[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
Council Committees remain closed to Public.
Getting a straight answer from this majority Council is like pulling teeth. Since Council Committees and “working group’s” definitions can’t be kept straight by the Council or the City Manager (watch the meeting), we all might as well start using them interchangeably.
The 45 minutes spent on this at the study session was tedious, confusing, and full of irrelevant points. Many (including me) sat through this and came away with the feeling the majority Council had no intentions of changing anything from the get go.
A stab at a summary of the lowlights
City Manager Todd Cutts made ridiculous comparisons to other city committees and then tried to pass them off as working groups (i.e. Festival Committee, Fire Station Design Committee, Tukwila/SeaTac Conference Committee). These are composed of citizens, staff and possibly a Council member or so. They are not SeaTac Council Committees nor are they called working groups. Standing Citizen/business Committees are identified/defined in the SMC (SeaTac Municipal Code-Title 2) are open to the public, and appear on the City Calendar. The Hotel/Motel Tax Advisory Committee is addressed in the SMC Title 3.80 and the same rules apply.
Councilmember Bush said he has personally invited certain citizens to the “working groups” and no one took him up on it. So I guess he would like it to be by invitation only. This elitist attitude should disturb everyone. None of us are the sharpest pencil in the box on every subject. We need all the help/input we can get.
Councilmember Campbell said that anyone can call her or any Councilmember/staff if they want to find out what is going on in a “working group.” I would call a staff member. No one likes B.S and does anyone want to talk with Councilmember Campbell for any reason?
Councilmember Tony Anderson couldn’t keep the committee/“working group” nebulous definition straight either and was corrected by un-elected Mayor Gregerson when he lost track of which entity he was talking about.
I may be beating a dead horse (the majority Council) but nowhere in Council Procedures, the SeaTac Municipal Code, or on toilet paper rolls are Council “working groups” mentioned or defined. Their scope, method, and/or reasons to justify their formation appears nowhere except in some of our Council members head’s. No one on the Council majority/City Manager seems to want to see it or admit private “working groups” were and are a bad idea. Even though Ms. Gregerson suspended the formation of such meetings/committees, the damage has been done and everyone smells it like dirty laundry.
Disrespectful tone at Regular Council Meeting
In public comments at the regular meeting, citizen Joann Hill requested Council committees be again open to the public and was accused by Gregerson of using a “disrespectful tone.”
Ms Hill fired back “like you do with Pam Fernald?” (Ref. Councilmember Fernald in a previous meeting). Ouch! Ms. Hill continued to mention a gentleman living at Ms. Gregerson’s address spreading falsehoods about her on the social network NextDoor. Ms. Hill’s question to Gregerson “is this coming from you?” Double ouch! Was Gregerson too stunned to find her gavel?
Former Councilmember/candidate wants open committees restored
Also in Public Comment, Rick Forshler spoke in favor of Council Committee meetings open to the public and restoring the phrase “and its committees” to Council Procedures. Of course the majority Council will ignore him and the rest of us until they are no longer the majority.
Hey look! An election Nov. 3!
Should all this be necessary?
When the Council committees/”working groups” were open to the Public very few members of the public showed up unless there was a particular agenda item they had an interest in or could provide some unique insight for the Council members. What was so wrong with that?
Let’s just put “and its committees” back in the Council Procedures and/or define working groups, open them to the Public and move on.