Election Mega-Fizz: Hostile Architecture, Race, Misleading Ads, a “Not Qualified” Rating, and More!

1. At a debate sponsored by Rainier Valley Radio, Converge Media and the South Seattle Emerald on Wednesday, Sara Nelson, a candidate for City Council Position 9, ran out the clock on a question from her opponent about why her business, Fremont Brewing, has placed concrete “eco-blocks” in the public right-of-way around their brewing facility in Ballard.

Oliver asked Nelson why, as the candidate in the race who wants to prosecute misdemeanors like “stealing food,” she thought it was fine to violate the law against obstructing public streets. (As we’ve reported, it’s illegal to place obstructions like eco-blocks in public spaces, but the city says the law is difficult to enforce.) Nelson responded by protesting that she doesn’t consider herself the “law-and-order” candidate, but “a public safety person,” and said that the misdemeanors she wants to prosecute “are not small crimes, especially when they are repeated over and over again.” The clock ran out just as Nelson started responding to Oliver’s question.

Meanwhile, the eco-blocks around the brewing facility Nelson owns remain in place, and several more have been placed directly on the grassy planting strips nearby, another unambiguous violation of the law.

Next to Fremont Brewing, ecology blocks in the public right-of-way extend right up to a stop sign.

2. Voters across the city have received mailers from Nelson that not-so-subtly suggest broad support among Black leaders and other people of color, featuring five people of color (three of them Black, two Asian American) and no white supporters.

Nelson, who is white and lives in North Seattle, has made a number of controversial statements about what “the Black community” wants, suggesting during a September forum, for example, that the Black and brown people she has talked to “don’t want no police… they want better police.”

Oliver called that a “very racist” statement, adding, “to say Black and brown people don’t want a world beyond prisons and police, because you can name three that have endorsed your campaign, is making us into a monolith. We’re not.”

Of the five people of color featured on Nelson’s latest mailer, three are identified: Former Gov. Gary Locke, SPD Community Advisory Council leader Victoria Beach, and Harriett Walden, the longest-tenured chair of the Community Police Commission. The two unidentified supporters—an Asian American woman and a Black man featured in a stock “talking to community members” photo—are longtime Vulcan external affairs director Pearl Leung, who now works at Amazon, and her husband James Parker, an actor.

3. Several business and developer groups that previously supported King County Councilmember Kathy Lambert, who was removed from her leadership roles on the council after sending out a racist mailer that portrayed one of her colleagues, Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, as a bow-tie-wearing “Seattle socialist”—have quietly joined the Seattle Times in dropping their endorsements for Lambert.

The Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties tweeted on October 8 that their political arm, the Affordable Housing Council, had rescinded their endorsement and was requesting a refund of their contribution ($2,000, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission) to Lambert’s campaign. The account, @MBAKS_Voice, has 749 followers.

The endorsing body for the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, the Eastside Business Association, also rescinded their endorsement of Lambert, EBA executive director Caitlyn Gallagher confirmed.

And the Associated General Contractors of Washington no longer lists Lambert on their endorsements website. (The AGC did not respond to a request for comment.) The AGC’s political action committee, BUILD PAC, contributed $1,000 to Lambert’s campaign in March.

4. This week, half the front page of the Seattle Times’ website was taken up by an enormous flashing ad calling city attorney candidate Nicole Thomas-Kennedy “reckless and extreme” because of tweets she posted during the June 2020 protests against police violence. The ad included a quote from “The Seattle Times” saying that Thomas-Kennedy’s “toxic tweets” show she is “unfit to be Seattle City Attorney,” omitting the fact that the quote is from the Times’ editorial board, not its news reporting. More egregiously, the ad did not include legally information identifying who paid for the ad—in this case, big corporate donors including Vulcan, the president of Microsoft, and the head of Goodman Real Estate.

The Times has endorsed Thomas-Kennedy’s opponent, Ann Davison.

State law requires independent expenditure groups that purchase ads, including online ads, to clearly identify the top five donors behind the campaign. The anti-Thomas-Kennedy ad did not list any donors; instead, in tiny white-on-black print, one of the flashing panels said the campaign was purchased by “Seattle for Common Sense.”

After I posted the ad on Twitter, someone filed a complaint with the State Public Disclosure Commission, charging that the ad violated state disclosure law by failing to include the contributors. In the meantime, about half an hour after my initial tweet, a new version of the ad appeared on the Seattle Times’ website, now including a list of the campaign’s top donors, if an outdated one (it excluded Microsoft president Brad Smith and developer Jon Runstad).

