Mayor Ferrell: The whole story paints a different picture

The great Mark Twain once said: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

There is a lot of false information spreading throughout our community during a very pivotal time.

As mayor of Federal Way, I have no choice but to respond to Bob Roegner’s opinion column titled “What could possibly go wrong at Federal Way City Hall?”

As the Federal Way Mirror is, at this moment in time, our city’s paper of record, it is imperative that I address these claims because many are not accurate. Passing along rumors without regard for the complete story is counterproductive and only serves to divide our community. It also chips away and jeopardizes the relationship built on truth and accuracy the city has maintained over the years with the Mirror.

• There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that we are considering selling the Dumas Bay Center. It is a valued city treasure and will stay so as long as I am mayor. We have told Mr. Roegner this several times.

• I was proud to open the State of the City address to the public for no fee. It was a huge victory for transparency and openness of government. The Performing Arts and Event Center was at capacity, and the lobby was filled with representatives from our city departments and local governments with tables of information while being available to answer questions and promote services. And to say that closing City Hall was illegal when our legal counsel greenlighted the action since we were taking City Hall services to the people, is also unfounded in fact.

• It’s unfortunate that Mr. Roegner continues to lay blame at the feet of the elected officials for the decisions set by an independent salary commission. The process is independent of our city government and would, as alleged, be illegal and immoral to have public officials have any influence on the setting of those salaries.

• Helping transition Centerstage to not be dependent on the city coffers was a responsible and good business practice on behalf of the taxpayers. It is a private organization that was receiving funding for the last nine years – last year’s allocation was $100,000. That money will be put to better use in order to have a balanced budget proposal for 2019-21.

• The water excise tax has been proposed and discussed for some time and was part of the original budget proposed for 2016-18. Our water provider is the only utility that functions in the city that does not pay an excise tax for city services provided. The $1 million will be generated annually and makes our budget sustainable for years to come. And, after careful deliberation and resident input, 5 out of 7 council members approved the measure.

• When it comes to school safety, to not exercise basic journalism protocol and assume that whether or not officials attend a rally about school shootings constitutes inaction is false. Our police department has been working hand in glove to make schools safe. Ray Gross, the city’s emergency management manager, has been working with the school district to assess its methods, protocols and training when it comes to active shooter scenarios. Also, current interpretations of the 2nd Amendment limit the role of a city in control of weapons.

As residents of Federal Way, you deserve the truth.

I’m proud of the direction the city is headed. Every day, our city council, staff members, and various volunteers work hard to do what is best for the community. Unfortunately, as readers you are bombarded with the challenges and opportunities – routinely short on important facts that convey context — that are written by an opinion columnist, not an objective journalist trained in investigative journalism.

As the newspaper has chosen to tell you about your city with an opinion columnist on a paid contract, we will take every opportunity to correct the facts until balanced journalism returns to coverage of our city.

If you’d like to contact me to discuss these facts in more detail, my door is always open. You may call or email me at any time, because as Mayor, I work for you.

Jim Ferrell, Mayor of Federal Way