Pacific’s government is broken.
Mayor Cy Sun and a frustrated City Council can no longer coexist.
This forced marriage calls for a divorce.
As Abraham Lincoln, borrowing a line from the Bible, once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
If Pacific’s leadership cannot get together and play nice, something’s got to give.
In this case, Sun should do the honorable thing and resign.
The problem isn’t just the tyrannical nature of Sun’s ways, it is partly a stymied City Council’s unwillingness to work with an 82-year-old mayor, a political outsider, who has expressed little interest in the democratic process. The council cannot work with a confrontational man who prefers to do things his own way – quick and removed from the slow, often difficult governmental process.
The seven-member council and the City police employees union officially gave the mayor a vote of no confidence in April. The council never fully embraced Sun, a write-in candidate who pulled off an electoral upset when a good chunk of apathetic Pacific voters wasn’t looking.
There was never a honeymoon. The climate quickly deteriorated. The political infighting began.
A flustered, angry Sun walked out of heated meetings. Council members and community volunteers grew frustrated, disillusioned.
Ugly episodes marked the following months.
Sun fired the police chief.
Sun’s own police force arrested him for trespassing at City Hall in a reality-TV spectacle. Prior to the arrest, Sun had locked the city clerk out of her office.
A woman made a splash, claiming Sun had molested her as a child. She quietly dropped her lawsuit.
A ruling reinstated the police chief.
And now, a citizens-led recall is in motion.
The trouble is that Sun fears no one, trusts only a chosen few. How can Pacific trust a stubborn man, a highly decorated war veteran fighting a phantom enemy?
And when is Pacific going to move ahead? When was the last time it did something constructive for itself?
Can this hamlet tend to business instead of power plays?
When can a divided community, known to voice its discontent with past mayoral administrations, come to its senses? When can the separate camps stop sniping at each other, filling the wind with allegations, rumors and gossip that are characteristic of a Mayberry Gone Bad?
True to what he said during the campaign, Sun threw the ax, fired key staff and emptied City Hall. He left it full of vacancies, crippling the City and rendering it unable to provide basic services. Sun wanted to serve at no cost to the people. He wanted to put his own people in place but wound up producing a mess, a dysfunctional City prone to trouble, even lawsuits.
As one old-timer put it the other day, “Pacific has become a laughingstock in Olympia.”
The embarrassment can be further illustrated by what happened when Pacific, stripped of vital staff oversight, could no longer carry on the crucial Pacific-Sumner City Valentine Road project. To avoid the collapse of the project, the City Council agreed to enter a new inter-local agreement with Sumner, allowing the neighboring City to provide the lead entity role to see the project through.
Throughout this ongoing nine-month drama, Sun has refused to listen to good advice.
He has failed to fill those vacancies, creating a crisis not lost on the Pierce County Superior Court, which has ordered the mayor to begin the hiring process and fill spots in city hall and staff a depleted police department or face severe consequences.
If Sun cannot play by certain rules, he further endangers the City, forcing it to lose its liability insurance coverage. If he cannot respect the required regulations and procedures customary for all cities in this state to function, he puts it at risk.
If Sun cannot comply in time, the City, weary of controversy, remains an accident ready to happen.
Sun was an extraordinary soldier who experienced and survived the horrors of the Korean War. His record speaks for itself. His body is scarred with shrapnel.
He is a self-made, skilled man who courageously tackles everything head on. Respect him for that.
Change can be for the better, but this is a teardown without a workable plan or a good solution.
Sun wants to serve, help and lead.
The recall is his latest battle.
And one he says he will fight to the very end.
At Pacific’s expense.