The responsibility for ensuring that ads don’t run afoul of the law is shared by campaigns and the companies that choose to publish or run them. Kim Bradford, deputy director of the PDC, says the fact that the ad was eventually fixed does not mean the agency won’t investigate. “We open a case if we think there’s something there and there’s enough evidence of a potential violation,” Bradford said. The PDC does allow an exemption to disclosure on the ad itself for “small” online ads, which Bradford defined as “the small embedded ads that you see on some websites—the ones that are kind of within the text.” It’s unlikely that a flashing ad that takes up half the front page of a website when viewed on a browser would qualify as a small ad.

The Times has a history of bending the rules to promote Republican candidates and causes. In 2012, the newspaper donated a full page of the newspaper to gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, the equivalent of an $80,000 contribution. The unprecedented decision to contribute free advertising to a partisan candidate made national news, and more than 100 Times employees protested the paper’s funding of McKenna’s campaign.

5. The Washington Coalition of Minority Legal Professionals—a coalition of state bar associations including the Loren Miller Bar Association (representing Black lawyers), Washington Women Lawyers, QLaw (representing LGBTQ+ lawyers), and several Asian American bar associations—has given Davison an “unqualified” rating. According to the group, their ratings reflect “our nonpartisan assessment whether a candidate will be effective in office, will serve the interests of the community and society, and is committed to the fair administration of justice and improvement of the criminal justice system from the perspective of the participating minority bar associations.”

One factor in the coalition’s ratings were the candidates’ answers to a standard questionnaire, which included questions like “how will you engage with communities of color?” and “as city attorney, how will you engage with tribal governments?”

In response to a question about whether “you or the organizations you have been a part of have contributed to white supremacy and/or the devaluation of the lives of Black and Indigenous persons or other persons of color,” Davison had this to say:

“I have spent most of my life working to help people in need. In my youth I worked in a refugee camp for people fleeing terrible violence from civil war and at a congressional office where I helped underserved people get access to services they needed. I currently serve on a board that gives housing and support to people in severe mental health and addiction. While my time working in professional sports, often as the only woman in an office of wealthy men of various races, was much less altruistic, it was still a position of service.”

The group gave Davison’s opponent Thomas-Kennedy a rating of “adequate.”

15 thoughts on “Election Mega-Fizz: Hostile Architecture, Race, Misleading Ads, a “Not Qualified” Rating, and More!”

  1. Quite a few statistics? The ones I have show a steady 20% which is about what other cities our size and larger show, because folks go towards services which larger cities tend to have more of.

    Seattle however has been shown to have worse mental health services and spend much less money on its homelessness problem than other cities. I guess all the free stuff you think people are getting is from volunteer outreach. 🤷‍♀️

      1. Ron P: In other words, perhaps Seattle could have a 34% lower homeless population if the City had not provided more free stuff than the homeless can get outside of King County. It is probably too late for that now…the damage has been done. Now they are expecting and even demanding more free stuff. I am just thinking of what could have been. 34% fewer garbage dumps, 34% fewer needles, 34% less shit on the grass at public parks, etc. etc.

    1. JenMoon: I don’t include volunteer outreach in my list of free stuff. Here is a partial list of free stuff in Seattle, according to the websites of the free-stuff agencies: Free medical and dental procedures, free prescriptions and vaccinations, free counseling (legal-mental-debt-emotional-career), free tiny homes, free hotel rooms, free apartments, free electricity and free appliances for those apartments-shelters, free kitchenware, free furniture, free blankets, free tents and blue tarps, free food, free shoes and clothing, free backpacks, free heating and air conditioning, free drinking water, free beds, free showers, free laundry, free laundry soap and bleach, free trash service, free movies and activist classes, free needles, free bathrooms, free toilet paper, free birth control, free abortions, free beer and cigarettes (Shoreline), free bicycles, free basic income, free transit bus and train rides, free cell phones, free cash money. Now please tell me where in that list of free stuff do you see “volunteer outreach”. In any event, volunteer outreach is actually part of the problem. The Psychobabblers (clinical psychologists) have a name for those volunteers: “enablers”. There is so much free stuff in Seattle, I think I should sign up for some myself….. and have you seen the great views of Seattle from some of those new free apartments? Steve Willie.

