City Council, union cast vote of no confidence in Pacific mayor

Pacific Mayor Cy Sun listens to comments from the City Council regarding his performance. The council and a union representing the City
Pacific Mayor Cy Sun listens to comments from the City Council regarding his performance. The council and a union representing the City's police force issued a vote of no confidence in the mayor.
— image credit: Mark Klaas/Auburn Reporter

Tensions have ratcheted up between Pacific's unpopular mayor and its frustrated City Council.

In the latest twist to this ongoing drama, the seven-member council and the City police employees union officially gave Mayor Cy Sun a vote of no confidence at a heated City Council meeting Monday night.

"Your unprofessional demeanor, outbursts, slanders of citizens, organizations, business owners, other city representatives, council members as a top representative for the City has been an embarrassment," Mayor Pro Tem John Jones read from the motion's statement. "Your ill-mannered, uncivil, demanding, intimidating demeanor has created a hostile workplace for City employees."

The council unanimously passed the motion of non-confidence, 7-0.

Angered at times, Sun stood silent as he heard the claims. Later, as the council was finishing its business, he quietly left the meeting.

"The whole council is against me," a disgusted Sun said as he left his chair. "I can't do anything. You take over."

Much has changed since Sun took office more than 16 weeks ago. The 82-year-old Sun, a highly decorated Korean War veteran, vowed to "clean house," lower staff costs and end "corruption." He subsequently fired staff and forced others, notably the public works director, city engineer and finance director, to resign.

Sun also placed Police Chief John Calkins on paid administrative leave for misconduct stemming from an argument following the Jan. 3 City Council meeting.

On Monday, Sgt. Jim Pickett, a 25-year-veteran, replaced Ed Massey, who was acting chief in Calkins' absence. Calkins, according to city officials, remains on leave.

In wake of the changes and Sun's handling of matters, members of Local Team 117 responded. It concludes that Sun is "ineffective as a leader," according to union representative Mark Manning, who read a summary of his group's findings to the council.

Teamster Local 117 "expresses their dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in leadership," Manning said, adding that Sun has "shown no signs of positive change" since he took office in January.

Furthermore, the union concluded, Sun does not understand how the police department operates.

"Mayor Sun's lack of skills associated with leadership in general shows no willingness to learn any matters relating to City government, totally lacks in personal communication skills, does not show any transparency and direction, does not show any interest in ... organization," the union stated. "He has been criticizing enforcement actions conducted by police officers without asking about the details (or) conducting any research into the matter.

"... Mayor Sun is a profound believer in the 'my way or the highway,'" approach, union members said, adding that Sun has created a "realm of fear, (with City employees) under the threat of being terminated."

An impatient City Council also voiced its disapproval.

As Jones explained, supporting evidence has compelled the council members "to see that (Sun's) tenure as mayor of the City of Pacific, though short, has been an eroding, degrading, detrimental and costly endeavor."

Such a working relationship, council members say, has jeopardized grant-enhanced projects, including the ongoing Valentine Road/136th Avenue corridor improvements.

Vacancies remain

The dismissal of key department heads without replacing them with qualified personnel, and inaction, have put the City in a vulnerable position with the project, the council summed up.

Without an administrative staff, the City recently lost a $15,000 low-income home repair grant, Jones said.

"This action has put the City on the brink of failure of the cooperative Pacific-Sumner City Valentine Road project by not having anyone overseeing and administrating to our City's needs, and not meeting current requirements," Jones said.

To avoid the collapse of the Valentine Road/136th Avenue project, the City Council has agreed to enter a new inter-local agreement with the City of Sumner, allowing the neighboring city to provide the lead entity role to see the project through.

Both cities determined that it is in the best interest of the project for Sumner to lead the way, ensuring that the project will be finished efficiently while meeting critical milestones and using federal funding.

Sun balked at the new arrangement, saying he has the necessary public works team in place to ensure the project gets done on time. Sun claimed Jones is taking the reigns of the project for his own gain.

"Why blame me? The mayor pro tem is trying to get hold of the program and kick me out," Sun said. "Why? I guess they just want me out.

"The program is going to be saved. ... If (the mayor pro tem) runs the program, I think we lose it. He doesn't know enough of what's going on (on Valentine)," Sun said. "The program hasn't fallen on its face. I'm trying to save it.

"(Jones) wants to come in and push me over. I'm the mayor. I'm running the program. If he comes in, I'm going to push him over anyway."

Jones denied Sun's claims.

"As an elected official, I'm making sure we comply with projects," Jones said. "This is not an action to override and take the mayor's job."

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