Week in Review: March 26, 2021
Release Date: 03/27/2021
Hacks & Wonks
Today Crystal is joined by Tiffani McCoy, Advocacy Director at Real Change, to discuss Charter Amendment 29, aka Compassion Seattle. It will appear on your November ballot, and would codify encampment sweeps into our city charter. They discuss the misleading way this amendment is messaged, what the cost of the amendment would be, and why its backers should give us pause.info_outline Week in Review: July 30, 2021
Hacks & Wonks
Today consultant Heather Weiner joins Crystal to provide insight into the final days of primary campaign season, including: optimistic vs pessimistic messaging, a candidate who spelled their own name wrong, and Pete Holmes' interview where he admits to making decisions based on fear of losing endorsements.info_outline The Broken System of Police Oversight with Amy Sundberg and Dr. Shannon Cheng
Hacks & Wonks
Crystal is joined by Amy Sundberg, author of Notes from the Emerald City, and Dr. Shannon Cheng, Chair of People Power Washington to talk about public safety in Seattle and King County. They also discuss the People Power Washington Voter Guide that details where Seattle and King County candidates stand on public safety issues.info_outline Week in Review: July 23, 2021
Hacks & Wonks
Today on the show, Marco Lowe, Professor at Seattle University’s Institute for Public Service, joins Crystal to discuss recent polls that have come out about Seattle’s mayoral, city council, and city attorney races, the importance of understanding poll methodology and margin of error, and our government's responsibility to fight climate change.info_outline Supporting Art and Cultural Space: Conversation with Vivian Hua of NWFF
Hacks & Wonks
Today Crystal is joined by Vivian Hua, Executive Director of the Northwest Film Forum. They discuss Vivian’s path to leadership in the film forum, Vivian’s film Searching Skies, supporting emerging artists in the pandemic, and the need for long-term cultural spaces.info_outline Week in Review: July 16, 2021
Hacks & Wonks
Primary ballots are in mailboxes now! Today former mayor of Seattle and Executive Director of America Walks Mike McGinn joins Crystal to discuss the front runners in the mayor’s race, how candidates need to be making the case to the public in these remaining weeks before the primary, and the psychology and emotion that drives Seattle’s voting decisions.info_outline Seattle, Pay Attention to Pierce County! A Conversation with Pierce County Council Chair Derek Young
Hacks & Wonks
Pierce County Council Chair Derek Young joins Crystal to the differences in funding for transit in King and Pierce counties, how Pierce County is absorbing those who can’t find homes in King County, how the Pierce County Council is investigating police misconduct, and how one governs as a Democrat when there is a real Republican presence.info_outline Week in Review: July 9, 2021
Hacks & Wonks
This week Erica C. Barnett of PubliCola joins Crystal to discuss what’s going on in Seattle’s mayoral race. Additionally, they cover the potential firing of two Seattle Police Department officers who participated in the January 6th insurrection, and the punitive nature of our state's work release program.info_outline Toshiko Hasegawa on the Power of the Port of Seattle
Hacks & Wonks
Today Crystal is joined by Toshiko Hasegawa, candidate for Port of Seattle Commissioner, to discuss how the Port of Seattle can modernize and prepare our region for a greener future. They cover economics and equity, improving air quality and health of South King County residents, and how the Port can encourage fair treatment for workers.info_outline The Brady List: Officers with Credibility Issues
Hacks & Wonks
The Friday Week in Review show will be back next week, as we enjoy the long weekend. We are airing a show with Melissa Santos talking about her excellent reporting on Washington's Brady List.info_outline
This history of police reform in Seattle is long and winding, and today Crystal is joined by former Seattle mayor Mike McGinn to get in to how we got to our present point. Additionally, they cover what may come next in Seattle policing, and how this will affect this year’s mayor’s race.
