Black Diamond should lose its outside influence | Letter to the Editor

Some points from the last Feb. 4 Black Diamond Council meeting.

While having a quorum on a council committee may not be illegal if properly noticed per RCW 42.30, there are still serious conflicts of interest if this were to actually occur in the small town of Black Diamond. Having three members of a five member board on a standing committee makes no sense. If the legislation were to be approved by the standing committee it would be an empty gesture to request approval from the other two members of council (because you already have the three votes required to pass it). This is just a blatant attempt to pass a specific agenda and keep two members of council from having any say in city matters.

There are people behind the scenes pulling the strings of certain council members. I urge those council members to dig deep and re-establish their dignity and integrity and start listening to the residents of Black Diamond and stop letting the opinions of others spill forth when they open their mouths. People of Bellevue, Issaquah or unincorporated King County did not vote you into office. The residents of Black Diamond did. It is time for you to cut your puppet masters’ strings and think for yourself. It is time to begin to acknowledge who you serve while sitting on that dais.

I witnessed a member of the audience coaching a council member on what to say during the meeting. This is absolutely damaging to that council member’s integrity and honor. I find it disturbing and simply unprofessional. I do not think that particular council member formulated and expressed a single idea that had not previously been provided by an outside party. I find that action shameful and not in the best interest of the residents of Black Diamond. Also, the idea of “do pass” or “no pass” for legislation or any other item of city business is an unnecessary extra step in the process of streamlined government. Yes, citizens want and are entitled to open and accessible government, but not to the degree it inhibits the city’s ability to perform its duties in a timely manner. This means that council members need to be prepared for council meetings (something I observed to be severely lacking in some council members). Do your homework! The agenda is prepared and published nearly a week ahead of time. And doing your homework is not that hard. It is accomplished by meeting with city staff to receive recommendations on projects and fiduciary responsibilities prior to the council meetings. Staff are your subject matter experts. First term council members do not have the expertise or institutional knowledge required to make decisions without their assistance. Let staff do what they get paid to do.

Additionally, it is a fundamentally bad idea to start deliberating on whether or not the city should accept non-matching grant funds. Discussion about the funds can be conducted after the funds are received. And to question why some of the money is set aside for administrative purposes illustrates a deep lack of knowledge regarding government operations. It is the individual council member’s duty to become acquainted with federal, state and local policies, procedures and rules. By not doing so you are actually damaging the very people who entrusted you to protect them.

It is time to cut the outside influences loose and think on your own. Black Diamond residents deserve better from some of you sitting on that dais.

Jason Seth

Black Diamond