LETTER: Since Comments Aren’t Allowed in Study Sessions, Here’s a Letter…
Dear SeaTac City Council,
As you well know, I was in attendance at the Study Session and Council Meeting and commented during the RCM (Regular Council Meeting) as allowed on 02/12/13 since no comments are allowed during the alleged “study” session. I will approach the issues in the order that hopefully makes sense to you. I apologize in advance for this being so long and still not covering everything.
Item 1: Rules for Park N Fly operations in the City of SeaTac
My public comments Tuesday regarding the total disregard of the Council (4 members) for their own Advisory Committees, Planning Commission, and Planning Staff efforts needs further expansion. In your decision in the Study Session prior, the Council (4-3) killed the proposed rule changes (that actually were a return to previous rules) in a spate of economic naivety and especially the references (by un-elected Mayor Anderson) to non-documented testimony whereas the facts of the matters were discussed in detail over a three year period in the Committees/Commission/Planning by those who have the expertise to make these assessments/policy advisements to the Council.
The vote of 4 to 3 to defeat even further discussion of these rules alone adds an additional burden to those who wish to do business within our City, sends a negative message to potential development of any kind and to the advisory committees that they will be ignored on an uneducated whim of some Council members with blinders on that there is an airport within our jurisdiction.
The Sea-Tac Airport (Port of Seattle) is obviously within the City limits and is in direct competition with private parking enterprises within our City. The Port has openly opposed any rules that compete with them in a free market. They do not have to meet SeaTac codes in these endeavors (as can be seen by their own construction). Un-elected Mayor Anderson works for the Port in a managerial position and should by logical inference recuse himself from any such matters regarding airport parking but he has not. I will not speculate on why he has not in this case but he has recused himself on other Port/City of SeaTac matters of much less significance.
The significance of the parking matter is to the tune of 5 to 6 million dollars annually that make up ~20 percent of our general fund. The City of SeaTac does not have a Business and Occupation Tax nor a Utility Tax (though being contemplated to pay for salaries) yet businesses are pushed away and the jobs/economic development have gone elsewhere because of regressive policies/beliefs by some current and past Council members.
There is a strange irony here. Three of our four current Council members in 2011 rode in on a wave of money that dwarfed all previous SeaTac elections from labor groups and other like supporters. They seem to be shooting their supporters in the head when these member’s voting/policies have EXACTLY the opposite effect of providing good jobs, good wages, and economic development. The parking issue is just one of these, perhaps the largest. I will go into detail of others in future commentaries, time permitting.
In an unexpected development in the Council meeting, Council member Rick Forshler (in new business) requested a re-vote on the parking rules honoring the 3 years of work by all parties. This was a second chance for some members to pull their head out of a place it shouldn’t be. This again fell by a vote of 4 to 3 (same members). When I cannot draw a logical conclusion for a particular
stance/vote by someone I must go to the old adage of “follow the money” and it is the only inference I can draw from this fiasco. This majority decision by certain Council members has been publicly called a mistake, shameful, political, and some other words I will not repeat.
In summary, on this issue, SeaTac City Council please reconsider you votes and revisit the facts of the matter!
Item 2: (bet you thought I would never get to it) Council Committees versus Study Sessions
Council Member Fernald again brought up this item however, this time in new business in Tuesday night’s RCM. Ms Fernald has been advocating for a return to the standing Council Committee format versus the Study Session format. At first I narrowly supported the Study Session format because of expedience (not the changes to the RCM format). After a year of the Study Session format Ms. Fernald is right and I was completely wrong plain and simple.
It has become glaringly apparent the format was changed to limit Public input/participation and to move private agendas forward to the RCM, withhold dissenting discussion (such as the Parking issue), and to place un-elected Mayor Anderson (and cohort Deputy Mayor Gregerson in his absence) in charge of setting ALL agendas/discussions. Perhaps with other leaders this could have worked who shared and valued their other Council member’s opinions. It is now obvious expedience was not the reason for the change/s but sheer arrogance in who knows best at all times. Un-elected Mayor Anderson doesn’t even think other Council members know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance and will not even delegate the leading of attendees of the meetings in that little item.
Further, Council member Fernald brought up that the change to the Study Session format allowed City Manager Mr. Cutts to give an individual a $17K annual raise without Council oversight. The oversight used to be the Council Administration and Finance Committee. With the committee/s eliminated Mr. Cutts used that opportunity to do what I feel was illegal or at a minimum in poor judgment. I’m sure that story is not over.
It at least one respite, Council Member Ladenburg recognized that having Public Comment on the Consent Agenda is useless (my words, not his) and may be better placed in Action Items, New Business, and/or Unfinished Business when the Council is not in unanimous agreement. THIS is where Public Comment has meaning/impact. This will be discussed at the Council retreat and would mean a change to the new Council procedures orchestrated by un-elected mayor Anderson that also eliminated the Council Committees.
Sorry, but this is all I have time for this week. See you all at the next meetings and thank you for your service to our City.
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