As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
Read about the city of Seattle needing assistance from the state in order to regulate the police here: https://crosscut.com/news/2020/11/seattle-seeks-states-help-reduce-power-police-unions
Explore a timeline of police accountability and reform in Seattle here: https://www.aclu-wa.org/pages/timeline-seattle-police-accountability
Learn more about Seattle’s current situation with the consent decree here: https://publicola.com/2021/02/05/federal-judge-gives-forecast-for-future-of-seattles-consent-decree/
Find more about Seattle’s city attorney, Pete Holmes, here: https://crosscut.com/politics/2021/02/pete-holmes-seek-fourth-term-seattle-city-attorney
Read about the Seattle PD’s attempt to subpoena journalists recordings last summer here: https://crosscut.com/news/2020/08/seattle-police-subpoena-tests-washingtons-reporter-shield-law
Read the South Seattle Emerald’s profiles of Seattle mayoral candidates here: https://southseattleemerald.com/?s=mayor
Crystal Fincher: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hacks and Wonks. I'm your host, Crystal Fincher. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy through the lens of those doing the work with behind the scenes perspectives on politics in our state. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes.
Today, we're continuing our Friday almost live shows where we review the news of the week with a cohost. Welcome back to the program friend of the show and today's co-host: activist, community leader, former mayor of Seattle and just all-around cool and knowledgeable guy, Mike McGinn. Welcome.
Mike McGinn: [00:00:52] You're awfully nice to me. Also, Executive Director of America Walks - that's my new gig.
Crystal Fincher: [00:00:57] Absolutely. And a cool new gig.
Mike McGinn: [00:01:00] It's a national organization that supports local advocates who are trying to build inclusive, accessible, and equitable communities. So it's a fun new job to be able to support people, you know, who are kind of like me, you know, when I was trying to get sidewalks in my neighborhood, or trying to get better transit service, or trying to get more housing in a neighborhood. I get to support people like that around the country, which is a lot of fun.
Crystal Fincher: [00:01:29] Yeah. And really cool. And I've seen you - I've seen your support of advocates here in Washington which is really useful and necessary. And especially someone who would love more connection and walkability in our neighborhoods. And especially my father is blind and, you know, has been reliant on transit and sidewalks and making sure those connections are safe and accessible. Really appreciate that work 'cause that literally makes the difference between some people being able to go places and live life and not.
But here in Washington on today's show, I wanted to talk with you - you've been through so much and have so much experience and historical knowledge from your time as mayor here in Seattle. And the conversation around policing and specifically around the Seattle Police Officers Guild, known as SPOG - their contract, which is going to be renegotiated here in the near future - has been a hot topic of conversation because we've been talking so much about re-imagining, a word that gets on my nerves, but that is the most relatable word for what we're talking about. Policing here and making changes within the department - we can make changes to the Chief, but a lot of what happens in terms of accountability really is dictated by the contract - and that supersedes what the City or the Chief can do, or has authority over.
So this is a big deal if we want to address the issues that we've seen. And in this past week, we just had another story where a well person check was called in and a 70-something year old man was held at gunpoint, abused, had mobility issues, couldn't stand. They would not help him, let him fall, harassed him - just exactly the opposite of what you want to see. We want resources that come in and help and don't cause harm. And in too many instances, that is not the case. The contract has a lot to do with this. So I guess as we're just starting in the negotiation, what is it like to negotiate that contract?
Mike McGinn: [00:03:49] So we did have a negotiation of the contract when I was mayor, and I guess, the most important thing to understand is the backdrop against which the negotiation occurs - which is that in addition to the contract, there's also civil service protections for the police union that are the same as for any city or state employee. So it's - both of those exist, but there are more specific things - more specific protections that relate to police officers that are found in the agreement.
And under state law, if you cannot reach an agreement with the union on the terms, then it goes to an arbitrator. And the arbitrator is supposed to look at peer cities to determine what the appropriate result should be. And what I was informed is that in practice, the arbitrator that is chosen will tend to trade money for reforms. So, in order to give both sides something - if the City is asking for reforms, then the - then it'll, you know, if it's going to reward a reform, a change to the ability to fire an officer, you know, making it easier to fire an officer, then they're likely to award more money to the officers in pay.
