Burien City Council Meeting 8/07/2017

This was the fifth, and potentially final, meeting to discuss the Burien’s “Sanctuary City” ordinance. They were prepared for the huge attendance with a television stationed in the hall outside, broadcasting the meeting for the standing-room crowd.

For this meeting, Debi Wagner joined the council by phone.

Senator King Lysen was honored for his work as State Senator. He was a longtime Burien resident and teacher, who worked with and supported many local unions, as well as protecting local parks and wildlife.

We then heard public comments unrelated to the agenda. A brief summary:

  • Ice cream trucks in low-income neighborhoods causing a constant noise issue.
  • Access to City Council meetings is needed for non-English speakers.
  • One resident had a harrowing experience with someone breaking & entering.
  • An enquiry was made about who would be the new Police Chief; the Mayor responded that this would be revealed later in the evening. This, however, did not happen- as you will see.
  • Bellevue passed an ordinance banning safe injection sites. Should Burien?

The Consent agenda passed unanimously and without discussion.

Lisa Marshall, the City Attorney, explained that the deadline for getting the “Sanctuary” ordinance on the November ballot has been extended to August 11th. Placing this item on the ballot will cause the current lawsuit against the City to be dropped, and will not cost the City additional money.

After this news, public comments related to the agenda were heard. All comments addressed Ordinance 651, the “Sanctuary” ordinance. During the nearly two hours of comments, all but three people were in support of 651. A brief summary:

  • Many people mentioned not feeling safe revealing their addresses, with Craig Keller, the man who brought both the Proposition to repeal the Sanctuary ordinance, and the ensuing lawsuit, to Burien.
  • Craig Keller mentioned the recent rape in Burien, and that some places have rejected similar Sanctuary ordinances.
  • Many people expressed support for placing 651 before the voters, since it seemed inevitable that it would end up there eventually either way.
  • Some mentioned an uptick in violence and hate crimes.
  • Many reminded us that our country stands for liberty & justice for all.
  • Some said that the petition to repeal the Sanctuary ordinance was blatantly racist, and an obvious attack on progress.
  • One said that racial profiling breaks down community trust.
  • The three Council Members who signed the petition were called out by name: Krakowiak, Wagner, and Edgar.
  • One young speaker left in tears before he was able to read what he wrote, in his native language.
  • One mentioned that the Council leadership is ineffectual and needs to be replaced.
  • One blamed the modern economic system for pitting workers against each other in the first place.
  • One refugee equated Ordinance 651 with dignity.
  • Many said that when we vote, we will choose love.
  • One mentioned that no one should be using a rape survivor as a political tool.
  • One resident pleaded with the council to make it very clear to the public what Ordinance 651 is, vs. Proposition 1, before we vote on it.
  • One expressed that Burien is a city for everyone.
  • One argued that 651 changed absolutely nothing besides the issue of religious status.
  • One shared a message from Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel: The first thing they did was to declare the Jews illegal.
  • One person reminded us that 3,648 people signed the petition stating that they wanted the Sanctuary ordinance repealed or put on the ballot.
  • One stated that racial profiling makes us less safe.
  • One said that all 10 claims made on the Respect Washington website were debunked by the LA Times in 2007, and reminded us that 1/4 of the signatures on the repeal initiative were fraudulent.

Around 9pm the Mayor called a break.

Bob Edgar then spoke at length in favor of putting this to a vote. After ten minutes of the Council discussing and disagreeing on how to make this decision, they voted 4:3 in favor of voting on the motion without discussion (no doubt they were working to avoid another filibuster, but as Austin Bell mentioned, they might have been putting the cart before the horse, since it was unlikely that anyone would filibuster this meeting). Finally, with no discussion of the subject in question among the Council, the motion to put the Sanctuary Ordinance on the November ballot passed, 6 in favor and one abstention.

No discussion was allowed before or after the vote, and the public got noisy about this change in the rules. At their first rumblings, the Mayor called another recess, and left the room along with Edgar. Berkowitz, Bell, Tosta, and Armstrong stayed, and Tosta addressed the public with her comments she was not allowed to say while council was in session. She said that she was very troubled by the outside influences that brought the Initiative against Ordinance 651. Then Berkowitz explained her position in abstaining, and in her filibuster last week during the special meeting.

One audience member asked why this ordinance even mattered, and Bell explained after a few audience members tried to answer the question. Bell said that the Ordinance bolstered existing laws, and spoke of concern that the City government is becoming an arm of the Federal government.

Mayor Krakowiak reentered the room at this point, and told everyone that we needed to clear the room so the Police could explain the rules of conduct. After this disruption, we again found our seats and there was a drawing to determine who would be on the committee to write the “Pro” statement in the Voter’s guide, and who would write the “Con” statement.

The names in the drawing to write the statement in favor of repealing the Sanctuary Ordinance were Chuck Rengol, Darla Green, Craig Keller, and Frank Coluccio. Green, Keller, and Coluccio were chosen randomly.

