Single-Issue City Attorney Backs Candidates Who Support Drug Prosecutions; District 1 Candidate Rob Saka Benefits from Bagel Mailers

1. In a last-minute endorsement (of sorts), Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison sent out a mass email on Saturday urging voters to support the city council candidates who have consistently supported legislation—which will almost certainly pass later this summer—that would empower her to prosecute drug users for simple possession and for using drugs, other than alcohol and marijuana, in public. The law would incorporate a new state law into city law, granting the city attorney the authortiy prosecute misdemeanor-level drug use and possession.

The letter painted an apocalyptic picture of the city where Davison serves as chief local prosecutor.

“Parents should be able to take their kids on the bus without inhaling plumes of fentanyl smoke. We all should be able to walk in our parks and sidewalks without stepping over needles and drug paraphernalia. We should be able to get to work without dodging a gauntlet of drug deals,” Davison wrote.

“Unfortunately, some members of City Council voted not to allow Seattle to adopt our new State law on drugs. For me to have authority to prosecute and intervene, the new state law must be put into our city code by City Council.”

Although Davison’s letter, sent from her campaign email address, claims the proposed law would empower her to “intervene” in drug users’ cycle of addiction, the law itself is silent on intervention and diversion. In reality, according to a city council staff analysis, the legislation only gives the city attorney the authority to prosecute.

The city council candidates who unequivocally said yes to a Seattle Times survey question about prosecuting drug users, according to a survey conducted by the Seattle Times, are, in order of district: Rob Saka and Phil Tavel (District 1); George Artem and Ken Wilson (District 4); Boegert Bibby (District 5); Pete Hanning, Victoria Palmer, and Shea Wilson (District 6); Bob Kettle, Olga Sagan, Aaron Marshall, Wade Sowders, and Isabelle Kerner (District 7). District 7 incumbent Andrew Lewis also told the Seattle Times he supports prosecuting drug users, but because he cast the tie-breaking vote against the bill before saying he would support it, he does not meet Davison’s criteria.

2. Meta attorney Rob Saka, a frontrunner in District 1, may be the primary beneficiary of billboards and mailers advertising Eltana Bagels, the company founded by another D1 candidate, Stephen Brown. As we’ve reported, Brown has insisted the mailers and billboards, which look strikingly similar to his campaign materials, were just ordinary advertising for the Montreal-style bagel stores.

That didn’t stand up to scrutiny by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, however: The mailers, which featured the phrase “Seattle Deserves Better…—Stephen Brown” and offered $25 in free bagels, look like campaign literature, and the billboards—which also featured Brown’s name—were mostly located in District 1, which does not have a single Eltana store. After conferring with Ethics and Elections director Wayne Barnett, the Brown campaign filed an amended campaign report that included $33,000 for the West Seattle portion of the mailing and billboards.

Last week, the ethics commission went even further, voting—in response to a request from Saka—to allow him to raise and spend more than $93,750, the maximum allowed under Seattle election law unless another candidate goes above the spending cap. Ordinarily, this happens when a candidate’s own campaign spending, plus independent expenditures on their behalf, breaches the cap, but the city also allows candidates to spend more than the mandatory maximum if another candidate violates election law.

Ironically, Saka himself has already benefited from tens of thousands of dollars in spending from an independent expenditure campaign backed by real estate moguls and a Trump-donating billionaire, putting him over the limit himself. Maren Costa, a labor-backed candidate, requested a lift on the cap for her own campaign and received it last week.

Because last week’s hearing was about Saka’s motion to lift the cap, the Brown campaign’s $33,000 valuation for the mailers was not in question. The commission will likely seek a new valuation, but hasn’t yet, so as of now, the old, under-the-limit valuation stands. This creates a bizarre Schrödinger’s cap situation in which the Brown campaign has both spent more than the legal limit (according to the ethics commission) and is within the limit (according to the commission’s executive director and the campaign itself).

4 thoughts on “Single-Issue City Attorney Backs Candidates Who Support Drug Prosecutions; District 1 Candidate Rob Saka Benefits from Bagel Mailers”

  1. If a city attorney is going to (arguably) be single-issue, isn’t public safety the issue that makes the most sense? As a downtown worker, the drive to interrupt the sinister cycle of drug abuse makes sense to me.

  2. Can someone explain to me how describing things that actually occur in Seattle is “apocalyptic”? If the left put half as much effort into practically addressing problems as they do denying them & attempting to draw lines about which real world observations are problematic, maybe we could help people and improve public policy.

    It’s strange to me that we have adopted policy that has led to people smoking fentanyl on public transit without any accountability, but that the “problem” is people are talking about it. For months we saw the effort to deny it was happening. Then, we heard the cope that “well, we don’t know if the smoke is harmful to others”. Finally, Metro operators complained to public representatives and the media, and I thought we could finally acknowledge: yes it happens, yes it’s bad, and yes, a person using hard drugs on public transit (often a large + unstable man), is disproportionally harmful to the sense of safety for women and children. Being a progressive does not mean we have to accept a hostile urban experience.

    It’s strange to me that after votes to decriminalize possession so that there is no accountability (nor assistance!) after using hard drugs in a public park, when people leave paraphernalia like needles on the ground, the “problem” is people talking about it. (Today it’s mostly foil, not needles.) It’s strange to me that you can walk around the many open air drug markets in Seattle, see drug deals & fencing & human suffering in plain sight. But the “problem” is that people talk about it.

    When a bar owner posts about a glass door being smashed repeatedly, the problem is when he talks about it.

    This insistence on denying reality is a sign of great failure. Note that I am not pushing for one grand solution or another. It will take a massive effort on all fronts to make meaningful progress. But: we must start from the place of acknowledging the truth. For now, the only logical thing to do is to keep people marinating in this unreality as far away from power as possible, so that we can finally move to aggressively address the human suffering we can see with our eyes and in the corresponding public data. This is what elections are for. Vote!

    1. I work downtown, live a few miles away, and travel all around the city using public transit and our vast array of sidewalks. I guess because I rarely/almost never run into any problems means I’m “denying reality.” I’ve lived in this city for half a century, and it is now far cleaner and safer than in was at any point before the turn of the century (and probably ever). But ohh no, such facts are “denying reality,” all I have to do is listen to blowhards screaming over and over “more police with more aggressive patrolling combined with fewer social programs is the most humane policy EVAH!! Science tells me so!!!”

      People like you have a place: it’s called the suburbs. There you will be surrounded by people who think like you: it’s okay for the police to shoot people who come into your neighborhood when you don’t recognize them. Here in Seattle we’ve been through that and already decided police violence is a problem and not a solution. So you can take your Trumpy Repug City Attorney and her great fans, Harrell and Nelson, and live in Bellevue or wherever. I’m sure they are eager to keep your type in the majority anyway, so I’m sure they will roll out the red carpet when you arrive.

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