And that's certainly what's put on the table by the union itself in the negotiations. Well, if you want that, how much you gonna pay us for it? So I think you even see in this contract, the latest contract, that there's extra pay if somebody wears a body camera, as an example. So that even tied it together more tightly. But the problem is that the discipline provisions are considered a subject of bargaining, and it's going to go to arbitration, and you're going to be held up against the standard of what other cities are doing, as to what is reasonable to ask for. So that really constrains what you can accomplish.
So it really is a case of going to the Legislature and asking them to change some of those things. So that's one piece of it, you know, and the other piece of it is, and it's not been tested yet, but you know, the judge in the - that's overseeing the consent decree has made noises for the City shouldn't have to pay for reforms. Well, is he going to try to make a ruling to that effect? 'Cause, you know, the union will take that one to court and there'll be litigation over which - what governs the consent decree, and the judge and the consent decree, or national labor relations laws - as to how contract should be bargained.
So the union protections - the ability of having union protections and the ability to bargain - basically starts to prioritize the protection of officers over changes to the rules and reform. Now, again, we got to avoid much of that in my negotiation, because we were in the midst of negotiating the consent decree. So rather than attempt to negotiate into the contract certain reforms, because who knew what the consent decree would call for or what was appropriate? We had a reopener to address consent decree issues, and as part of the consent decree we ultimately gave to the Community Police Commission the responsibility to recommend changes. And my thinking at the time was that then we'll have - we'll know what to ask for.
Crystal Fincher: [00:07:34] Yeah. And so that is good and helpful background. One, just kind of explains how we got into the situation today where police budgets just continue to expand, and another insight into why that has continued to happen, or one of the mechanisms by which that's happened. But also looking at - okay, we're comparing ourselves to other like cities - that seems like that's going to be problematic if Seattle is one of the cities on the forefront of making changes. We're one of only a handful of cities that has reduced funding to any degree, by any percentage, in the country. So, we're almost guaranteeing that we're going to be comparing ourselves to cities who are doing less than we are just because we're out front and trying to address some of these issues. So is that going to work against us?
Mike McGinn: [00:08:32] Yeah. No, that's exactly the issue - that's the challenge. Now, one clarification though, the contract addresses the pay and working conditions of the officers, but it doesn't say how many officers - that's a budget decision that the City can make and does make. Um, regularly, in fact. When I was mayor, we let the police force go down through attrition in the first two years that I was there because we were in the midst of a recession. So we let - we didn't replace officers who left and we moved officers around to fill the gaps. So that's an option today as well if you wanted to reduce the budget - was just have fewer officers.
What we're seeing now, though, is we actually have the judge stepping in, overseeing the consent decree, to say, No, that would be a violation of the consent decree. You have to have more officers. So you now got this frankly bizarre situation in which the judge is saying we need more officers to achieve reform. And you've got the public saying, or portions of the public saying, No, we actually think we should have fewer armed officers doing some of these functions and be moving them to other parts of city government or not doing them at all - responding to someone in crisis, as you mentioned at the front end of this discussion, or whether it's handing out tickets to people, or whether we even need people handing out tickets for jaywalking or not wearing a helmet. Like there's things that off-, that should, that maybe don't need to be priorities anymore for officers. And certainly not for officers carrying a gun.
Crystal Fincher: [00:10:11] Definitely. I think this is a really interesting conversation, especially that element about the judge. It's a more conservative judge who has voiced concerns about some of the reforms and changes that Seattle has wanted to make. And it's impacted decisions that the Council has made. I mean, they've - they have spoken about, Hey, that the judge already said that moving in that direction is the opposite direction that they want to see, even though we personally want to move there. And if we don't come up with a solution that is within bounds of what he deems acceptable, he's going to just throw this out and we're going to wind up with something even worse than we have now. So having to operate within the bounds to make this conservative judge who has authority to accept or reject what Seattle, certainly what the Council does, and what happens with the police department is a challenge.
