Sally Clark Says I'm Trying to "Intimidate" the City Council


Dominc Holden? Intimidation? Why I never!

Other than various times you published lists of names and addresses of people you disagree with. One time it was Eastside Republicans, right? Now it's a council member's home. It's not like Sally Clark pulled this right out of thin air.

So. You know. Shoe fits, right?
sally knows the stranger is a front for the right-wing national chamber of commerce. i tell people that every day right in front of dominic. fuck dominic.
This is advocacy journalism at its best and most controversial, Dominic. Good on ya for taking some of the heat as you hold their feet up to the fire. Someone needs to.
I support your stance regarding aPodments generally but I think publishing emails is unnecessary. Sally Clark is a public figure, yes, but there is the presumption - at least there should be - that two people engaged in peer-to-peer email communication should expect that what is said cannot be posted, verbatim, in the Slog.

You could have paraphrased this, or selectively quoted relevant points [and yes... paraphrasing Ms. Clark - who has no clear policy position other than a commitment to procedural best-practices - is a grim exercise.

Still this seems like a pretty clear invasion of privacy.
Okay, you're a dick.
What @2 said.

Remember, the concept that waterfront properties near a lake near a landmark icon would go up in value and be developed to 20-40 stories is just so unusual that it has never ever happened in any major city, other than in 100 percent of them.
"Advocacy journalism" for apodments. I think good old-fashioned "whoring" is more accurate.
@4) A public official writing from a city e-mail account is a public record; it isn't a private communication. She was even sending it to a reporter who was asking for her position on the record.
I wouldn't have been as confrontational with Clark, who was stonewalling you. (And Nick! Of all people! I'm so disappointed.) But good for you for picking up this flag... because no other news outlet is. I know Citizens United has sold our democracy to the highest bidder, but this specious argument to block affordable housing is disgraceful. I'm particularly surprised that Licata supports it, or at least doesn't oppose it. (Come on, man! Am I missing something?) How many times have I voted for him?

But I wouldn't say the moratorium is dead with much confidence. There's still time for rich NIMBYs to finagle and buy the support they need.

I'm willing to give Conlin my vote just over this.
Dominic Holden. Valiant slayer of the pure and innocent Seattle city council. Good for Clark for sticking up for her positions, oh wait, she didn't do that.
@8. You can do this, but should you? There is an ethical question of how journalism should proceed, and an a question of editorial judgement.

It's just tacky. The statements within the email are fair game, but this whole presentation is a cheap shot.

I'm old. Sorry.
Dom- her point is that posting pictures of Rasmussen's home and his address is a dick move. And she's right. You're encouraging people to go to his house, which is a shitty thing to do to an elected official.

Didn't you guys get in trouble for this a couple of years ago?
"No, no. You should own that putting the link out there is intended to intimidate. It's intended to make Tom look like he doesn't care about or understand affordability. "

Um, what? "Intimidation" means threatening to cause real and tangible harm, like trying to get someone to throw a rock through his window. Trying to reduce his job security by making him look out-of-touch is normal contact-sport politics and if Sally Clark can't handle that, she shouldn't be in politics. Seriously, what a baby.
This is not a popular form of affordable housing. This is a form of housing that is affordable, and that appeals to a certain segment of the population while ignoring others.

It's nice to hear you rally on for the kind-of poor young single up-and-comers (which is really who this housing is for), but how about some housing for the actual working poor families? Advocacy for this type of housing will eventually ignore the true type of housing, even if it is a 1 or 2 bedroom apt, that needs to be built.
I find it offensive that people find it offensive when politicians are pushed to answer questions.
It seems to me that it is Clark, not Dom, who is saying "we shouldn't discuss all the options". She's discussing discussing the options, which isn't the same thing at all. She appears to be bending over backwards to avoid even mentioning apodments, and don't think it's because she's an aficionado of attractive language.

@14's got a point, though. Apodments make life easier for single young people trying to stretch out that dorm lifestyle another few years. But they do nothing at all for the people who are really fucked in this city and in this economy: people with low or even medium incomes. But then, neither does anything else; it's off to Auburn you go.
@15. Which is a misreading of the various criticism leveled here. Is it up for debate that said Council President is not a strategic communications bot?
Dominic, No you are not being anything but a reporter exposing the Truth and not trying covering it up.
I have heard and seen so much passive aggressive double talk brought on by the City's elected and City appointed committees and commissions and City department agencies it would gag a maggot.
I have lots of e-mails to and from the City Council members and the former and present mayor that might trump the run around non answers you are receiving from our "stellar" elected and appointed ones.
And yes anything written to you and/or from anyone is a Public Document. I was thought this at a convention by the WA State Coalition For Open Government. Heck you can even Google a low income housing agency's apartment building(s) name and/or the address and get the Bed Bug Report(s) for said building(s).
You keep up the good work of reporting and digging for the Truth, as there are not many like you out there and I know it is a tough job and sometimes, as I received, Retaliation and Harassment.
I was finally told by someone within the City "it is what it is, just forget it" What a thing to say and attitude to have.
Bad stenographer! No cookie for you!
I admire the needling very much! Reminds me of many a family reunion. Is it right to say that support for apodments makes other affordable housing less likely to be built?
Being dickish in the face of power is sometimes all we have.

