The Seattle Times ran an editorial today taking aim at Mayor Mike McGinn for his "boneheaded" move to veto a controversial bill on aggressive panhandling. (Backers of the bill were found to be misrepresenting information, the bill itself likely violated the Constitution, and in the end it would do nothing to help public safety.) But the Seattle Times says, "Every individual aggressively panhandled in the months ahead should blame McGinn." And then the editors beat McGinn up for being—um—exactly who he said he was, for doing exactly what he said he would do during the campaign:
When Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is not trying to block the planned deep-bore tunnel to replace the viaduct, or attempting to torpedo a hard-fought deal on a new Highway 520 bridge, the mayoral dust storm is working not to make city streets safer and more welcoming for businesses and customers.
What were we thinking, Seattle, when we elected McGinn as the city's chief executive officer? In four months, he has demonstrated a lack of listening skills and a political compass to guide him.
First: We? Who's this "we" that the Seattle Times is trotting out? The Seattle Times didn't elect McGinn. The Seattle Times didn't endorse McGinn. The Seattle Times actively campaigned against McGinn.
"We" don't have amnesia, Seattle Times. The "we" who voted for McGinn elected him in the hopes that he would veto bone-headed bills like this one. And just who is out of touch with Seattle voters? McGinn? Or the "we" at the Seattle Times who opposed expanding light rail—not once, not twice, but three times—the same light rail expansion that McGinn and the voters who elected him support. And the "we" at the Seattle Times hardly reported on the 520 bridge until Seattle progressives made it an issue, and the "hard-fought deal" is one that the state imposed, while previous folks the Seattle Times endorsed (like Greg Nickels) were asleep at the wheel when the nuts and bolts of the 520 deal really went down. The "we" that supported Mike McGinn—like his job performance or not—elected him, not any of "you" at the Seattle Times. During the campaign "you" were busy running editorials gushing about how vapid phone-company exec Joe Mallahan could "lead Seattle forward."
Second, the Seattle Times says that McGinn has "demonstrated a lack of listening skills" and doesn't have "a political compass to guide him." Uh, no. The mayor listens. He just isn't listening to you, he refuses to be guided by you. And why should he?
The Seattle Times is lying. They're claiming to have been taken for a ride when they were never onboard with McGinn in the first place. They're concern trolling. "The mayor missteps dramatically by planning to veto useful legislation," the Seattle Times writes. Uh huh. They're so concerned about his widdow missteps! This is a strategy of pretending to care about someone's success while spreading doubts about their strategy. It's a typical tactic employed by conservatives (think of all the Republicans offering advice to Democrats).
We should expect as much from the conservative Seattle Times, the paper that endorsed Dino Rossi, the paper that swooned for Susan Hutchison, the paper that fawned over George Bush, the paper that fought health-care reform. (On health care last month the Seattle Times simply claimed the public "have other priorities right now—the economy, mainly—and their wishes should be respected.")
The Seattle Times has always hated McGinn and always will. They hate that the city of Seattle—voters and elected officials—refuse to listen to their boneheaded editorials. But why should they?
Seattle Times editorials are reliably vacuous. They told us to vote for Hutchison because she was a "political outsider and brings a host of fresh ideas" when any idiot could see her empty (bright yellow) suit coughing up hackneyed conservative talking points. She lost by a landslide. The Seattle Times told us that a controversial Christmas ornament sent to the Bush White House was "embarrassing" and caused us "holiday discomfort" without explaining what, exactly, was so offensive other than the ornament being the subject of a controversy ginned up by desperate conservative yakkers. Mallahan won the endorsement of the Seattle Times because "he is the practical player" and is "solution-oriented" and spouted a bunch of other buzz-words that mean nothing. Seattle voters refuse to be guided by the Seattle Times' "political compass"—vote for Mike McGavick!—and it's driving them nuts.
Likewise, today's editorial in the Seattle Times and one on Monday by Joni Balter are equally empty. The Seattle Times wants to be the New York Times, a paper that denounces policies and politicians with some authority. But the New York Times also runs 4,000 word stories, usually in the same edition, that examine every facet of an issue and then the editorial page weighs in. New York Times editorials are based on facts, which the editorials also cite. The Seattle Times political editorials rarely reference any real reporting to back up its statements. They're not editorials. They're tantrums.
Take the aggressive panhandling bill: Editorial writer Joni Balter called it "solid, rational piece of legislation" despite an avalanche of evidence to the contrary. The Seattle Times did a little reporting on the proposal, but spilled most of its ink on a blow job called "Councilmember Tim Burgess crafts a deliberate style," a piece that focused on process and players and ignored the proposed policy and its likely impact (and suspect legality!). The Seattle Times said nothing in that piece about the Seattle Human Rights Commission vote four days earlier, when commissioners found that the bill was based on misrepresented information, created major problems for due process, and essentially found the government could make no compelling case for the bill. The Seattle Times coverage took Burgess's crime stats at face value, ignoring how the crime spike (thefts) were not related to the street disorder it claimed to solve (assaults and robberies). So audacious ledes that make sweeping claims that the "mayoral dust storm is working not to make city streets safer and more welcoming for businesses and customers" isn't supported by facts. And Balter's grandiose statements like "The council missed a huge chance to boost downtown and neighborhood business districts" should be ignored when when all the data proves this bill would have no effect whatsoever on public safety.
McGinn's not fooled—nobody is fooled—by your concern trolling, Seattle Times. No one believes you supported him and are now dismayed, when, from the outset, you were campaigning against him during the election and continue to campaign against him now. You want a tunnel at any cost; he's trying to protect the city from cost overruns. You campaigned against light rail; he wants to speed it up and build more. He listened to an avalanche of opposition to the aggressive solicitation bill (208 calls to 8); you listened to downtown interests that provided you with unsupported anecdotal data. You don't like the mayor and you're running a campaign against him. And no, the people who voted for him aren't going to listen to you, and he's not going to listen to you.
Nor should he. You're wrong more than you're right and your political compass sucks.