POLL: SeaTac City Council Approves $245,000 Software Upgrade, More
By Nicholas Johnson
Tuesday’s SeaTac city council meeting saw the approval of a nearly $245,000 software upgrade, the preservation of a recently vacated Parks Department operations maintenance worker position, the approval of extra costs associated with an upgrade in robotic camera systems used to record council meetings and the approval of an emergency repair of an existing retaining wall along International Blvd. Overall, the council approved the city’s expenditure of $263,168.
System’s Administrator Bart Perman asked the council, for the second time, to authorize Interim City Manager Todd Cutts to contract with CRW Systems for permitting software replacement. Since the previous meeting, on Jan. 11, Councilmember Rick Forschler reviewed alternatives with Perman. Forschler said he came away feeling that the CRW Systems package was not cost affective. For more background on this item, see The SeaTac Blog’s coverage the council’s Jan. 11 meeting.
“I’m still not convinced that CRW is the best product for us,” Forschler said. “I think there’s more analysis we could do to determine whether or not it really makes sense to use Cityworks or some other product. We know that the going price for Cityworks is considerably less – $100,000 or more less than CRW. I think it bears more consideration before we jump into using CRW.”
When Mayor Terry Anderson asked what he found in his review of alternatives, Forschler said, “I do think we need to spend a little more time considering Cityworks because we know that one is considerably less expensive. If we are looking to buy something at this point when the trends are going to change in the near future, it would probably be better to opt for a lower cost alternative rather than spend a lot of money on something that’s going to be obsolete in a short period of time.”
The council approved the motion to allow Cutts to contract with CRW Systems 5-1 with Councilmember Tony Anderson absent.
Kit Ledbetter, Parks and Recreation Director, asked the council to allow City Manager Cutts to fill a recently vacated parks operations maintenance position, which is funded through the previously approved 2011 General Fund. That 2011 budget cut the operations maintenance crew from seven to six, and Ledbetter argued the potential loss of another position would leave too much acreage for the remaining five employees to maintain.
“Over my 15 years there has never been a more significant impact to parks operation than this,” Ledbetter said. “This is the most impacted of anything we’ve ever done. So this is important.”
Ledbetter suggested that if the vacated position were not filled, the city may want to consider selling off some of its parkland. However, after some joking about how Ledbetter always gets his way, the council unanimously approved the filling of that vacated position.
Full details about Tuesday’s agenda items can be found here. Below is a summation of the council’s actions as recorded and distributed by e-mail by the city clerk.
The following Council actions were taken at the January 25, 2011 Regular Council Meeting:
$5,000 – $35,000 Purchase Requests for the period ended January 21, 2011:
Passed: Compatible upgrades to use with new Robotic Cameras – $3,269
Passed: Retaining Wall Repair – $15,714
Passed: Peer Review of Sound Transit Parking Demand Study – $10,500
The following Council Meeting Minutes were approved:
Administration and Finance Committee Meeting held January 11, 2011.
Regular Council Meeting held January 11, 2011.
Agenda Bill #3259; Motion authorizing the City Manager to enter into a contract with CRW Systems for permitting software replacement was carried and became effective January 25, 2011.
Agenda Bill #3295; Motion approving filling the vacated budgeted Parks Operations Maintenance Worker position was carried and became effective January 25, 2011.
Unlawful council member support
At the end of the Jan. 11 meeting, Council members Ralph Shape and Mia Gregerson spoke in support of the Highline School District’s levy, which is currently on the Feb. 8 ballot. Some in community raised concern that such support violated RCW 42.17.130, which is quoted below.
Shape said, “I know the attorney is going to be upset with me, but we heard about the school levy here tonight. We are not supposed to take a position for or against, however I can take a position personally. I intend to support that levy. I think educating our children is probably the most important thing we can do. We’re all going to get old eventually and it’s the children who will be running this show. So, it’s important that that school levy pass.”
Gregerson said, “I too support the levy. Personally, I think that our children are our succession planning for the future and our leaders, and we really need to be able to provide the tools for them to live and thrive.”
In the days after the meeting, SeaTac resident Earl Gipson submitted a formal complaint to the state’s Public Disclosure Commission regarding expression of council member support for the Highline School District’s replacement levy. He informed the council of his actions at the Jan. 25 meeting.
When asked if they had any response to concerns that they had violated state code, Shape and Gregerson had this to say:
Gregerson said, “I didn’t know that I was going to be out of compliance with the PDC. I feel very strongly for our school system and I recognize the economic development around that. I thought that by stating it as a personal issue rather than a city-wide issue, I thought that I was being compliant. I do apologize for that, and I will definitely be more careful in the future.”
