Council attendance an issue in SeaTac, Burien

Wrangling about attendance at City Council meetings has migrated from Burien to SeaTac.

SeaTac Mayor Tony Anderson announced at the Jan. 22 City Council meeting that the regular March 12 meeting would be cancelled because he and two other council members will be out of town.

He noted that there is no pressing business for the March 12 meeting. He suggested the topics that might be covered at the study session and regular meeting could be discussed at the Feb. 23 council retreat.

However, three council members, who often vote together, objected to the cancellation.

Councilmember Pam Fernald said Mayor Anderson had cancelled the meeting arbitrarily without consulting his colleagues. Anderson replied that SeaTac mayors routinely cancel meetings, including for summer and Christmas breaks in August and December.

Fernald suggested the missing council members could attend the March 12 meeting via Skype or telephone as has been done previously.

Anderson replied those methods are inconvenient and often fail.

The mayor asked for consensus on canceling the meeting but council members Terry Anderson and Rick Forschler joined Fernald in objecting. Mayor Anderson suggested the lawmakers discuss it further at the Feb. 23 retreat.

Mayor Anderson, Deputy Mayor Mia Gregerson, Councilmember Barry Ladenburg and City Manager Todd Cutts are scheduled to attend a National League of Cities conference in Washington D.C. on March 12.

If a council meeting was held in SeaTac on that date, Councilmember Dave Bush, who usually votes with the three conference-bound lawmakers, would be sharing the council platform with Fernald, Forschler and Terry Anderson. The three often find themselves on the minority end of 4-3 votes.

The situation recalls the controversies in the neighboring city of Burien.

During Thanksgiving week, Burien Councilmember Jack Block took advantage of the absence of Mayor Brian Bennett and Councilmember Joan McGilton to pass an anti annexation measure also supported by councilmembers Lucy Krakowiak and Bob Edgar. Block was poised to offer other motions when Deputy Mayor Rose Clark abruptly recessed the meeting and walked out with Councilmember Gerald Robison.

On Jan. 7, Krakowiak was elected deputy mayor over Clark with the support of Block and Edgar. McGilton and Robison were absent.

The Jan. 14 regular Burien council meeting and a January retreat were subsequently cancelled.

Meanwhile, on Jan. 24, Des Moines council members voted 5-0 to place a 20-year utility tax increase on the Aug. 6 election ballot with only staff and a lone newspaper reporter in the audience.

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