June 3, 2013

INTENT: To make a case for a new City Manager

When Cities are in decline, despair and apathy frequently set in. Despair is perhaps the most contagious ailment known to man. Today, thousands of such Cities dot the National landscape. Every year they continue to ratchet down in value. Opportunities are lost and gloom is pervasive everywhere. Each of them are contributing to the bleak stream of statistics we see everyday in the news.

It easy to become fixated and depressed by the failures occurring in your neighborhood. Its unlikely that your issues are occurring in a vacuum. Most likely, other regions of the City are experiencing different, yet important problems. Knowing (reconnaissance) what these issues are will give you the opportunity to become an inclusive speaker.

Inclusiveness allows the message to engage different regions, socioeconomic classes or any other concern that is not being attended too. Stitching together a coalition of areas that are impacted by inattention of the City Manager is a powerful way to engage City Hall for change.


Time for Change

I will be quoting law tonight to make a case for recruiting a new City Manager. The State laws that govern Cities are there for a reason. They cement the contractual arrangement (Municipal Code) between the government and the residents.

There is a reasonable expectation that the City will fulfill its obligation to make the City a desirable place to live; it is collecting property taxes for that purpose. As I explored Code, I was struck by the lack of political will to engage the problems occurring in the City. I have a tab on CODE and how to read and understand it.

I will be sharing the top five concerns I see happening in the different regions of Burien. I will be proposing solution that involve the four departments that report to the City Manager: Legal / Code, Planning, Finance, and Public Works.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of information I discovered was how little the pay difference was between a top performing City Manager and the rest. The decline I showed earlier, shows what happens when less than a top tier person is at the helm. The difference in pay is just 2K per month. We are currently losing 750K per day in net worth because of the inattention.

It is now time to ask for a new City Manager.



Washington State Law requires the City Manager to:

  • Faithfully execute all laws and ordinances. These laws were put in place by the Council to make Burien a safe and desirable place to live.
  • Keep the City Council informed on financial condition of the City. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are unaccounted for. Projects such as annexation, wards, business development projects that never materialize, etc., are not being shown on these reports.
  • Provide information that the City Council requests. There has been much written on this that indicates many requests are being ignored by the City Manager.

I believe it is time to look for a new City Manager. I propose that we pay $2000 a month more to get the caliber of a Mercer Island City Manager. A person like this is not going to come just for the money. They are going to want to see that the City Council has its act together before accepting the job. This person is going to be taking on a large backlog of problems and will need a Council that is willing to join them in turning this City around.

I have attached a more detailed outline to the City Clerk's copy for the the Council to revue. This outline will deal with issues ranging from pollution of Lake Burien, slide dangers in Seahearst, graffiti, bank repos, and slumlord dwellings and every other issue that degrades our City.

Our current City Manager's refusal to direct his department heads to follow the law needs to be stopped. If the Council is unwilling to deal with this issue, than we need to replace the City Council.


Proposed Changes

A significant number of issues confront Burien. Most of them are directly related to the City Manager's performance. Resolution will require the full good faith effort of Burien's legal, finance, planning and public works departments in conjunction with the City Council.

Legal / Code Compliance:

  • Written code compliance objectives need to be established.
  • Establish a written reasonable response time to code violations.
  • Track all time on these violations so that money can be recovered.
  • Establish a system to keep track of all compliance issues.
  • Review Washington State statues to determine internal City non-compliance issues.
  • Employ on an hourly basis specialty attorneys for unique problems.
  • Coordinate with Public Works to establish a proactive approach to implementing the BMC.


  • Maintain maps and documentation such that they do not contradict each other.
  • Recognize that surface water issues are only part of the situation causing slides. The constant filling and discharge from the Highline Aquifer will encourage slumping and catastrophic slides too.
  • Coordinate with Legal on all surface water issues, ie pollution, slides, etc.


  • Quarterly Report of Financial Status should indicate both the budget and expenditures on all Council directed projects, ie annexation, wards, business development plans, etc.

