LETTER: Meeting was political rally

The Oct. 4 supposed informational forum sponsored by the NHUAC, struck me as a political rally put on by the King County Executive’s Office to promote the annexation on Area Y/White Center/North Highline to Burien.

The letter from Dow Constantine /King County Executive read by Joe McDermott, that supposedly was sent out to every North Highline resident was clearly a campaign effort at an informational meeting in a manner that makes the agency appear to be supporting a ballot measure. According to the Public Disclosure Commission’s (PDC) Guidelines for Local Government Agencies in Election Campaigns, page 6 this activity is not allowed.

Additionally, according to PDC Guidelines, the King County Executive shall not use public resources to operate a speakers’ bureau in a manner that may be viewed as promoting a ballot measure. Karen Freeman’s presentation joined with that of Joe McDermott’s presentation--both from King County- appeared to be promoting a ballot measure.

I wrote to the county about who was paying for and sponsoring this letter that came from the King County Executive and was told this:
“State law prohibits the use of public facilities or public money for campaign purposes. However, public employees--including public officials-have the same right as any citizen to endorse, donate to, or volunteer for political campaigns. 
The letter from Executive Constantine that you cite was his own opinion and was produced outside of work, using his own time and materials.”

To me, as a citizen, this did not seem to be just a letter produced by just Executive Constantine on his own private time because for one thing he signed it “Dow Constantine, King County Executive.” It appeared to be a concerted effort by all of the representatives of King County at what was a supposed informational meeting to try to scare the residents of Area Y/White Center/ North Highline and the media into believing that annexation must happen right now. Eric Mathison of the Highline Times appears to have reported it that way from what he heard at the forum.

It’s also interesting to note ALL the players in this dog and pony show were either formers staffers or employees of Dow Constantine like Sharon Nelson and Karen Freeman or staffers of staffers like (Joe) Fitzgibbons and beholding to Dow Constantine politically like Joe McDermott. It looks like he put political pressure on these folks to help him convince the residents to vote for annexation so he could clear the big red ink off of the Counties balance sheet.

I also do not understand why the city of Burien did not attach some strings to this annexation so that if it did result in fiscal disaster that the county would be responsible for helping make up the shortfall. This is a deal breaker and Mr. Martin ill served the current residents of Burien and the residents of Area Y by failing to negotiate this with Dow when in fact Burien is holding a very strong position from which to negotiate.

Sharon Nelson’s consolation that if it doesn't work out, the city can lobby the state emphasizes this fact. Even if you support annexation it’s a no-brainer that the residents of area Y should turn down the current annexation proposal and hold out for a better deal from the county.

John Poitras

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