Keep up the good work.
Kudos to you, Dom.
I wish Conlin were running for mayor. He seems to understand these issues better than the other folks (O'Brien excepted). Even if you disagree with Conlin on an issue, he lays it out there. Most of the council is weak and wishy-washy. I wish they would just come out and say "Yes, it will increase the rental costs for the people in the area, and that will indeed trickle through the rest of the city, but parking is important. We don't want too many people living in one area unless the builder provides plenty of parking."

By the way, that is really what this is all about. The exact same building can be built with fewer units and no one complains. Somehow building a unit with 7 kitchens and 30 apartments is taking advantage of a loophole. But building the same building with 7 really big units is OK. No review, no parking requirement, just build it.
It sounds like the city council member is trying to intimidate the reporter to me.
I've hated Sally Clark and her pandering since day one. Pro-affordability my ass. I work at a housing non-profit. Apodments are great-- they build affordable housing WITHOUT public money. Let a thousand Apodments bloom.

I normally hate Conlin too, but for once he's right, so credit where it's due. Thank you Conlin, O'Brien, and Harrell.
@4) A public official writing from a city e-mail account is a public record; it isn't a private communication. She was even sending it to a reporter who was asking for her position on the record.

How little respect for your readers do you have, Dominic? That's complete and utter bullshit.
@26) What part is inaccurate?
@2 This is not advocacy journalism at its best. This is, at best, sandbox bullying. The problem is that Dominic doesn't know the difference. Particularly when it comes to City Council.

A reporter shouldn't have to stoop to name calling and intimidation to get a story or a quote. There's muckraking and then there's falling back on schoolyard tactics. Unfortunately I think we're looking at the latter.
Good for you Dominic!

13...completely agree.
I prefer to have those firetraps egg carton pods out of my neighborhood. Peace and serenity is why folks move the 'bedroom' communities away from the riffraff, loud rock concert block parties, pit bulls, and meth heads.
@26 You are wrong, wrong, wrong.
I worked for the city of Seattle for years. We were constantly reminded that anything produced on a city computer is public; ergo, never write anything that you wouldn't want showing up in the newspaper (or some blog). I'm sure Sally Clark is well aware of that little rule of thumb.
@27 anyone with a brain can see that 1) it sure is meant to be intimidating to post a picture of a persons house - public figure or not and 2) the e-mail conversation was indeed personal - from an official account or not. Arguing otherwise is to spit in [our] faces.
@32: There's no doubt the emails (as well as the property records) are public records.

Which doesn't mean it's not a dick move to publish them like a petulant little schoolboy who can't get his way.
@32) You're wrong again. I didn't post a photo--read the post--I linked to a property report that was already online.

@33) I do hate it when I don't get my way... but weirdly, it looks like the moratorium is dead, so this isn't one of those times.
Dominic - just because information is freely available on the Internet doesn't absolve a reporter from reporting on that information ethically which means respecting privacy and in ways that you yourself would want to be treated.
Honestly, in a city where there is a serious shortage of housing inventory, I can't believe that the council continues to attempt to block anything that might begin addressing the housing shortage. The moratorium on the mother-in-law apartments was incredibly short sighted, and even if you personally would not want to live in one, doing the same to the aPodments is not the answer. We live in a desirable city and the only solution to keep it so is not to keep people out, but to increase the housing stock (of all types!) to allow more people to benefit from living in a vibrant city.
@27 Sorry, but Dom is right about the public nature of city and state employees' email accounts. There is no nice/not nice about it. City and state employee email is subject to access upon request by any citizen. Clark knows the law and she knows that when talking to Dom, online or off she is performing her public service job publicly.
Clark should be glad there are a few reporters still working who care enough to engage on this stuff. I hope she realizes how rare and lucky it is to have someone always poking at you to do better, to live up to your promise. Who isn't your mother.
Although I love this paper, this is a prime example of how The Stranger has become more and more like a lobbying firm, and less and less like a news organization. It is unfortunate, because some very good reporting happens at The Stranger, but using the paper (any newspaper) as a way to push an agenda is wrong.

