The Cactus Speaks: This better not be Déjà vu all over again

[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

The Special Council Meeting on the 19th was special indeed. The Council interviewed candidates for Interim City Manager in public. I was chatting in another conference room with the candidates and didn’t watch the actual Q & A interviews until Wednesday on the City’s website.

What, me worried?
Here I was all worried that we would not find a local qualified Interim City Manager and along comes Bob Jean hero of Valdez and other situations. I looked him up of course and his record was as impressive as his interview on Tuesday evening. Problem is, we didn’t hire him.

Worried a little
We did hire James “Donny” Payne, a resident of Des Moines and former losing candidate for their City Council. Mr. Payne’s credentials pale in comparison to Mr. Jean’s; however, our new Council Majority are the “deciders” and they may have access to information, insights, etc that I don’t. With the lawsuit (Kingen), the budget, and the Port Inter Local Agreement issues I think we all might be nervous nellies right now and not to put to much pressure on our Interim City Manager, but you better be good.

Was this enough?
Seventeen questions (in public) may not be enough for this type of position but we are in a bit of a pickle staff wise. I doff my hat to all those candidates who stepped up. No one ever calls me (my company) unless there is a severe problem and they have only one question for me. Can you help us? I answer truthfully and if yes, 5 minutes later we are into it (the Non-Disclosure Agreements are always prepared in advance). It was overheard that Mr. Jean offered Mr. Payne any help if he needed it during his tenure. Now that’s a gentleman.

Trust, then verify
For our City, only the Council can make this type of emergency call (probably more to come) and we have to trust their judgment and we can become unhinged later if they hurt our home and City any further. SeaTac is overdue and deserves a lucky break. I don’t want to call off the honeymoon. I am an equal opportunity Cactus (jerk for shorthand).

My editor, Jack Mayne, called the meetings meandering. That was very nice. I couldn’t find an appropriate synonym in the dictionary just now. Maybe next column. The process was open and transparent. What was transparent to me may not be transparent to some but I would ask you watch the meeting/interviews and make your own assessments/comments.

Jury is still deliberating on the Kingen v SeaTac trial. I am dreading writing about that.


14 Responses to “The Cactus Speaks: This better not be Déjà vu all over again”
  1. Sojie says:

    This Cactus guy is amazingly hypocritical. Can’t imagine how anyone could cut so much slack after witnessing that circus. Cactus gives way too much over-the-top to his chosen; no accountability. Can’t imagine what he would have written if the old city council had conducted such a pre-rigged, unprofessional, worrisome maneuver. Starting to worry that we may have an ALGONA situation brewing at SeaTac city hall.

  2. Vicki Lockwood says:

    Sojie, I think you may have overlooked a critical point in Mr. Gipson’s well-written and thought out article about this meeting and decision. I realize his article was long, so let me highlight this critical point:

    “we have to trust their judgment and we can become unhinged later if they hurt our home and City any further”

    This was such a vital part of his article that he even gave the notion it’s own heading … “Trust then Verify”.

    We need to trust our new Council. We voters sent a message that we no longer wanted “business as usual” at City Hall, and that’s what we’re seeing. I hope everyone will let the changes evolve, perhaps in a style that you may not have expected … but let’s wait and see the results! (see my comment regarding the appointment of Donny Payne that Jack Mayne wrote … I was wrong to have left my seat and commented during this last meeting.)

    • Sojie says:

      I am watching very carefully, appreciate your patience, and want to give this council the benefit of the doubt, but they essentially hired an intern for this critical position. They hired someone who has no city management experience, no budgeting experience, a guy who, when asked about crime in the city, replied, ” crime – no, no, no!” He will be hiring key employees, and he has no experience with this either. And the four council members hired him over two other individuals (not Wachtel) who had direct experience. Why? Because he lives on the border between Des Moines and SeaTac, and maybe because he is Forschler’s friend? I heard Forschler refer to him in the familiar, “Hi Donny”.
      This poor guy, fresh out of graduate school, has no clue how to help this new council balance the budget.
      I’ll try to be patient, Ms. Lockwood, but this is just not good.

  3. Sojie says:

    … one last thought Ms. Lockwood… The fact that the four new councilmembers, all so decisively and with no qualms, hired the guy who, arguably, had the least amount of experience (tied with Wachel), makes me think that they had this vote decided prior to the council meeting. I hope I’m wrong, but so much for transparency.

    I still think this editorial opinion was much too generous, and hypocritical.

  4. Der says:

    Does anyone speak code?
    Is Sojie…Mia?

    • Der says:

      I’m guess from the number of “thumbs down” I received, that I guessed right.
      Incumbent is spelled with an “I”, not an “e”, Mia.
      Commence with the thumbs down. Hope you have popcorn.

  5. Filet my salmon says:

    For the love of God people! Chill the f out!! This is an interim position which acts solely on the Council’s direction. The former CM was given carte blanche with city funds, hirings and contracts and look what happened. There is no way on earth that these 4 new members will allow that to happen again. The purse strings have been tightened due to the lack of integrity of several past members and one current member and the former CM. You fools that voted for Mia, Tony, Dave and Barry have only yourselves to blame for the sh*thole that the city is now.

    The tough decisions are now being made because of prior actions and bad decisions of the past. The City Manager position is not rocket science, especially when no decisions can be made without council approval. How can it be any worse than Todd?

    As far as the other so called qualified candidates…one person. seems to have spent a lot of his career as interim CM for various cities..why was he never hired in a permanent roll? Smells fishy to me, better check with resident fish expert Kathryn.

