGRATULATIONS! You just granted the wish the Mr. Wilson has had for 3 years: to double dip by pulling a full police pension the state retirement system and get paid full salary as a civilian. His little scheme was blown up in Federal Way, and he lost all appeals to the state. Check the Federal Way Mirror. He has no interest in public service, just in bilking the system.

    If you are interested in unethical land use and development dealings, a politicized police force, and straight up obfuscation, you made a great choice. Rest assured, your polarized council will remain that way under his form of management.

    1. Agree. Another poor decision from this inept council. Did they even background check him? Apparently not.

      1. Well people kept complaining about the city council taking to long to pick someone. Then when some on the city council voted against Mr. Willson. Some complained on this blog that they must be liberal snow flakes that hate police or any form of law enforcement. That’s why they voted against him.

        But now we find out oh wait their is other issues with this person.

    1. Robt Miller, thank you for the two news article posts. Read then both. It is a very uneasy feeling about the character of our new City manager. “What is in it for me?” seems to be Mr Wilson’s guiding principle.

      Some may say give him a chance, but I say at what and at what cost? Four days to retirement then rehired at $147,000 yr? Four days? Who is kidding who? What was the formal interview process for the entire hiring process and how many other candidates were interviewed? If not why not?


    2. Thanks Mr. Miller for these links and bringing our attention to Mr. Wilson’s recent history of questionable stuff!?!? I encourage everyone to take the time to read about our new Manager’s history. EEK! Leave it to our council to select this candidate. I predict his stay short lived as he comes prepackaged with a reason for dismissal. He’s all set-up to be just another fall-guy for our motley crew.
      BTW – I have no problem with having a law enforcement back ground. I’m all for that in most cases. But, there are those who will use such to their own advantage, as may be the case with our new manager.

      1. Haha. Good luck with WIlson. We had the pleasure of him in Federal Way, and we are still trying to not only clean up his backhanded deals to the detriment to our city but also the bad feelings he created between us and the city government. I don’t know why your council would choose someone with such recent ethics issues between city and private businesses, not to mention his retirement scheme.

  6. Like many I was unaware of his issues until now. LEOFF2 exemptions or not, which seem overly generous, Wilson certainly did not leave public employment entirely if he was given his prior sick and vacation time for his new position.

    This is one of the worst examples of double dipping I have heard of. He actually picked up where he left off, and then some. It’s as bad as it was at UW until it was reformed.
    You are either retired or not from public service. If you want to persue other careers or consulting work outside of public service that’s fine. But with his tainted history of fraud and deceptive practice allegations, one can only conclude he would not be a trustworthy City Manager. He does not need this job–he will have a comfortable retirement without it.

    Why was this not brought up/out before? Who was vetting him? Did the ones who voted for him know about this, and voted for him anyway? The last think Burien needs is a City Manager tainted by corruption. The city council needs to recind it’s decsion immediately and extend an offer to Matthew Fulton if he had a proper vetting…

  7. Got it J. “Go away you ‘complaining’ old person, full of ‘nonsense.’ You have no right to post anything on this blog that J. doesn’t agree with.”

    1. No that’s not what I am saying at all. See here is your signs of depression. Your blaming the port for issue’s from your past. You think the port the reason you don’t have sidewalks and some other utilities. When the city of Burien manages that not the port.

      Ok schools closed down from the airport expanding about 30 to 40 years ago. Nothing is going to change that now.

      Two car lots that bring in tax revenue and employment opportunities on property that has been deemed by city as business acceptable. Unfortunately you have a very slim chance those are going away.

      Getting so frustrated over some posts on a blog. I have a good feeling you have spent to much time inside. You need more fresh air.

      Programing a website can be nerve-wracking at times.

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