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EDITORIAL: How one man is dismantling the City of Pacific [The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)]

By The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Dec. 14--Elections have consequences, as the people of Pacific have learned to their sorrow.

Last fall, mayoral candidate Cy Sun made a stink about supposed corruption at City Hall. The political novice persuaded 464 citizens to cast write-in votes for him; he wound up winning with a 64-vote plurality in a three-way race.

Since then, Sun has single-handedly almost destroyed the small city. Literally.

The chaos he wrought upon the little municipality -- including the firing of much of its staff and almost half of its Police Department -- has so spooked its insurer that the company is about to drop Pacific's liability coverage. The company reportedly has refused all requests for an extension as long as Sun is mayor.

The policy will expire as of the end of this month unless Sun leaves -- and he is defying all requests that he do so. Without a renewal or extension of coverage, city workers -- including police officers -- would become personally exposed to lawsuits.

The City Council has little choice but to prepare to dissolve its own jurisdiction -- either by letting Auburn annex Pacific or disincorporating outright. The annexation vote is scheduled for Monday.

One man destroys a city of 6,600 people in less than 12 months. This deserves a chapter in a civics textbook. We've never seen anything like it.

The defining moment of Sun's administration happened July 19, when he tried to break into the locked city clerk's office, allegedly to destroy city records.

He fired the officers who arrested him. He terminated the city clerk for good measure; she is now pressing a $2.2 million claim against the city. He fired or drove out other managers without hiring replacements.

Sun didn't merely throw a wrench in the machinery of city government; he emptied the whole Sears inventory into it.

There is a simple solution, obvious to everyone else: He could resign.

No such luck. Instead he is battling what has become a furious campaign to recall him.

Given the real possibility that Pacific may cease to exist early next year, you have to wonder. If Sun stepped down, the crisis would end, and the city would survive. If Sun doesn't step down and the city collapsed, he'd still lose his office. If he stays and Pacific somehow survived, the recall is bound to catch up with him.

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Any way it happens, he's soon to be Pacific's ex-mayor. The only question is, will he take the city down with him?


(c)2012 The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.)

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