The facts always matter

It’s also disappointing that Mr. Roegner continually uses this as a mark against the city.

Editor’s Note: Regarding the following letter, the Mirror editor clarified a sentence in Bob Roegner’s Dec. 20 column to reflect that former Rep. Kristine Reeves was the source of information regarding the city’s communication with the state Commerce Department. The Mirror determined there were no innaccuracies and stands by Roegner’s column.

We at the city are glad the Mirror staff made time to sit down with city staff for an interview about the state funding the city recently recaptured for the buildout of the full kitchen at the Performing Arts and Event Center and how it relates to the Culinary Arts Program.

The mechanics and intricacies of municipalities requesting funding from the state or the federal government can at times be complicated for both the average citizen and seasoned professionals to understand.

While the news staff of the Mirror accurately laid out the details behind the funding and the culinary program in last week’s story, the same cannot be said for columnist Bob Roegner.

In Mr. Roegner’s column on Dec. 20, he claims that “legislators had only recently learned” that the city had used the requested funds to complete the kitchen. This is a false assertion.

This funding ask to the state has been on the city’s Legislative agenda since late 2017. Along with Rep. Kristine Reeves, Mr. Roegner attended the 2018 Legislative breakfast the city hosted where this topic was discussed openly with our legislators. Additionally, a simple request to the city for a copy of recent legislative agendas would have corrected his perceived timeline.

Instead, Mr. Roegner chose not to confirm his facts and pressed on with his column prior to the news story being published.

In the same column, Mr. Roegner also claims Reeves said the city asked the Department of Commerce to “repurpose the money toward the construction loan.” That claim is false. We never asked Commerce to repurpose the money. We spent the money exactly how we said we always said we were going to spend it. The state money was for the construction loan from the very start, as the Mirror’s news story details. The only thing we asked for from Reeves was help fixing the language related to the specificity of items, and that has since been worked out with Commerce.

Had Mr. Roegner bothered to follow up with the city after talking to the former state representative to investigate her claims, he would have concluded that the money was always intended for the construction of the kitchen, not for the setup of the program for the Culinary Arts Institute.

He also continues to include in his columns that the mayor “tried to spend (state) money in a different legislative district in Burien.” This is a misrepresentation of the truth that he routinely weaves into his copy without any further context. The $100,000 from the state he is referring to was meant to help homeless mothers and children in Federal Way during the worst snowstorm in nearly 100 years, in 2019. As with many human services programs, immediate resources at brick-and-mortar facilities can serve regions — not just the city where they have a postal address. This was the case with Mary’s Place, which was going to use the $100,000 (which could not be used for capital improvements) for Federal Way families who could not get those services within city limits.

We at the city were extremely disappointed that this agreement did not come to fruition, and that homeless mothers and children had nowhere to go in February during the coldest time of the year. It’s also disappointing that Mr. Roegner continually uses this as a mark against the city.

We acknowledge there is a delay in the start of the Culinary Arts Institute, but this is something we don’t want to rush. We want to build something stable and sustainable that will be able to serve the community through several generations.

The facts always matter, and parading out false information under the guise of opinion poisons the water in this community.

If Mr. Roegner fails to acknowledge his mistakes in his own words, we at the city will gladly continue to do it for him.

Tyler Hemstreet

Communications coordinator