Opinion

Forum: Changing Federal Way's form of government

ACT reacts to debate outcry

There has been a huge misunderstanding.

It was Accountability Comes to Town’s original expressed intention to have a debate on the elected mayor issue on Jan. 13. Part of the reason was the fact that I was going to be out of town on Jan. 16, the date of the debate. As a working person and truck driver, my job takes me out of town four days a week.

The Jan. 13 date was chosen also because we thought more people could attend a debate held on a Sunday rather than mid-week. These facts were stated to The Mirror in October and again during our informational presentation at Decatur High School on Nov. 18. By the way, ACT spent thousands of dollars to present to the people of Federal Way an unbiased discussion on the two forms of city government at that event.

We were originally told that the Jan. 16 debate was going to be separate from any debate sponsored by ACT. The assumption was that ACT would have nothing to do with it. OK. I had made it clear that I could not attend a Jan. 16 debate. But we were told that the date would not be changed.

As for the claim that members of ACT were mysteriously “absent” from the debate, I have to tell you that some of them were of course in attendance. The fact that they were not introduced is another matter.

The Hardisons were asked by ACT to participate in the debate. The fact that they were not speaking “as ACT” board members has been blown out of proportion. The bottom line here is the fact that they are concerned citizens — like the 3,200 others who signed the petition for change. Period.

Because of this lack of communication, and other errors that have occurred, some have now made the subject of electing our mayor into a “where was ACT” issue. Please do not buy into this spin. Readers, you’re smarter than that. You’re smart enough to see through the latest attempts to block change. Did you also read the article (by a regular columnist) about how anybody and his dog could be mayor? They really do think you’re not intelligent enough to vote for the qualified individual who will represent you.

Roy Parke, ACT president, Federal Way

Editor’s note: The following statement was e-mailed Nov. 20 from The Mirror to an ACT spokesman regarding the debate: “I want to clarify that the Jan. 16 debate is sponsored by The Mirror and FW Chamber. The debate is independent of ACT. As details of the debate unfold in the following weeks, know that ACT can participate in the debate dialogue, but will not be involved in the debate’s format/planning/organization.” Also, to view a video clip from the debate in which Frosty and Gayla Hardison discuss their connection to ACT, visit www.youtube.com/

federalwaymirror/.

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Tacoma is no role model

Those who envision Tacoma’s mayoral form of government for Federal Way (“Tacoma’s form of government sparks interest in Federal Way,” Jan. 19) should drive along that city’s streets.

For example, follow South Tacoma Way through Nalley Valley. There are more potholes in any two-block stretch of that main thoroughfare than in all of Federal Way.

Ted Nelson, Federal Way

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Objective observation

Alas, since I live about 500 feet outside Federal Way’s city limits, in that hotbed of anti-annexation sentiment known as The Eastside, the outcome of the current hoo-ha about strong mayor city government vs. council-manager city government isn’t ever going to affect me.

So maybe I can be “objective.”

The applicable engineering-world maxim is “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Chuck Hastings, Federal Way

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Council connections

Of course, Jim Burbidge debated Jan. 16 against having a “strong mayor” for Federal Way. His wife, Jeanne Burbidge, is on the Federal Way City Council, and at some point in time, if on the council long enough, could be appointed by the other members as mayor.

I’m sorry I missed this debate, because I think there were more questions than answers by the “against an elected mayor” debate team.

How many remember the loss of 50 acres of property that was removed from our property tax rolls not too long ago? It was the Federal Way City Council and their appointed mayor, at the urging of Mary Gates, who was on the Federal Way City Council at the time, to change the zoning from commercial, so the property could be sold by Weyerhaeuser and have a religious organization buy up the 50 acres.

Pat Gee, Federal Way

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Accountability at the debate

Let me see if I have this right. With two months’ advance notice, Roy Parke, Dave McKenzie, Norma Blanchard, Tara Talley, Diana Parke or Clara McArthur, all board of directors members of Accountability Comes to Town (ACT), could not be available to represent ACT at the Jan. 16 debate sponsored by The Mirror and Federal Way Chamber of Commerce?

The accountability standard ACT demands from others should apply to them and they should be held accountable for this gross failure. They are costing taxpayers a lot of money for an election on a matter they started, yet they feel they don’t have a responsibility to explain face to face to the public.

Dave McKenzie, who has written letter after letter on this subject, apparently believes his homeowners meeting is more important than his effort to change the form of government in the city. Clara McArthur, who always has something to say about everything, can only do it when she doesn’t have to look anybody in the eye or answer questions about her negative and nasty comments.

To watch the cocky, sarcastic presentation by Frosty Hardison and his wife, Gayla, representing no one but themselves should be clear to most Federal Way voters why they should vote no. I think most people who attended the debate could see there is a lot more to this issue than it appears.

ACT’s no-show is inexcusable in my opinion. If I disagree with someone, I can respect and trust them if they have the intestinal fortitude to look me in the eye and explain their position. ACT does not fall in that category.

L.T. Coleman, Federal Way

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Debate leads to a decision

Earlier in the month when asked where I stood on the “elected mayor” issue, I said I would wait until the Jan. 16 public debate to make my decision.

Given what was presented, I am definitely for Federal Way Works and keeping the current council-manager configuration.

There was no literature for the pro elected mayor side, but several pieces for the council-manager side. It spoke volumes to me that there was no one present to represent Accountability Comes to Town, the sponsor of the elected mayor side. OK, one person was out of town and the other had a meeting. Are there only two people in the ACT group?

So two other people who happen to agree with ACT, but who are not part of that group, were there to represent the interests of ACT. In fact, I almost felt cheated because I expected to hear well-positioned ideas from each side. Instead, I got one side and a “substitute.”

One argument of the elected mayor side is that people will have someone to finally represent them. I just voted in the council election and voted for two people I believe will represent me. And the election before that, I voted for two other council members who also represent me. I’m way ahead of the game here. We won’t “lose the opportunity to have someone represent us” by keeping the council-manager configuration. We already have the opportunity to be represented by seven people. And if I’m not happy about what they are doing, I will exercise my vote to get them off the council. If we have an elected mayor, I will have to live with the person elected for four years if I’m unhappy. It takes a lot of time and money to unseat an elected mayor.

The elected mayor people said a mayor is better because they would have a platform to run on. When the last few people ran for City Council, they had very clear statements in the campaign literature about what they represent. What is that but a platform?

The council-manager representatives offered some good statistics, comparing cities of like-size and age, and a much more meaningful statement that made good sense. The elected mayor folks had lots of innuendo, but few hard facts that they presented at the debate, other than we can read this or that to see what they mean.

I guess what put me over the edge was a final statement by the elected mayor people that the council-manager form of government is against the concept of democracy in the United States. What??

Linda Purlee, Federal Way

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