Another challenge that I don't think has been talked about much is the relationship between the Mayor and the independently elected City Attorney. And a lot of people are used to thinking about the City Attorney in terms of like the Attorney General in that the Executive, whether it's the president or a mayor, they set - they chart a course. They say this is the direction that we're going, and the City Attorney would then defend whatever the direction that the Mayor says we're headed in. So if they're pushing for a reform, or even for something that may be somewhat new and they know is going to encounter some legal challenge, but they're trying to set a precedent - that the City Attorney would be there to defend it.
It's not necessarily the case in Seattle, is that?
Mike McGinn: [00:12:00] No. So here's the deal and, in your example, you said the course that the mayor set. But the City Attorney represents the City. So it might get a little complicated sometimes to figure out the City's position on certain things. But there are processes for doing that. The legislative process, for example, is how we decide what the City's position is on something. The Council debates, the Mayor signs, or vetoes, and it's overridden - like there are ways to get at the City's position on a topic.
I think what's interesting about Pete is that he's decided - Pete Holmes - is that he decided some time ago that, as a separate elected official, he apparently had the authority to decide what the City wanted, meaning the public as a whole, as opposed to the decision - as opposed to the City through its elected representatives and their decision-making process. So it leads to, an interesting - so for years, the Community Police Commission had basically no representation in front of the Court. They were like, Hey, we want to be heard on this. I experienced it myself, like all of a sudden realizing, Oh my God, there's nobody here to - Pete is now in a position to unilaterally decide what is or is not the City's position on litigation - that's what his position was.
So it's weird, you know? 'Cause he represents himself as - his client is the public. Well, how does he know what the public wants? And so therefore he finds himself without a client, essentially, 'cause he can just divine it from within his own head. So that's a real challenge, I think, in city government when trying to negotiate - work through the litigation issues here with the DOJ or with other third parties. It was a challenge for me. I don't know what it was like for Ed Murray or Jenny Durkan, but it - there may have been a challenge there as well. I certainly know it was a challenge for the Community Police Commission to try to be heard as a voice of the City in the process. Um, you know, Pete would put himself into the process and say, Well, I've got to decide what the City position is first.
Crystal Fincher: [00:14:07] Well, I think it's a challenge that we have seen throughout the last year of protests and police activity - where the Council has taken very strong positions and clearly indicated where they're at. The Community Police Commission has been very clear in indicating where they're at and where they've seen violations. And seeing the City Attorney defend the other side, and defend what the department has been doing, and really not seeing any pushback or any indication, that he would like to see things move in a different direction. And certainly as an elected official, he has the latitude to speak and voice - make his voice heard. And we really heard silence.
Mike McGinn: [00:14:57] Well, I think it's, I mean, now I will say this - there is an expectation that a prosecutor will execute prosecutorial discretion. So when acting as a prosecutor, for example, you would expect the City Attorney to make decisions as to when or when not to charge. And you actually wouldn't want the City Council or the Mayor trying to weigh in on those individuals. Where the City itself is a party to litigation - for example, on the litigation over how we were using, how the City was using tear gas, for example. That does put the City Attorney in a tough position, right? What's the City's position there? How should they respond to those allegations? Where should they defend or not? And I don't really know what conversations occurred between the City Council, Mayor, and Pete Holmes to resolve that. But that is a place where the City Attorney often finds themselves as an advisor to both branches of government and can act in a way to help bring the City together around an issue.
And I would say that's a separate challenge for a City Attorney. And I don't know the degree - well, I will say from my experience, that was not a role that Pete embraced - of how do we bring everyone together on a common position. It oftentimes felt to me as mayor, that Pete was more trying to figure out - where's my political, where should I be standing politically in this process?
Yeah. When these things are so challenging, you actually - that's a time when the City Attorney, in their advisory role to each branch, can yield a particular benefit or create challenges.
