By Martin Barrett.
At the October 23 Burien City Council meeting, Council Member Cydney Moore hijacked the policy decision process to insert her own agenda. The council meeting agenda included a presentation by Chris Craig, Burien Economic Development Manager. It was to be followed by public comment. He finished his presentation by stating that the staff needed more time to gather data and interview the various parties who would be affected by a new minimum wage policy.
However, CM C. Moore immediately raised her hand to speak and put forward a motion instructing the city manager to develop a proposal based on the Unincorporated King County’s framework. The policy she directed to staff as the basis for a Burien policy does not exist. Unincorporated King County is in the early stages of development. Burien News has learned that there has been very little research or conversations with the potentially impacted stakeholders.
After Cydney Moore spent the five minutes, each council member was allowed to speak before yielding the Dias to another council member, but the City Manager spoke up and clarified that this was not the time for a motion; a presentation was already scheduled. Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling stated his objection to the process as it was on the agenda; the public was unaware a motion would be introduced. Council Member Jimmy Matta noted that a good policy for another place does not [necessarily] mean it is good for Burien. Additionally, he stated that it put the values of King County ahead of the work of the Business and Economic Development Partnership (BEDP), which can better represent the needs of Burien.
The meeting took a recess to decide on how to move forward. Upon reconvening, the Council dialoged for another 45 minutes. It took 90 minutes before public testimony was given, almost exclusively on the minimum wage issue. Several commented on the clear message sent by CM Cydney Moore that she was not interested in the concerns residents, business owners, unions, and laborers thought were important. Also, a significant number of those signed up to testify, including restaurant owners, could not stay due to the long delay and lost their opportunity to speak to the full council.
CM Stephanie Mora stated she was against any minimum wage legislation. As an example, she shared the negative impact of minimum wage on her previous employment. CM Mora communicated her belief such policies are bad for workers who experience a reduction in hours or loss of a job.
This was echoed by those representing the restaurants. Entry-level jobs disappear as unskilled and inexperienced labor cannot deliver the value their wages require. Several restauranteurs report closing for breakfast or lunch as margins were thin and wages made opening futile.
Other issues, including zoning around facilities like Mary’s Place and shelter properties, were not given the time needed due to the unplanned C. Moore agenda.