I spend much of my life watching city council meetings so boring that I leave them wondering if I still understand the English language. But then, every once in a while, something fun happens. What's making it all worthwhile this week?
Council Member Bruce Harrell calling speakers at city council "a bunch of assholes." And there's video! See it right here:
Can you guess who he was talking about?
If you're a regular Slog reader, I bet you can! Say it with me, everyone... Slog favorite Sam Bellomio and his trusty sidekick Alex Zimmerman! If you want to watch the whole exchange, start at 2:40 for the public comment period. At around 5:08, the ever-classy Zimmerman calls Council Member Sally Bagshaw a "fucking bitch" for not giving him a 10-second extension on his testimony.
Zimmerman and Bellomio showed up to this public utilities committee meeting on Tuesday to do their usual shtick. They've been at it for more than a year, and it runs the gamut from entertaining performance art to incredibly offensive. Sometimes they compare the council to Nazi Germany, sometimes they call Tim Burgess a dick, sometimes they just call everybody "crooks" and "idiots." Harrell's statement that they are "a bunch of assholes" would be nearly universally described by familiar parties as factually accurate. In fact, these guys are such regulars and so disruptive that the city council actually changed public comment rules because of them.
If you can't watch the video, here's what happens: Zimmerman's really staying on a theme this time, praising Council Member Kshama Sawant for donating much of her salary while condemning Bagshaw, the committee chair, for being too wealthy. That's when the wheels come off a little. Harrell interrupts to ask why that's relevant to the public utilities committee (public testimony must be related to topics before the committee), and Zimmerman asks Bagshaw for extra speaking time to make up for the interruption. When she declines, he says as he walks away, "Fucking bitch."
After Bellomio takes his turn testifying and the council moves on to the rest of their agenda, Harrell says, in what he thought was an aside but was picked up by the table mic, "Those guys are a bunch of assholes." It looks like he's saying it to Sawant, and it sounds like maybe she laughs, but I can't tell for sure.
Asked for comment on the exchange, Harrell says by e-mail, "While I will defend political speech fully and unconditionally, I will not defend any person's right to be mean spirited and disrespectful solely as a means to provoke others and disrupt the public engagement process." His full, righteously pissed-off quote is below the jump.
We've said it before, and I say it again: Anyone who makes Slog a full-throated defender of the Seattle City Council truly must be an asshole.
I have watched the Council passively observe these two men remain disruptive, mean spirited and make untrue assertions in Council Chambers with complete impunity. Their actions have created an unwelcoming environment for other speakers during public comment and have made a mockery of meaningful public debate. We have received feedback from people stating they avoid coming to chambers because of the charade carried on by these men. While I will defend political speech fully and unconditionally, I will not defend any person’s right to be mean spirited and disrespectful solely as a means to provoke others and disrupt the public engagement process. We have revised our Council chamber rules of public speaking to specifically address their antics and remain committed to open and protected political speech.