The names in the drawing to write the statement against repealing the Sanctuary Ordinance were Hugo Garcia, Terri Lindeke, Jennifer Fichamba, Daniel Martin, Joey Martinez, Krystal Marx, Jesse McFarland, Sandy Restrepo, and Phil Smith. The three chosen committee members were Fichamba, Restrepo, and Smith.

And so ended the meeting, at 10 pm. The remaining City business was tabled for the next meeting, despite Tosta highlighting the time-sensitive nature of the next agenda item.

Here is The Stranger’s report on our meeting.

One thought on “Burien City Council Meeting 8/07/2017

  1. Mayor Krakowiak and the Burien City Council,

    Burien City Council Meeting,
    Last night for the second meeting in a row I witnessed the most disturbing events take place in the name of representative democracy I have ever witnessed. I was hoping to go to the city council meeting and be proud of the result even though I did not think the result was the one I favored. But that is what democracy is, we are in this together.

    The below are my comments and observations, I represent my own views and no one else’s. I know others have very different beliefs and if we ever meet or correspond on this I will do my best to respond respectfully.

    The Meeting,
    After everyone spoke it was the attendees understanding they would witness some thoughtful discussion. No one had any illusions what the outcome would be. Burien Ordinance 651 which institutionalizes racism and puts human beings rights to popular vote would be on the ballot for the November election. In the end through a clever ploy CM Wagner short-circuited the debate and comment process through a motion to suspend the rules. To those opposed to this initiative it was not just disappointing but it was offensive. I’m not questioning the legality of this (I’m not a lawyer I don’t know). But for those that profess to have been opposed to CM Berkowitz’s filibuster last week. This was no different in tactics only outcome, this is the pot calling the kettle black.

    Having an outsider, Mr. Keller (no he does not live in Burien) come (reportedly) with outside money and his (racist) agenda is disturbing enough. Now we have Seattle and other local activists coming into our community as well. I see both sides as contributing/creating a more divisive environment. It is hard enough to have a civil dialog about sanctuary cities but this guarantees that November will be even uglier for all the attention. Hopefully some good will come of all the attention. My heart says otherwise.

    The Mayor,
    Any respect I had for Mayor Krakowiak, who I voted for, has evaporated. As stated above, IMO signing the initiative is endorsing institutionalizing racism, encourages attacks on ethnic minorities and is race baiting. I’ll stop here and say to the Mayor and the CM’s who signed this petition that we have a difference of opinion that will be decided at the ballot.

    What was even more disturbing than your signatures on 651 were the disciplinary tactics used in last nights council meeting. Since Mayor Krakowiak is unable to manage the council chambers; she resorts to the strong arm tactics of petty tyrants. The use of public servants as private goons was deeply troubling to me. On multiple occasions, what I have witnessed was an unruly but manageable room be converted by the Mayor into an unmanageable mob.

    Mayor Krakowiak does not appear to be interested in having a dialog with her constituents but appears to view her job as an extension of her political will. This in and of itself is not unusual or noteworthy politicians do it all the time. What is notable is the singular way her constituents were infantilized. I witnessed a lack of respect for her employers, the citizens of Burien as a lack of respect for those on the city council with opposing views. For instance, after the vote CM Tosca asked to speak, she was silenced, then the meeting was recessed. IMO, when our Mayor succumbs to the base instincts of bullying she is setting a poor example for all and cannot expect others to continue to respect her in the position of Mayor.

    What remaining respect I had disappeared in that moment. I was saddened that what happened was strictly partisan. Further, it is not ok to threaten the use of force in lieu of managerial skill. In particular, I was dismayed at the Mayor’s strong arm use of the recess, the unnecessary clearing of the council room and latent threats of police intervention because of a lack of managerial expertise. I did not see a mayor and public servants whose job was to serve and protect. I saw a dictator and her goons. I personally felt for Chief Kimerer and his men to be used in this manor by the Mayor. It reflects badly on us as a community and a representative democracy. My apology to the Chief and his men for being used as hired thugs. My apology to the Chief and his men for being upset with them. If Mayor Krakowiak cannot run a hot city council meeting perhaps she should not be Mayor of Burien?

    Why Does Any of This Matter?
    This matters because this is not who we are as a country and yet we find ourselves on a slippery slope where we no longer welcome people who look, sound or practice different religions, where we institutionalize racism and encourage violence against minority communities, where we turn one deviant rapist into a symbol of all minority peoples, where we vote on rights rather than give them freely. Human and civil rights are valuable but not for sale; we are not talking about taxi medallions we are talking about human beings and inalienable rights. Just as we ask the police to learn to deescalate we as a community will either learn to deescalate or violence will become commonplace. We need to decide which it’s going to be? We don’t have control over national issues but we do have control over our actions and of our city.

    I am very torn in writing the above, it may only add to the divisiveness that I want to see healed. The above are words not actions; remember sticks and stones? I am sharing as respectfully as I can on a subject that I am shocked requires standing up for, human dignity. Yet we are in a time where neither side will back down on their entrenched beliefs. I have chosen to add my outraged voice to the side that see’s what is going on not just as a difference of opinion but the difference between right and wrong, good and evil or if you will, undocumented immigrants (human beings) versus illegal aliens.

    Resident of Burien WA

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