Crystal Fincher: [00:16:37] Yeah, you brought up a good example with the use of tear gas. I also think about the decision to attempt to subpoena journalism organizations, our news organizations, for evidence captured throughout their reporting, which seems like that is a massive violation. They fought back hard against that and ultimately prevailed, but wow, what a challenging position to be in from the City's perspective and -
Mike McGinn: [00:17:06] And that's - something like that is such a clear policy choice. Like that actually should be put to - that type of decision shouldn't rest in the City Attorney's office or with the Mayor alone. That's one where you actually want the City Council and the Mayor maybe hashing that out. What's our position? Do we subpoena? Is it our position as a city government that we're entitled to journalists' notes and videos? That's not a City Attorney's call. As opposed to - is this a misdemeanor charge or a felony charge, or should I send this person off with a lesser charge because that's the right way to handle this?
Crystal Fincher: [00:17:45] Well, and I'm surprised that, well, you know, I don't know if surprised, but I would have hoped to - that Pete Holmes, the City Attorney, would have stood up in that instance and said, Hey, we shouldn't automatically move to defend and pursue this here. We should step back a little bit and examine this policy. Is this really what we want to do? And instead of just moving forward with suing our news organizations.
Mike McGinn: [00:18:15] Well, I'm now recalling this issue too. It was portrayed as the police department has requested this information. So I, as the City Attorney, will do what the police department wants. Police department isn't yet another branch of government. The police department - the Mayor report - excuse me. The Chief reports to the Mayor, and the City Council sets policy. So again, this is a place where it's not the SPD's call as to whether or not to subpoena. And it's certainly not the City Attorney's call as to whether or not to do that. If he felt that he was getting conflicting messages, that the executive branch and the Mayor wanted him to do that, and the Council didn't want him to do that, that's a place where he's got to kick it back to them - You guys, go through the legislative process and give me the answer. Or try to bring them together privately and see if there was a chance to get the City on the same page. But again, that's - that would require recognizing who his clients are. And his clients here were not the police department. His clients were the city government as a whole, with their position determined by its elected - by the elected representatives of the people.
Crystal Fincher: [00:19:24] Certainly. And Pete Holmes will be on the ballot again this year. The City Attorney is going to be up for election here - in the primary in August and general in November. And I certainly think that these should be important conversations to have, and have been kind of flying under the radar here in Seattle, even though we've seen the importance of City Attorney's races in shaping the path of criminal justice policy across the country.
Mike McGinn: [00:19:53] Well let's - so let's just close with a larger observation here. Which is that this process of the consent decree and reform started with over 20 community organizations asking for reform. It led to the consent decree that set up a Community Police Commission that had representatives from many of those organizations making recommendations. But now all the power as to what is or is not reform, appears to be concentrated in the judge, in the City Attorney, in the Mayor, in the US Attorney for the Western District of Washington. And you know, it should not go unnoticed that those are older, white people - are now making all the decisions and hold the cards on reform, including Mike Solan, the head of SPOG. And who's left out of the equation? All of those men and women - the Black men and women that were, and Brown and Asian. And the communities of color that were all represented on that Community Police Commission, their voice has been silenced.
And I still look at this process and go, how did that happen? How did that happen? And the answer is it happened the same way it always seems to happen, where we have the media and others saying, Well, I guess those important people, the judge and the City Attorney and the Mayor and the US attorney, they must be the ones with all of the knowledge and power, because look at who they are and look at their status. So if they say it's reform, it's reform. And we were told - we were told for years and years, that reform is on track by those important people. And the media reported it as if it were true.
And now we have officers wouldn't reveal their badges, the police department used tear gas over a judge's order and over the City Council's order. The police department abandoned the precinct, apparently without any orders from above - just did it on their own and then decided not to police the CHOP. Oh, we can't go in, got to wait for hours. Even if that means people are dying. Right? So reform was in fact broken, but we were repeatedly told by the important people that it was not broken, that it was on track. And we listened and believed those important people, rather than listening and believing to the community members who said, No, this isn't working. Don't use - the Community Police Commission wrote years earlier - don't, stop using blast balls. You know, your demonstration tactics are wrong. And they were blown off and everybody was told, Don't worry, we got it. We got this. So, you know, I guess it happens the way it always happens. And it's very, very disappointing.
