[EDITOR'S NOTE: This column by Earl Gipson is a view of SeaTac city government. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The SeaTac Blog nor its staff. We are seeking additional regular columnists to reflect opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at email@example.com.]
by Earl Gipson
The excitement in SeaTac continues as I attended the Study Session and Council meeting Tuesday. Un-elected Mayor Anderson participated by phone and Deputy Mayor Gregerson chaired this week’s meetings.
Well folks it looks like we are heading toward contractually consolidating our SeaTac Fire Department with the Kent Regional Fire Authority. When Council member Fernald asked who started this idea and why, City Manager Cutts and Deputy Mayor Gregerson were quick to say it was former Council Member Gene Fisher’s idea and he always wanted a Ladder Truck ($600,000) for Christmas. This is not how I recalled it so I asked former Mayor/Council Member Gene Fisher to comment on the issue. Below is Gene Fisher’s letter to me.
“Earl, below is my answer to your request to watch the 8/13/13 study session. You can print it all if you want and I will hope my house doesn’t catch on fire. I never watched the whole study session, but I heard my name mentioned as an advocate for consolidation and the purchase of a ladder truck. Both are out of context, if not downright false.
Consolidation: I advocated consolidating with the Tukwila Fire Department as we were as closely matched and the combining would have saved us money and improved our service. I am on record as saying that it may increase service, but the cost of joining the Kent Fire Authority would substantially increase the cost, and we already had adequate service, I also went on record stating that the huge salary increases for every SeaTac firefighter would not justify the consolidation. No surprise the firefighters joined the UNITEHERE Union to funnel money to my opponent and hire canvassers to perpetuate lies all over the city to unseat me from the council. It is sad, but is a risk every candidate must be willing to take if they want to stick to their principles.
Now for the ladder truck: The firefighters have threatened, cajoled and intimidated candidates, including me, at every election to get a ladder truck. Most know the primary reason is so they can add more union firefighters to the system as we have two ladder trucks next door on either side of SeaTac and could be sharing their cost via an ILA as two high rise fires at once is about as likely as being stuck by lightening. However, I have advocated many times we buy a universal Quint instead of a fire engine, because if configured properly it can do the work of a ladder truck and a fire engine with less personnel and millions in savings. Of course the firefighters have studied every reason under the sun not to purchase a Quint, and have been very successful at countering the effort as it cuts into their union’s goal to keep adding more and more personnel.”
Is this almost 7 years of evaluating and most likely consolidating our Fire Department with Kent worth it? If in fact the numbers presented by staff and the consolidation committee prove to factual in 2020 (break even point) then it was worth it. Is anyone going to check in 2020? That is highly unlikely not to mention a lot of us who will remember won’t be here in 2020 if the “Jobs Killing Initiative” passes.
In other Study Session news our legislative report stated, “Working with a coalition of public agency lobbyists, GTHGA (SeaTac’s lobbyist) advanced a bill to reform the public records act to provide some relief to public agencies that are receiving harassing or overly burdensome public records requests. The City of SeaTac actively participated in this effort.”
There you have it. Our City officials working on your behalf to limit that pesky public information that we are supposed to have access to. Would the public have found out that campaign laws were being broken in 2009′s election by Council Member Mia Gregerson and City employee Colleen Schluter-Brandt without public records requests? Well no. The hijacking of SeaTac elections will be covered in a future column as time permits. Council Member Ladenburg supported curtailing public records requests in his later comments citing its cost to public agencies/jurisdictions. I say, what price freedom? Something in there you don’t want us to see Councilman?
Just when I think the meeting is over and we can all go home at 7:00 PM, Council Member Gregerson introduces New Business request. 5 hours of staff time for them to study whether we want to apply for a 500K grant (bicycle lanes, etc). It’s a simple request, right? Not really. First the Council was just handed the grant information at the meeting. Second, should we apply we will need to hire a grant
writer (no expertise in house as was explained). Secondly, the grant application is due August 26th. Thirdly, there are no more Council Meetings till September so what the Council is actually voting is the 5 hours staff time AND hiring the consultant to write the application. You can see where this is going (even though it took 40 minutes to get there). Three Council Members-Yes. Three Council Members-No and un-elected Mayor Anderson to the rescue, (still connected by phone) with a Yes to make 4 to 3 to spend the money and time.
So ends another exciting Study Session and Council meeting. Seriously, these issues are all important however, after this I needed more excitement so I rushed home to watch some paint dry.