    I could understand everyone’s worry if the interim CM was given the free reign that Todd was given, but that is simply not going to happen..if anything, the interim CM will be placed directly under the microscope 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What I don’t understand is why ANYONE would want the position or sit on the Council right now. Seatac sucks toes right now..

    • Jack Mayne says:

      Just for the record, if you are referring to Bob Jean, he was the city manager or University Place in Pierce County for 18 years, retired and since has been doing interim appointments each very successful in the reviews of those who are running those cities (including Normandy Park).

  6. Joel says:

    Let’s see, one political machine has run SeaTac for over 25 years and has created a city unable to create and execute a sustainable budget during that time. The city is currently defending itself against a major lawsuit that is asking for 18 million dollars and alleges inappropriate and maybe criminal behavior of past city employees who were probably instructed by council member to take those actions. The outgoing council members, without notice or public discussion decided to repeal a tax revenue stream 2 weeks before leaving office. They made absolutely no attempt to re-balance the budget. Obviously as a act of sabotage against the official who beat them in the election. Next those same outgoing council members insist on signing an interim ILA with the POS in-spite of the fact it did not need to be consummated until February 2016, failing to give the new council the chance to review or attempt to address any of the contracts short comings. Next a mass exodus of management personal magically occurs just in time to become a problem to the new council. The City Manager who is central to the previously mentioned lawsuit against the city is removed as the councils first act and within the first 3 weeks in office the Council scrabbles to replace the City Manager, because the acting city manager had given her resignation weeks earlier.

    It sounds like fiction doesn’t it! But sadly its not!

    Given the sordid political history of SeaTac it sounds like the new council is actually trying to turn this ship around. They examined the applicants and made a choice that was their right to make! (Just like the old councils right to repeal the utility tax and sign the ILA.) Whether they have made the right decision or not, at least they have made a decision to stop doing “business as normal”.

    I personally applaud the fact they took action quickly, decisively and openly. No secret meetings here. But as shown by the comments you can’t please everyone.

    The interim City manager won’t be here long enough to do the budget, so why does he need that skill? He is a proven leader and that is what is needed now in the city.

    So why don’t you sit back for six months or so and stop trying to pick apart a group of people who have inherited the mess most of you people have allowed to happen before they took office. That would be the right thing to do!

    • Sojie says:

      Joel – you say ” The outgoing council members, without notice or public discussion decided to repeal a tax revenue stream 2 weeks before leaving office. They made absolutely no attempt to re-balance the budget. ”
      …. like this is a bad thing !!!???

      This is exactly what your people based their successful, negative campaigns on – the terrible, unnecessary utility tax! The old council did this new council a huge favor! They got rid of that utility tax, thereby giving this new council the opportunity to re-write the budget, which gives them a golden opportunity to prove that the tax wasn’t needed in the first place! I can’t imagine how you could possibly criticize such a thing.

      Take note Mayor Forschler – The new council campaigned on the premise of (as Forschler’s yard signs said) “more services; less taxes”. Well, they’ve got less taxes now. So they should get to work, re-write the budget and provide us with MORE services. This is what they promised!

      • Joel says:

        Sojie, obviously you don’t get the big picture. Do you think repealing the tax prior to finding ways to resolve the hole in the budget is responsible or just the act of a childish, petulant sore loser who never cared about the SeaTac taxpayers anyway? there is absolutely no doubt in most peoples mind what it was, a tantrum because they lost! Its very telling how you didn’t even try to refute my opening paragraph, because the truth is obvious!

        I’m not worried about the budget being fixed. Just the swift action of this current council shows that they are taking their jobs very seriously. Actually, the budget may already be well on its way to being balanced due to the sudden departure of all the high salaried managers that just happen to feel it was time to leave.

        You seem to think that the new council can fix a system that has been ravaged by poor management for decades in just weeks. I’m happy you have found an outlet for your anger at the loss of what was obviously your candidates, but voicing it this way, three weeks into a 4 year term seems very immature. But its clear, your agenda is not with the best interest of the taxpayers!

  7. Sojie says:

    Let’s play grown up. Here’s what happened. You defeat the encumbants with months of trolling on neighborhood blogs, hit mail pieces and negative tv ads. Your effective message is that they (the old council) took an unnecessary tax vote.. They lose. You win. They, the old council, stinging from a loss, then decide to rescind that tax, and they go away, leaving you to run the city without the tax.
    Joel, you’re saying the old council should also have re-written the budget prior to rescinding the tax? Well, if they could have done that, they never would have raised the taxes in the first place!
    Time to play grown up now that you actually have to govern. Get it done, Mr. Forschler! As you said, “more services, less taxes”!

  8. GreenBean says:

    Hay, Sojie and you’re fan club. Its time for someone to out the Julia Patterson groupies … the two candidates who had experience were plants and submitted there applications after being prompted by the Julia-Mia-Tony-Barry-Campbell-Upthegrove-clan. The SeaTacians should be thanking the new people for not falling for the trick.

  9. Joel says:

    Sojie, stop smoking so much weed! My letters on the blog were completely factual, and the only negative ad pieces were from the incumbents. Remember the “SeaTac is the 7th most dangerous city” from Mia and Sally? I guess you never wondered who was running the city while it became so dangerous. Well lots of voters figured it out. 60% of the vote is a big win. You really have to give the credit to the outgoing council for doing such a poor job while they were in office. Voters do not vote out elected officials they feel are doing the right job.

    This is the last time I will tell you, the changes will come. In the first 3 weeks we have a new interim city manager, that’s immediate action. More changes will be coming you can bet on that. But since your not on the council, you really have little to do with it. So give it a rest.