Burien council meeting abruptly recessed after controversial motions with missing lawmakers

Burien Deputy Mayor Rose Clark abruptly recessed Monday night’s City Council meeting after three lawmakers, usually in the minority, began pushing through legislation by taking advantage of the absence of two majority council members.

Mayor Brian Bennett and former mayor Joan McGilton had excused absences from the meeting. They often vote on the same side as Clark and Councilmember Gerald Robison.

However, as the meeting was winding down, Councilmember Jack Block Jr. moved that North Highline be removed from Burien’s proposed annexation area. North Highline voters overwhelmingly rejected Burien’s proposal to be annexed into the city at the Nov. 6 election.
The motion was approved when Block, along with council members Lucy Krakowiak and Bob Edgar, voted in favor. Clark and Robison voted against.

Krakowiak and Edgar did not offer comments before the vote.

Block said Burien’s annexation proposal had “torn the community apart.

“It is time to bring the community back together,” Block declared.

Clark, Robison, Bennett and McGilton had voted to put annexation before North Highline voters. Block, Krakowiak and Edgar opposed it.

Robison countered Block’s comment by saying North Highline’s annexation vote was not a rejection of Burien. He said voters did not want to be annexed to any city. He also cited a strong anti-annexation effort in North Highline that Robison said gained strength in the last two weeks of the campaign.

‘The action taken (by Block) causes disharmony,” Clark declared.

She accused Block of going behind the backs of the two absent lawmakers.

It was Block’s second motion that caused Clark to end the meeting and walk out of the council chambers with Robison.

Block moved that the council set an April election date for Burien voters to decide on changing the city’s form of government from city manager/city council to elected mayor/city council.

In the current system, City Manager Mike Martin supervises staff and manages city government. Council members select one of their colleagues to serve as mayor. The mayor presides over the council meeting and represents the city at ceremonial events.

Under the elected mayor system, the mayor would be elected by a citywide vote and would be Burien’s chief executive.

Block, Krakowiak and Edgar have often clashed with Martin. The four other lawmakers have generally supported him.

After Clark ended the meeting, Krakowiak said Clark’s action was “inappropriate."

Block called it “immature.”

He said the two absent council members had chosen to schedule their vacation on a night when the council met.

Block added the council needed to take action on the timely matters he had brought up.

Block said he had planned to introduce a third motion to accept a grant for two new Burien police officers. He said Martin had based acceptance of the grant on approval of North Highline annexation.

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