Public Works:

  • Coordinate with Code Compliance to provide necessary training to all employees on basic code violations, as well as the means to report these issues such as a camera phone.
  • Empower employees with the ability to address graffiti immediately.
  • Brush / hedge trimming along the public right of way by the City should be such that by the time the next scheduled trimming, the vegetation has not yet encroached upon or blocked sidewalks, roads, or intersections.
  • Provide all City cars with gloves, plastic bags and other implements necessary to address small compliance issues on the public right of way.

City Council:

  • Direct the City Clerk to keep a running tally for information from the City Manager by individuals on the Council. This should include the date of the request, the completion date, as well a a brief description of the material sought. This is to be placed in every Council Packet.


RCW 35A.13.080

City manager — Powers and duties.

The powers and duties of the city manager shall be:

  1. To have general supervision over the administrative affairs of the code city;

  2. To appoint and remove at any time all department heads, officers, and employees of the code city, except members of the council, and subject to the provisions of any applicable law, rule, or regulation relating to civil service: PROVIDED, That the council may provide for the appointment by the mayor, subject to confirmation by the council, of a city planning commission, and other advisory citizens' committees, commissions, and boards advisory to the city council: PROVIDED FURTHER, That if the municipal judge of the code city is appointed, such appointment shall be made by the city manager subject to confirmation by the council, for a four year term. The council may cause an audit to be made of any department or office of the code city government and may select the persons to make it, without the advice or consent of the city manager;

  3. To attend all meetings of the council at which his or her attendance may be required by that body;

  4. To see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully executed, subject to the authority which the council may grant the mayor to maintain law and order in times of emergency;

  5.  To recommend for adoption by the council such measures as he or she may deem necessary or expedient;

  6. To prepare and submit to the council such reports as may be required by that body or as he or she may deem it advisable to submit;

  7. To keep the council fully advised of the financial condition of the code city and its future needs;

  8. To prepare and submit to the council a proposed budget for the fiscal year, as required by chapter 35A.33 RCW, and to be responsible for its administration upon adoption;

  9. To perform such other duties as the council may determine by ordinance or resolution

  10. [2009 c 549 § 3025; 1987 c 3 § 17; 1967 ex.s. c 119 § 35A.13.080.]

         Severability -- 1987
    c 3: See note following RCW 3.70.010.


June 3, 2013

I refer to State Law about the City Manager's responsibilities:

  • Faithfully execute all laws and ordinances.
  • Keep the City Council informed on the financial condition of the City.
  • Provide information that the City Council requests.

I give an example into how each of them has been handled by the City Manager.
Quoting Law and providing a synopsis of what is actually occurring will have a stinging quality that will prompt action.

City websites provide salary information for the City Manager. I will be using Mercer Island as a comparison. It is a well run City and the salary difference is only 2K per month. The difference in pay is paltry; compared with the losses of 750K per day in net worth of the residents.
This calls into question the Council's judgment.

Council Packets contain letters to the Council. They articulate different problems occurring in different neighborhoods. Council Packets can be easily downloaded from the City website. (Google Street View can provide more visual information with just a click about information found in the packet)
The issues being ignored by the City Manager and City Council are best brought to light showing how they all intersect at the City Manager's office.



Changing how your City operates, will have a dramatic impact on the Nation. Clearing the obstacles that preclude access to our net worth is the first step towards wealth creation. As positive net worth becomes available to us, the City will become richer in both money and opportunities. With opportunities and the money to pursue them, the wealth creation cycle will continue in a sustainable fashion.

The good news about taking the time to make a case for change is: you are in motion.
Action is the cure for apathy and despair. For every person who speaks, thousands remain silent, and angry. By being inclusive, those thousands become involved in your campaign as they see how things can be better.

Since the days of the Parthenon, inclusion has been used to make a case for change. People's curiosity is piqued when they see how things relate to them in an unexpected way. As they become aware of the consequences of inaction, they want to know more. Adding solution to the presentation allows them to see how things can be better.