And I guess, you know, if we're looking at the next mayor, it's going to be who's going to have the guts to just say, Look, this process - the process we were in, was broken and we've got to try to figure out how to fix it. And the contract's an important piece of it, but it's a lot deeper than that.
Crystal Fincher: [00:23:00] Well said. And to your point, it's going to take the next mayor bringing them into the conversation, bringing all of us into the conversation. If any of that dynamic is going to change, that seems like it's going to be the only conduit. That the City Council appears to be making attempts to do that. But it's really going to take the Mayor, throughout this negotiation, throughout the consent decree issues, and overall to bring them in.
And we do have a mayor's race on our hands with several people who have gotten in the race. And I think in looking at candidates on people's radar - we see Lorena González, Jessyn Farrell, Colleen Echohawk, Andrew Grant Houston, Bruce Harrell, Lance Randall. There are some others who've been there, but I think that the names that we've listed have gotten the most attention and are set up, certainly, to be a central part of the conversation. So I guess as you're looking at this race, what do you see? How do you see it shaping up?
Mike McGinn: [00:24:13] Well, you know, probably the starting point to looking at the race is to kind of consider Seattle's political landscape. You know, the political physics of running a race in Seattle. And first of all, just about everyone's a Democrat. I think over 90% voted for Biden in the last election, almost 90% voted for Hillary Clinton. So, we're so used to looking at things through a national frame. We just have to recognize, well, pretty much everyone in the race is going to be a Democrat and everyone's going to say they're a progressive. So you really have to look at the fault lines in Seattle itself and recognize that there are two different bases.
And if you look at any election map in Seattle of any city-wide race - on one end of the spectrum are, you know, single family homes with views of the water. And that's one set of voters. And it's just, again, the map, if you did a blue and red map, and you called the red, the more conservative part of Seattle - all the view homes would be in red. All the view neighborhoods would be in red. The other end of the spectrum would be an apartment building on an arterial served by a bus line. And those, and whether that's an immigrant refugee community, whether that's young people moving to town, that's going to be on the other end. And in the middle, then, are probably well-educated professionals making a decent living who consider themselves quite progressive, but you know, a little bit worried that maybe some people are a little too radical. And that's the middle of the electorate.
And so what happens in Seattle - also kind of looking at political physics - 95% of the time there are two candidates that come out of the primary. One is endorsed by the Seattle Times, who is often also endorsed by the greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. And one is endorsed by The Stranger. And you'll find a host of environmental and labor unions over there too, but, you know, service workers in particular. But you'll also see some service workers, excuse me, some unions and construction trades over on the Seattle Times, Chamber of Commerce side as well. The unions are kind of in the middle of all this too. So the real question is what candidate is in which lane? Because there's not a lot of room in the middle here. You want to be in the middle to win. You want to be able to get over that 50% to win the race, but you're not going to get through to the primary unless you can claim a lane.
And so in the left lane, everyone's going to be looking at well, who's the real progressive with a chance to win. And over on the right lane, they're going to be looking at who's a candidate we can work with. The Chamber knows that they can't get, you know, just some dyed in the wool corporate business person to win the race. This is Seattle. So this is somebody who's progressive enough, looks like a progressive. They can win the middle of the Seattle electorate, but they'll work with us. They'll play ball with us. They'll make deals with us and they sure won't be running around saying they're going to tax the hell out of us. And taxes is probably the thing they care about the most, over there on the Chamber side. So, who's in what lane is the question. I got my ideas about who's in what lane. Why don't you tell me - go take it where you want to take it.