      1. @Steve Willie: Virtually everything on your list is provided by many other cities besides Seattle, or else is a federal program (e.g., health care, cell phones, basic income aka TANF, SSI, etc.). And most of the substantive assistance Seattle does provide, such as housing, is in extremely short supply and has long waiting lists and onerous requirements. Getting an apartment in one of those new buildings you’re so worked up about is akin to winning the lottery. Anyone who shows up in Seattle from elsewhere hoping to be housed in anything other than a congregate shelter is in for a very, very long wait.

        Try living homeless in Seattle yourself sometime if you think it’s so easy. I’d bet dollars to donuts you wouldn’t last a week.

  2. “Nelson, who is white and lives in North Seattle, has made a number of controversial statements about what “the Black community” wants, suggesting during a September forum, for example, that the Black and brown people she has talked to “don’t want no police… they want better police.””

    Would have been nice for you to provide context about how this is consistent with polling (at least at the national level). The vast majority of black people, and people in general are against defunding the police.

  3. Yes Erica: Every Seattle candidate for public office must be judged solely on how much free stuff they will give away to those on a bad plan. Can a problem which was created by handing out too much free stuff be solved by handing out more free stuff? The homeless are getting the word that Seattle has the best free stuff. Notice how the campers are now surrounding those new free apartments before they are even finished? Please continue helping to get the word out. Seattle is improving the situation for everyone NOT in Seattle, while showing other WA State communities what NOT to do. This is very entertaining so please don’t ever stop. Winter is coming. How much should I donate to keep you going? Steve Willie.

    1. There is no evidence that Seattle is a national or even state wide level homeless magnet. Many other places give a lot more to the homeless and have lower rates of homelessness (SLC and NYC come to mind). Your assertions are refuted by any factual data you care to look at.

      1. A Joy: Since every city measures homelessness differently AND the amount of free stuff differently AND the effectiveness of give-away programs differently, you cannot compare city-to-city and therefore you have no idea what you are talking about. Is that normal for you? Also, I never said anything about national or statewide. Did you just make that up? Do you use a fake name so nobody knows who is the fake? Steve Willie.

      2. A Joy: It would seem as if the policies you support are what got Seattle to this point in the first place. Please keep going. Your failures are quite entertaining. Seattle: had enough yet?

      3. A Joy: There are some statistics available regarding how many homeless in Seattle are not even from Seattle. There are quite a few being attracted from other areas. Look up your preferred source for that. They came here for the free stuff. I am just guessing that they did not come from Mars. So they could be from anywhere, but Seattle is a good example of what NOT to do. I predict that Seattle will ignore the lessons and the problem will continue to get worse. Steve Willie.

      4. “The homeless are getting the word that Seattle has the best free stuff.”

        You wrote this, Steve Willie. Where would these homeless “getting the word” be? Presumably from outside Seattle. Yet from the statistics I’ve seen, including 2019 reports from the UW itself, over 50% of Seattle’s homeless come from Seattle, with the next greatest number coming from withing King County. Which isn’t surprising, given that up until recently homeless funding in the county was centralized in Seattle for ease of distribution. The KCRHA should help change that, but it will take time.

        You say Seattle hands out too much free stuff. Yet NYC and SLC hand out free housing, and they don’t have the homeless problem Seattle does, even before that free housing is taken into account. This would suggest that Seattle needs to give out more free stuff, not less.

        The policies I support have never been tried in Seattle, so they can hardly be blamed for the current state of affairs. I have had enough, yes. Enough of demonizing and sweeping the homeless. We need to do something else for a change. The one place we almost agree is when you say “I predict that Seattle will ignore the lessons and the problem will continue to get worse.”. Yet what you suggest and want more of is ignoring the lessons and making thing worse.

    2. A Joy: You are apparently claiming that people seeking free stuff don’t go where they get the most free stuff. That simply defies reality. It actually works like steel to a magnet. Anything to the contrary is fake stats. This is the same as Seattle Progressives claiming that Seattle’s crime rate is not going way up…by cherry-picking the data. By the way, have you seen the actual crime statistics in NYC as a result of Progressives? The policy you recommend is giving away free stuff to those on a bad plan. It always fails, which is why you are so entertaining. This is like the YouTube channels for “epic fails” …my favorites. Please don’t ever change. Seattle deserves failure and that is exactly the type of entertainment Progressives are already bringing to it. Steve Willie.

      1. “You are apparently claiming that people seeking free stuff don’t go where they get the most free stuff. That simply defies reality.”

        No, I am simply stating what the scientifically researched data states. To defy science is to defy reality. Declaring science “fake” is about as effective as spitting into the wind.

        And I’m no progressive. I have no stomach for progressives, so painting me with that brush is laughable and unwarranted.

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