Editor's note: We're not the first people to exploit the fact that our progressive city attorney Pete Holmes shares a name with one of the country's most famous comedians—last year, Pete-the-attorney opened for Pete-the-comedian with a brief comedy set at the Neptune Theatre. ("He killed," Pete-the-comedian said.) Since there's so much legal and political action in Seattle right now with legalized marijuana, the $15 minimum wage, police reform, and general rampant socialism, the comedian called the attorney to get an update.
Attorney Pete Holmes: So, I assume you have no interest in talking about marijuana, socialism, the $15 minimum wage, or the deep-bore tunnel that's stuck under Seattle.
Comedian Pete Holmes: Well, the thing that comes across my plate the most, because people tag things #peteholmes: Did you legalize marijuana?
Attorney: I personally legalized marijuana, yes! No, I simply used prosecutorial discretion and refrained from prosecuting any more possession cases after taking office on January 1, 2010. As a number of council members pointed out, the world didn't stop spinning. So, at the end of 2011, we knew the time was right with the coming presidential election to put it on the ballot. I was one of the original sponsors. The rest, as they say, is history.
Comedian: The rest went up in smoke, is the joke you're supposed to make. And didn't you get in trouble for going to a dispensary and buying some now-legal marijuana? You got some blowback, right?
Attorney: The puns keep coming! Yes, there was blowback.
Comedian: Now you're writing my material! This is perfect.
Attorney: But to answer your question, we have some more work to do. We want to treat marijuana the same way we treat alcohol. Interestingly, under the drug-free workplace rules, you're only prohibited from bringing alcohol onto the premises if you intend to consume it there. For me, it was just a lack of thinking about it—I did that to make a statement and help the licensed stores establish a good foothold, and simply brought it in the office with me with no intent to consume it. It took the media maybe 15 minutes to request my calendar and ask the question that I answered honestly: "Yes, I drove from there to the office, which would mean the marijuana is here with me in the building."
Comedian: Is that really a big deal anymore? We're past the Bill-Clinton-I-didn't-inhale place to the Obama-yeah-we've-seen-the-pictures-from-the-'70s place. C'mon!
Attorney: Well, you know, Pete—on a serious note, if prosecutors would at least think twice about putting someone in jail for doing something that they themselves have done, you might see a whole different regard for the criminal-justice system in this country.
Comedian: That's absolutely right. What you did was empathetic, and what you just said was empathetic. I'm sure you get asked this a lot: Alcohol is a very strange substance that is legal, and it's certainly messing up people's lives. My friend Jim Florentine has a funny joke: "You know, if somebody gets drunk, there's domestic violence and all this sort of stuff, but if somebody gets high, the worst they're going to do is eat your dinner."
Attorney: Our former police chief Norm Stamper addressed that very point on Huffington Post—he asked his fellow chiefs of police, both active and retired, what would they prefer: getting into a fight with someone who was drunk or someone who was stoned. The unanimity was amazing!
Comedian: I have to say, doing Bumbershoot, a lot of people who like comedy also enjoy the benefits of marijuana. It certainly makes my job easier. So I owe you a debt on behalf of my people! What else is going on?
Attorney: We're defending a lawsuit against the $15/hour minimum wage. George W. Bush's lawyer Paul Clement has filed suit against the city of Seattle. They just this week asked for a preliminary injunction to prevent the law from going into effect.
Comedian: So you want a $15 minimum wage?
Attorney: You bet. Our council and mayor put it together—they really staked out new territory and took a big shot at income inequality. Now it's my job to defend it.
Comedian: Why are we talking on the phone? We should be here in Los Angeles pitching a buddy-cop movie—Two Pete Holmeses! It'll be you and me going around, taking care of business. I think we have a hit. And that's the tagline: "It's a hit!" What was the regular minimum wage? I don't even know.
Attorney: It was $9.32, the prior state minimum wage. It's quite a hoist.
Comedian: Wait—so you—it sounds like you're turning Seattle into a utopia. It's already a great town. Now you're making marijuana legal and easy to get, and making sure everybody's paid. You're like two or three years away from Blue Lagoon, where everybody has to wear coconut bras and love each other all the time. Everybody gets a ukulele! I think if we keep you on this track, city attorney won't be right. Everybody's just going to have to call you the king. But you'll be one of those cool, chill kings.
Attorney: They call me lots of things, but nothing close to that! That's for sure.
Comedian: You're getting a lot of flak?
Attorney: Oh, sure. The people who like what you do are usually not the most vocal, right?
Comedian: You've got to keep in mind that the people who love you a lot of the time just love you and don't feel the need to express it.
Attorney: I think the best analogy to what I do is your story about the audience at a magician's act. They're looking for me to fuck up!
Comedian: That's right. Everybody wants to see politicians and magicians drop the rabbit! You need a campaign slogan: "I won't drop the rabbit." The poster makes itself. Follow your bliss, my man! Follow your bliss. You're my one contact in politics—I need this.
Attorney: I thought you were going to say I'm your one contact in case you get pulled over.
Comedian: I might drop your name in Texas or Chicago: "City attorney Pete Holmes said let me go."
Attorney: That will not help you! I promise you that.
Comedian: I can't believe I beat you to peteholmes.com. I mean, what were you doing?
Attorney: I don't know... buying cannabis somewhere.