Crystal Fincher: [00:27:30] Uh, you know, what I want to hear is - who you do think are in what lanes. We've talked about the mayor's race on several prior shows. I'm interested to see how things play out. I think that there are going to be - many people are going to be trying to claim that progressive lane. The real issue is who is going to actually have policies to back that up. And I think that it is telling - where we're seeing real passion and specifics in what people are talking about, and where there's a lot of vague speak.
So I guess, how do you read it?
Mike McGinn: [00:28:10] Well, and to be clear, the race is still developing. And we were talking about this before the show. Some candidates' platforms fill out a little as it goes. I know mine did. I came in in 2009. I was really comfortable talking about the issues I worked on the most, but I had to learn more. But you can tell something from what people prioritize, or from their history.
I guess it's pretty clear. There are a couple of people that are pretty clear what lane they're in. Bruce Harrell pretty clearly seems to be claiming the right lane and I've got the depth of experience and what he chose to emphasize. Which isn't to say - again, I want to be clear. Bruce has pursued progressive things - protecting the rights of felons to be able to rent property, for example. He upheld my veto of the panhandling statute and I'm grateful for it. But it's very clear that he's much more aligned with the business community than the other candidates and that's his lane.
Over on the left side, Andrew Grant Houston is a really fascinating candidate. He's absolutely an urbanist. On Twitter, his handle is Ace the Architect, and he's for - let's build more housing, let's defund the police, let's build more bike lanes. And he's out there, credibly raising money. So, he's really playing hard, which is impressive for Andrew.
I think a lot of people are looking at Colleen Echohawk because she's - because Durkan appointed her to things and saying, Well, what lane is she in? Full disclosure, the people who helped me on my race are now helping Colleen on her race and she's coming in and saying, homelessness is the highest priority. I've got experience with homelessness. I've got experience with managing things. I represent the poorest people in one of the richest cities in the nation. And she clearly is working to claim, in my opinion, I believe she's working to claim that progressive lane.
Lorena - very interesting. Lorena was endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Seattle Times and The Stranger in her first race. And I think kind of the question has been, what side would she fall on? And obviously, from her background and her, you know, the issues she cared about before running for office, which were police reform. You'd expect her to be in the progressive lane. I think that's where she is. But it's interesting how much time she - I've seen her talking about how she's actually good for business and she can work with small business, and I kind of get it. When I was in the mayor's office and I was criticized for being too progressive, I always wanted to tell people, No, I can work with other people. I can work with everybody. But, so I think she's in that lane.
I think the most interesting here is Jessyn Farrell. Because when you look at Jessyn, she certainly comes out of an environmental advocacy and transit advocacy background.But you know, when you look at Transportation Choices Coalition - the two directors who followed her - one went to work for Durkan - Shefali. Another was endorsed by the Chamber in his city council race, and now works for a big corporation - her former colleague, Rob Johnson.
Crystal Fincher: [00:31:41] That was Rob Johnson.
Mike McGinn: [00:31:42] Yeah. Yeah. And Rob, you know, again, this is Seattle. Rob worked to get bike lanes on 65th and more power to him, but he was the Chamber candidate in that race, when he first ran. So, Jessyn's Field Director and Communications Director when she was head of TCC is now head of the greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce. So the politics of Transportation Choices Coalition has always been to work with the business community to get money for transit by also supporting highways. They try to trim back the highways and get more for the transit, but that's always been their politics. And so when I saw Jessyn get in the race, I was like, well, how is she going to out-progressive Colleen Echohawk and Lorena González?
And all of a sudden, I realized, Oh, she's not trying to out-progressive them. She's trying to be progressive enough, but also be the candidate who would be seen as the - perhaps the most credible challenger for the Seattle Times endorsement. So -
Crystal Fincher: [00:32:49] And that my friends is a hot take!
Mike McGinn: [00:32:54] I'm telling you it's - I think Jessyn's too smart to think that she can out-progressive them. I think she's going to present herself as the type of progressive, and she'd be more progressive. Let's be clear. She'd be more progressive than Jenny Durkan by a bunch. But it's also true that when she was asked who she voted for in the last election, as between Durkan and Cary Moon, she said she voted for Jenny Durkan.
