City Council needs to address conflicts of interest | Letter to the editor

I thought my letters to the Reporter had pretty much covered critical issues associated with our city government and tried to gently persuaded it to do better. However, a couple of things stand out as needing more attention.

My letter to the editor published in the April issue of the Reporter broached the subject of reciprocity or the appearance thereof between council members and public union representatives, obviously to no avail. So I will be more succinct and direct in addressing this subject and hope the council is paying attention.

From my letter in the Reporter April 2017: “The coveted endorsements of council people over the years by fire, police and other public employee unions represent a conflict of interest and gives the appearance of reciprocity (you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours). Council candidates should decline such (red Herring) endorsements and remove all doubt of a conflict of interest.”

All council members have enjoyed such endorsements over the years and have approved legislation that benefit the unions. Could that possibly be why we are siting three new fire stations without an in-depth study (If such a study exists, where are the details?) to determine if all three are really needed when fire calls are fewer year after year? Is that governance? This leaves a cloud of doubt whether a conflict of interest exists/existed that can and should be removed through council legislation. Note: SeaTac is consolidating by closing its station No. 47.

The council needs to draft legislation specifying the appropriate conduct of the elected, which is long overdue. Such endorsements give incumbents an unfair advantage in elections. Cruising some of the surrounding areas and neighborhoods, none of the other neighboring cities’ council candidates had public union endorsements married to their campaign signs and neither should Tukwila candidates either. Some self governance is a good thing, and it’s time for legislation.

Effective immediately, I shall not vote for any council candidate whose campaign flyers and/or signs displays endorsements of unions whose employees they govern or if elected will govern, no matter their perceived value and qualifications. Henceforth, I encourage other Tukwila voters to do likewise. Individual endorsements are very acceptable by the names of endorsers.

The council’s legislative process works but needs some tweaking to inform its constituency of the whole picture, pro and con, of the proposed legislation and its associated costs during the presentation to the Committee of the Whole (COW). It’s long on selling, represented by staff and three council members (the committee chair and the two assigned council members) to convince the other four council members of its merits. The other four usually jump on board apparently based on their trust in the other three and consensus is achieved. More comprehensive presentations, costs, pro and con of the legislation would be a welcome change. Rarely does such legislation ever get sent back to committee to be reworked and resubmitted to COW.

– Bill Holstine


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