Tim Robinson
Kamuron Gurol at work.

Mystery at Burien City Hall--a mini-series 

Burien Council fires the city manager after other defections

by Ken Robinson
Editor

What is the toxic nature of Burien City Hall that has led to the departure of five department heads in the last two years?

One city attorney quit the first day of work without coming to the office. He cited "family" considerations. His replacement left after little more than a year. A long-time parks department head left mid-year of 2016. The economic development man left mid-summer. And then the council fired the city manager.

And now, no one is talking. The mayor won't return calls for comment. The new city attorney won't call back. The deputy mayor has not been heard from. None of the council members are willing to speak.

What has been going on is like a TV mini-series in its third year. In a town where drama is pretty hard to find, the council seems to be making its own. They already dealt with the problem  of people who smell bad hanging out at the library. And they really went after residents who insist on displaying junk cars in their yards. 

What's left after those irksome problems? How about driving out all the talent after vetting them, welcoming them, then disparaging them. 

We are left to imagine what goes on in executive session, the legal construct that allows elected officials to talk candidly amongst themselves without the prying eyes and ears of the public watching them on cable TV. It is also the fallback for savaging anyone who displeases the council.

Kamuron Gurol is a fellow well met. Mid-50s, he has the gray hair of a man of experience and his pedigree confirms that notion. He became city manager in August, 2014 after serving as number two man in Sammamish and after a stint in planning in Snohomish County.

He has a credential from Harvard.

During his tenure here, he faced no external controversies (other than people who smell bad). Some significant commercial growth took place while he was manager, including the large Merrill Gardens project. But the town is not substantially changed.

The real change took place inside City Hall.

One insider said that Kamuron Gurol was characterized more for "glad handing" rather than his effectiveness in the role he was paid to do. 

Burien Mayor Lucy Krakowiak called for his dismissal last year. Others wanted him out too. At the time, they need more votes.

Some members of the Burien Economic Development Partnership, a citizen group that included at least one representative from the city, talked about Gurol's performance. The city man was Dan Trimble, who left in the summer after many years in his city role. According to one source, Trimble was upset with Gurol for reasons that were revealed. 

Trimble was well-liked by the BEDP members and by developers working to do major projects in the city. People were told Trimble was "on leave," but he had actually already left. He had signed a 'separation agreement' with the city after intervention by the new city attorney.

Another relatively new hire, Katie Trefry, also left after a short stint. Trefry was working on the Burien 'branding' project with a Tacoma firm that was paid $95,000 to find ways to show Burien is a positive light to the outside world. Gurol reportedly delayed the project. Trefry then went to work for the company that had the contract. 

Now, the City of Burien is a rudderless ship. There is no leadership in the key departments that are supposed to do the daily business of the city.

Kamuron Gurol gave the city a letter at the regular council meeting Monday night. Oct. 6 is his last day. 

We believe it is incumbent upon the mayor and council to pull back the curtain and explain why there has been such tumultuous change in such a short time. And what they plan to do about it.

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