So, it's an interesting play and let's forget - let's not forget, Ed Murray was the champion of gay marriage when he ran against me. And was seen as a very strong progressive because of his position on transit. He was also a huge highway supporter, but he was a transit supporter. And he'd worked to - for certain other things, but he was the type of candidate that the Chamber of Commerce could support because they felt like, Hey, he'd gotten the highway money for them. He made them promises that he would be nicer to them than I would be. And again, the Chamber doesn't get a hard right candidate. They get somebody who's progressive enough to win in Seattle, but will play ball with them. And Ed was that candidate, and those business leaders were standing up with Ed at press conferences, you know, after there were multiple accusations of wrongdoing against him. And they went and chose Jenny Durkan next.
And Jenny said she was a progressive, so that's kind of what swings is - how much of a progressive does the Chamber of Commerce have to accept in order to get a credible candidate? And in today's age, maybe Jessyn's that candidate. Maybe she's the Seattle Times candidate, not The Stranger candidate in this time. And it's kind of interesting that the issue she hit on, when she started running. She was on childcare, which is a great issue. She was on affordable housing, which is a great issue, but we didn't really hear her talking in the same way about taxes or police reform at the time.
Crystal Fincher: [00:34:51] You know, this is why I enjoy conversations with you, because you come with context and history. And you will come with a take that I have not heard someone make before. And then I'll be like, My goodness. That is actually true. And when you do think about it, you're 100% correct that the Chamber needs someone progressive enough. They're never going to get a conservative candidate. They know that. They don't even try. It's who can credibly message themselves as a progressive or progressive enough, not a conservative, still holding progressive values, and they certainly say, We are totally on the progressive bandwagon on issues surrounding transportation. It's always been that.
They, more than kind of general conservatives, recognize the importance of transit, in addition to advocating for more highways and issues there. They haven't been shy in advocating for transit, which is something that we normally don't hear from conservative voices. And so they'll be like, Hey, we are progressive, just like Seattle. We're different - we're the Seattle Chamber, we love transit too. And people go, Yeah. And then they stand up by, whether it's Ed Murray or Jenny Durkan and they do go - and we are on board with their progressive transit agenda and people go, Yay. That's okay. And then we end up with people making the policies that we have seen.
I hope Seattle learns the lesson that we have to listen to policy specifics and that we can't just accept someone who says that they are progressive or who makes a - can pull off a really good photo shoot with a lot of diverse people in the picture. And actually looks at the policies and experience and history and understanding that, Look, the Chamber does not support people who it does not think are going to play ball and get some usually meaningful reassurance in that area. And they take that seriously this time, because people act surprised when they elect the Chamber candidate and then the Chamber candidate does Chamber things and they're like, Oh my gosh, I can't believe they would do this. So hopefully we see something different this time.
Mike McGinn: [00:37:10] The Chamber really got burned in the last election. You know, Amazon put in a million dollars - all of their, all of their candidates lost. You might see the Chamber not publicly endorse for quite some time in this race, if at all. But that doesn't mean that the Seattle Times won't endorse, or that doesn't mean they won't be behind the scenes, doing their best to influence the outcome. So that's just one more observation to make.
Crystal Fincher: [00:37:38] Very interesting. Well, I appreciate you taking this time with us today. I thank everyone for listening to the show today and for just spending your time with Hacks and Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM on this Friday, March 26th, 2021. Our chief audio engineer at KVRU is Maurice Jones Jr. The producer of Hacks and Wonks is Lisl Stadler. And our insightful co-host today was former Seattle mayor Mike McGinn. You can find Mike on Twitter @mayormcginn, that's M C G I N N. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F I N C H F R I I. And now you can follow Hacks and Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts, just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get the full versions of our Friday almost live show and our mid-week show delivered to your podcast feed. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced to the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the podcast episode notes. Thanks for tuning in. We'll talk to you next time.