Tag: book bans

Candidate Says Bagel Giveaway Is Strictly Business; Big Business PACs Back Harrell-Allied Candidates; “Books Unbanned” Still Open to Minors In Library Book Ban States

1. Stephen Brown, the president of Eltana Bagels and a candidate for City Council in District 1 (West Seattle), said a mailer emblazoned “Seattle Deserves Better… – Stephen Brown” that included an offer for free bagels was just a routine promotional pitch for his local wood-fired bagel chain, not a campaign expenditure.

The flyer (which opens to the word “Bagels!”) offers a half-dozen free bagels and a “spread of your choice”—a “more than $25 value!” to anyone who comes in to either of Eltana’s two locations, which are both located outside District 1. In small print below the offer, the mailer says the offer expires at the end of August and has “no cash value.”

Contacted by email, Brown said the flyers were part of Eltana’s routine direct-marketing strategy and went out “to various addresses in the city that are close to retail grocery stores selling Eltana bagels. … As part of its promotions, Eltana regularly gives bagels away in an effort to garner trial and acquire customers.”

“The intention was to use a banal, stereotypical message as a parody—to use humor to sell bagels,” Brown added.

“This effort is not a campaign expense—it is not electoral in nature.” —District 1 city council candidate Stephen Brown

Eltana has also purchased four billboards, including at least one in West Seattle, prominently featuring Brown’s name.

“Eltana has never bought billboards in the past but the incredibly low price for billboards this summer ($1000 a month) made this promotional offer too attractive for Eltana to pass up,” Brown said. “We have used me, as the founder, in the past to promote Eltana[.] …. This effort is not a campaign expense—it is not electoral in nature.”

If the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission determines that the mailers, giveaway, or billboards do promote Brown’s candidacy, the campaign would be in violation of Seattle election law, which bars candidates who participate in the democracy voucher program (as Brown is) from accepting more than $300 in cash or in-kind contributions from any campaign donor. The commission declined to comment.

Brown said “the campaign will not be reporting on the performance of the Eltana trial promotion,” as “the offer is made and distributed by Eltana, is city wide, and doesn’t promote any candidate for public office nor does it mention any elections or geography.”

2. A developer-funded independent expenditure campaign poured more than $27,000 into the effort to elect Maritza Rivera—whose campaign focuses on hiring more police—to City Council District 4, where urbanist Ron Davis is the other top contender.

“University Neighbors Committee” received its largest donations from developers John Goodman and George Petrie—two frequent Republican donors who bankrolled the failed Compassion Seattle campaign and poured $150,000 into the political committee that helped elect Bruce Harrell in 2021. The other donors backing the pro-Rivera PAC include developer Jordan Selig, developer Martin Smith, developer Matt Griffin, and Amazon bigwig David Zapolsky.

The PAC’s first pro-Rivera mailer says that as a parent of a child at Ingraham High School, where a 17-year-old was shot last year, she “decided to run for city council because our current council isn’t doing enough to keep us safe. “If voters elect Rivera, the mailer promises, they’ll get “More cops. Better training. Faster response times”—Rivera has said wants to reduce Priority 1 911 response times to five minutes, which would require hiring hundreds more officers—a goal SPD has acknowledged isn’t realistic—and making Seattle the exception to a nationwide trend.

The exact same group of donors has contributed more than $32,000 to the “Elliott Bay Neighbors” PAC supporting Rob Saka—another Harrell-allied candidate—in District 1 (West Seattle).

If you’ve seen any mailers and want to send them our way, email erica@publicola.com. 

3. Earlier this month, the state of Mississippi effectively banned people under 18 from accessing e-books or audiobooks through any of its public libraries—part of the growing trend of book bans and other restrictions aimed at preventing young people from accessing information about gender, sexuality, race, and anything else Republican lawmakers consider objectionable.

The law requires vendors of digital materials like Libby and Hoopla to ensure that no minors can access anything the state deems “sexually explicit,” which includes everything from textbooks that include human anatomy sketches to “descriptions [of] homosexuality or lesbianism.”

Seattle Public Library spokeswoman Laura Gentry said the library will continue to offer Seattle library cards to people with Internet access living in Mississippi, whose ban on online materials for minors only extends to public and school libraries in that state, through its Books Unbanned program. Currently, she said, the program has 17 participants from Mississippi, including a 23-year-old teacher who submitted this comment: 

“Living in Mississippi, a lot of books with vital information/stories/perspectives are banned or being banned. Being a Black woman in the city with the highest population of Black people, I know how important it is for us to protect our history. Also, being a teacher, I see how certain books being banned has already affected the younger generation. There is a lot that they don’t know and may never know so it’s extremely helpful to have access to this catalog.”