Mayor Sun got quite a bit of press last week when he was arrested by his own officers. There is more to the story than the media is reporting. It's important that Pacific voters know all the facts.
1: The mayor had announced at a staff meeting the day prior to his
arrest that he is destroying city records. Paula Wiech, associate city planner,
openly questioned his authority to destroy public records at will. There
are very strict laws that govern public agencies regarding public
records and their retention. Sun immediately placed Wiech on
administrative leave. The union stepped in and helped Wiech remain on
Fact 2: After learning that the mayor is
destroying public records (a clear violation of the law), the police
department launched a criminal investigation the day before Sun tried to force his way into the clerk's office. King County Sheriff was
contacted to lead the investigation so there would not be any conflict
Fact 3: Mayor Sun had made no attempt for several weeks prior to his arrest to enter
the office. The clerk serves as personnel manager and access to the city
personnel files are strictly controlled by law. The clerk's office was
declared a potential crime scene (because of the investigation of
destruction of public records) and stabilized well before the mayor let
anyone know he wanted to enter.
Fact 4: Mayor Sun made his first attempt to enter the clerk's office
the same day he learned he was under criminal investigation. He brought
in locksmith Frank Lonergan (former candidate for public office in Auburn) to open the door and showed up with the news camera
with him. The doorway was clearly marked with crime tape and the mayor
was asked repeatedly to not force his way into the office.
5: The chief executive officer does not have the authority to fire an
employee for doing their job. Mayor Sun tried to fire the police
officers who were performing their lawful duty while arresting him. He does not have the
authority to avoid arrest by firing the police officers who repeatedly
asked him not to force his way into an active crime scene. Police officers are not "at-will" employees. Their hiring and firing is governed by federal and state law, Pacific Municipal Code, union contracts and civil service rules.
Under the law, there must be "just cause" before any public employee can be punished for misconduct. If misconduct is alleged, a full investigation must be conducted. If misconduct is established, the employee is entitled to a "Loudermill" hearing prior to the imposition of discipline. This is the employee's chance to present their defense or mitigating circumstances prior to being disciplined. If discipline is to be imposed, employers must adhere to the concept of "progressive discipline." Termination is not the only answer and it is rarely considered. Police officers are no different. They are entitled to a finding of just cause and due process. This is especially important for the police, whose job it is to enforce the law. Employment rules are in place, in part, to prevent abuse of power by over-zealous public officials or others in position of authority.
line, there were other ways for Mayor Sun to accomplish his goal of
access to the clerk's office. It appears he brought the media with him
and he clearly chose to force his way into the office with no notice or
attempt to work out reasonable solution to his request. Mayor Sun's arrest was completely avoidable and within his control.