Commentary

The Cactus Speaks: More from the August 11th SeaTac Council Meeting…


[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 different opinions and views of SeaTac residents. Those interested can e-mail us at [email protected].]

by Earl Gipson

There were more changes to the Council Procedures in the last Council Meeting on August 11th that I did not have time to cover in the last column. The new Council Procedures can be found here.

Council Travel (Section 13)
It has been the majority Council’s contention that all their travel was pre-approved in budget discussions and this is just memorializing it in the Council’s procedures. In the previous Council Procedures travel expenses were capped at $4,000 annually per Council Member (Section 13). Now it is open to abuse if they can sneak it into the budget discussions (closed working groups). Do we trust them?

“When determined to be in the best interests of the City of SeaTac, Council members may attend conferences and workshops within the City Council’s total adopted budget limit. Travel pre-approval and final approval of related expenses will come before the City Council for approval on the Consent Agenda as set forth in Section 5 (6)(a).”

In unfinished business the Council discussed this excessive (my opinion) travel. Tony Anderson said, “I think we are getting our money’s worth out of this” and “it brings a significant amount of money into our city.” Please explain why we needed a Council imposed 6.25 percent Utility Tax to balance the budget if the money is rolling in.

Tony Anderson defended their gallivanting by stating “many of the ‘benefits’ are intangible.”

Intangible is defined in Webster’s: not made of physical substance: not able to be touched: This would apply to the revenue and money coming into our city as a result of our Council member’s travel.

Why is it important to talk to our national politicians in Washington D.C.? They all have local offices here, they all return frequently to the geographic place that they represent, they all have email, and they all have phone numbers. Why can’t our issues be discussed with these national representatives using these other venues?

Council member Bush stated the Council needs to look at this travel at the 40,000 foot level. Well that’s great but apparently some may need more oxygen. We are sending a quorum of Council members to Nashville for the National League of Cities Conference. Mr. Bush said two Council members should be adequate. He seems to be getting more oxygen than some other Council members.

Council Procedures for phoning it in (Section 9 Para D)
Another overlooked part of Council Procedures is that Council members are able to vote and participate by phone. This allows consistently non-attending Council members to call in their votes, participate in debate while feathering their political nests, or sitting on the toilet.

This has been in the procedures for a long time, however it had never been abused, till recently by a particular Council member. Perhaps there should be a limit of how many times you can do this in a given period (or just resign if you are simply too busy to show up or face your constituents a couple times a month). Other suggestions/comments on this would be appreciated.

A million bucks, so what (Section 5 (C) (6) (a))
Things that will be placed on the Consent Agenda: 7th bullet point.

This Section used to say

Final Acceptance of Public Works projects valued at under $50,000 in total cost.

It now says

Final Acceptance of public works projects within the authorized expenditure amount.Under $1 million in total cost – placed directly on the consent agenda, however the City Manager will provide the City Council with a brief written description of the project and a budget synopsis (performance to budget) with the City Council packet. $1 million or greater in total cost – placed directly on the consent agenda with a presentation made the same night at the beginning of the RCM to present before and after pictures prior to Consent Agenda action.

What this means is you ain’t gonna hear about any cost overruns unless a Council Member removes it from the Consent Agenda and it is discussed in Unfinished Business if its under $1 million. It also means the Council members need to read their packets carefully.

In Summary
The City Manager and staff only tell the Council members what the City Manager and staff wants the Council to hear. The City Council only tells the public what the City Council wants the Public to hear. When in doubt bury it in the Council Packet and put it on the Consent Agenda. (These packets can be in excess of 500 pages, and are not available until the Friday afternoon prior to their Tuesday meeting. It is apparent that some citizens read these voluminous packets more thoroughly than some Council Members.) This is the new transparency.

One last thing…

Was this campaigning?
I don’t criticize Council member Bush often (he may disagree). However his spiel during Council Comments was nothing but pure campaigning to retain his Council seat in November. For three minutes he listed all the stuff he’s done and volunteered for. Please put it in your campaign brochure. He stopped just short of saying “please vote for me” which would have been blatant. Don’t get me wrong, they all do it but it is getting a tad over the top. Election season does that to you I suppose. Perhaps you may peruse the SeaTac Council video Comments (08/11/15) at the meeting here and judge for yourself.


Comments

3 Responses to “The Cactus Speaks: More from the August 11th SeaTac Council Meeting…”
  1. jellybean says:

    It doesn’t take a genius to realize that ALL of these are designed ONLY to benefit the current council majority and city manager while further REDUCING TRANSPARENCY to the citizens.

    We need to put a stop to this power-hungry madness and VOTE THEM OUT NOW.

    • Michael T Kovacs says:

      Unelected Mayor up for reelection Mia Gregerson is unemployable in the private sector.

      The council rules maneuvering by the unelected Mayor demonstrates the lack of care for the citizens with hidden meetings and lack of budget management. She would get fired in the private sector. So voters fire her in November 2015.

      Sally Andrews the unknown is getting “brain washed” to follow in Mia footsteps to perform much of the same.

  2. Mike Condon says:

    I to listen to Mr. Bush lavish praise upon himself, But I am sure the rotary was responsible for over 75% of these items he mentioned. I would be glad to compare our business with Mr Bush for the last 8 years. But then outside observer would say that, I am just tooting my own horn. But a $ 999,950.00 increase for any business without any one watching is ludicrous, but tax payers in SeaTac are supposed to accept it????