Letters to the Editor

For accountability, try the truth | Federal Way letters

I have received politically driven postcard mailings before, but never one so loaded with unsubstantiated claims and downright falsehoods as the card from Accountability Comes to Town (ACT) that was in my mailbox today.

The proponents of the elected mayor campaign are hoping to hide behind slogans despite the real motivation of its leader: A desire to run for the full-time mayor position at a very large salary, plus the usual benefits and a $500-a-month car allowance.

Thankfully, Federal Way voters are too smart to fall for the snake oil ACT is trying to sell. They tell us 82 percent of Washington cities and our neighbors Auburn, Kent and Renton are saving millions of dollars each year with elected mayors. Really? Not according to the Association of Washington City and County Employee 2009 Salary and Benefit Survey. Of the seven cities with populations between 68,000 and 108,000, including Federal Way, four of the seven have strong mayors. Each of these strong mayor cities has some kind of city manager or chief administrative officer in addition. Mayor salaries range from $102,192 to $154,956. Federal Way is the beneficiary of a real bargain for both mayor and city manager salaries combined at $170,028. Only Auburn, with a smaller population than Federal Way, ranks lower in actual cost of administration. The fact is the majority of Washington cities with elected mayors have populations of 5,000 or less. They don’t have millions to waste.

The Federal Way Police Guild is supporting Prop. 1 because it wants to see increases in pay for its members at a time when the city is forced to lay off staff at City Hall due to declining revenues caused by the recession. Staff members that remain have taken a 2 percent pay cut across the board. Our police salaries have not been touched. Their pay goes on as before. And they want more. At least that’s what the president of the police guild asserts in a message to his union members: “We are currently cut off from the city manager and have no leverage with one.” John Clary, guild president, adds: “A mayor has to be approachable or face consequences with the media and public because they are in an elected position. This gives the guild more options to flex our political muscles.”

Finally, we have no permanent city manager because ACT chose to put Prop. 1 on the ballot, forcing the search committee to cease interviewing and hiring a professional city manager. No qualified professional would consider applying for a position that was not a legitimate offer of employment. No ethical city council would authorize such a fruitless candidate search.

Tell ACT to get its alleged facts straight. They want accountability? How about starting with the truth?

Barbara Reid, Federal Way

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