Shape said, “I would say it again because it’s an important issue. I regret that the council hasn’t supported it through a resolution.”
The language and legislative interpretation of the state code is quoted below.
Use of public office or agency facilities in campaigns — Prohibition — Exceptions.
No elective official nor any employee of his [or her] office nor any person appointed to or employed by any public office or agency may use or authorize the use of any of the facilities of a public office or agency, directly or indirectly, for the purpose of assisting a campaign for election of any person to any office or for the promotion of or opposition to any ballot proposition. Facilities of a public office or agency include, but are not limited to, use of stationery, postage, machines, and equipment, use of employees of the office or agency during working hours, vehicles, office space, publications of the office or agency, and clientele lists of persons served by the office or agency. However, this does not apply to the following activities:
(1) Action taken at an open public meeting by members of an elected legislative body or by an elected board, council, or commission of a special purpose district including, but not limited to, fire districts, public hospital districts, library districts, park districts, port districts, public utility districts, school districts, sewer districts, and water districts, to express a collective decision, or to actually vote upon a motion, proposal, resolution, order, or ordinance, or to support or oppose a ballot proposition so long as (a) any required notice of the meeting includes the title and number of the ballot proposition, and (b) members of the legislative body, members of the board, council, or commission of the special purpose district, or members of the public are afforded an approximately equal opportunity for the expression of an opposing view;
(2) A statement by an elected official in support of or in opposition to any ballot proposition at an open press conference or in response to a specific inquiry;
(3) Activities which are part of the normal and regular conduct of the office or agency.
[2006 c 215 § 2; 1979 ex.s. c 265 § 2; 1975-'76 2nd ex.s. c 112 § 6; 1973 c 1 § 13 (Initiative Measure No. 276, approved November 7, 1972).]
Finding — Intent — 2006 c 215: “(1) The legislature finds that the public benefits from an open and inclusive discussion of proposed ballot measures by local elected leaders, and that for twenty-five years these discussions have included the opportunity for elected boards, councils, and commissions of special purpose districts to vote in open public meetings in order to express their support of, or opposition to, ballot propositions affecting their jurisdictions.
(2) The legislature intends to affirm and clarify the state’s long-standing policy of promoting informed public discussion and understanding of ballot propositions by allowing elected boards, councils, and commissions of special purpose districts to adopt resolutions supporting or opposing ballot propositions.” [2006 c 215 § 1.]
Disposition of violations before January 1, 1995: “Any violations occurring prior to January 1, 1995, of any of the following laws shall be disposed of as if chapter 154, Laws of 1994 were not enacted and such laws continued in full force and effect: RCW 42.17.130, chapter 42.18 RCW, chapter 42.21 RCW, and chapter 42.22 RCW.” [1994 c 154 § 226.]
Below is the language of Earl Gipson’s complaint.
January 20, 2011
TO: Tony Perkins-Public Disclosure Commission
RE: Intentional Violation of RCW 42.17.130 by City of SeaTac Council Members Gregerson and Shape
Dear Mr. Perkins,
With my statements herein, I am filing a formal complaint against SeaTac Council members Ralph Shape and Mia Gregerson for violation of RCW 42.17.130 on January 12, 2011. In my opinion, the statute clearly states that their comments at the end of the Council meeting regarding endorsement of the Highline School district levy ballot issue violates the statute.
If my interpretation of the statute, per the video recording is incorrect, I will withdraw my complaint. I personally attended this Council meeting.
I ask the SeaTac City Attorney, Mary Bartolo (copied on this email) to provide to the PDC the correct link to the video of the subject video/violation of the 01/12/11 Council Meeting via SeaTV or other means.
Council Member Shape, in his preface to his statement endorsing the levy also provides notice and knowledge that he would violate the law by his subsequent statement.
Council member Gregerson is also clearly aware that she was violating the law with her statement following Council member Shape’s.
The blatant disregard for the statute should not be ignored and the above Council members, sanctioned, fined, and any other disciplinary actions as allowed by law and appropriate documentation regarding any actions. I do ask if a fine is so imposed that it be stipulated that it come from their own personal funds and not paid by the City under any interpretation of indemnification. In no way should the taxpayers of our City pay for the ramifications of their unilateral actions.
Thank you for you attention to this matter. Please copy me on any actions, forward as you see fit, and let me know if you need further input from me.