That is what Fox News does.

Give us objective journalism and report on the issue, not just on what elements of the issue serves your own political agenda. And BTW, I am on your side on the apodment issue...
The only journalists with an ethical obligation to be objective are those that claim to be objective. If any of The Stranger's staff have ever made such a claim, it would be news to me.
Dominic -

Without the link, your article would have read "...according to King County property records, they own a house valued near $1 million." Source cited and everything.

If your aim wasn't to intimidate, wouldn't that text WITHOUT the link have made the exact point that you claim over and over was your only intention?

That you respond with pearl-clutching shock that anyone would construe as intimidation publishing the address and photo of someone's HOME makes you look ridiculously dense or completely disingenuous.

And then splitting hairs between linking and publishing - and THEN equating publishing the link to readers Googling it themselves (LOL!) - doesn't make your claim look any less ridiculous.

You fucked up, Dominic. Just own it, and maybe actually learn a lesson this time around.
I feel compelled to redress my flippant retort in @30.

Zoning is key. Having apodments sandwiched between two single houses, or even w/mother-in-laws, will torpedo those adjacent house values, or let's just say risk depreciating them.
Now, you can say "oh boo hoo" on those homeowners all you want, but it doesn't negate their loss on a very sizable investment they worked their whole lives for.
A better zoning would be to restrict apodments to blocks of their own or flanked not by homes, but by trendy shops and boutiques. That's making a win-win situation!
Apodments = housing for college educated white middle class hipsters going boheme for a few years who don't want to live in affordable housing near actual colored people but in a cool 'hood filled with other white hipsters.

If it is clearly not intimidating to post a link with information regarding the address and picture of a person's place of residence, then perhaps you could quiet those in disagreement by posting a link that leads to your home address and a picture of your residence.

If you do that, then you trump everyone, and if you don't, you not only confirm that it is threatening, but come off looking cowardly to boot.

I'll up the ante, I'll post mine if you post yours... Email me if you accept the challenge. I've made enough unpopular comments here over the years (and will for years to come) that posting my address could actually result in real harm, so I know where my offer lands me. And I'll write an open apology to you, retracting all my statements and agreeing with you wholeheartedly, just to sweeten the pot.
All in all, Dominic has the ingredients and passion for a splendid career as a reporter, investigator, or wherever he directs his passion.
He just needs to, step back and pause, and look before he leaps.
This is solid stuff.

Yes, you send email from an email address, and it's public. I honestly think all publicly available data should be publicly available instantly - it could be a lot cheaper to make public information ALWAYS public than to have to issue public disclosure requests, anyway.

Clark's attempt to pivot to a nonsense issue is telling. She shouldn't support a moratorium - or even design review - on apodments, because she herself knows that design review adds cost to units. The multifamily code update she helped with created "a new streamlined administrative design review process for townhouses" because design review is too expensive for smaller buildings.

This moratorium flies in the face of her values, but she refuses to take a stand against it - why?
Ultimately, your story is a failure. You can tell that from the remarks above. If you had taken the time to report it accurately - even from a point of view, rather than outright opinion - you might have sold your idea. The mistake was in not winnowing things down, quoting from the emails and coming to conclusions. Instead you lazily posted the complete emails and didn't make your point clear, leaving you open to justified criticism and allowing readers to wander away in discussions about use of the email and whether the story was done correctly. The news editor needs a news editor.
Back to the issue, I think its a farce to present a POD ments as affordable housing. As a single mother who lives paycheck to paycheck (Two paychecks a month: one paycheck pays for daycare, and one paycheck pays for rent, the rest of my expenses are handled by second jobs or movin money around, huslin'), I really dont care for the idea that my affordable housing option is going to be a little box somewhere. That little box being the 'affordable' option, driving up the prices of the other affordable options that actually have ROOMS and a kitchen and bathroom and such. NO THANK YOU. Every time something gets scaled down and presented as affordable, it makes the prices of everything else SKYROCKET. Its the 'let them eat cake' of housing and I DONT LIKE IT.
Apodments are a huge profit drive for developers...
Oh shut up #48. It's not about making your life easier. It's about developers and their profits.
Dominic and the posters who say "the emails are public info from" so no foul don't understand the difference between rules and ethics. All behavior that follows 'the rules' is not ethical. Dominic agreed as much when he says his behavior is "dickish." Acting like a prick in public also undermines both his credibility as a journalist as well as his ability to influence elected representatives and voters.

I agree with the posters pointing out that apodments are not affordable housing beyond a very specific demographic (@16: "single young people trying to stretch out that dorm lifestyle another few years"). And building rooming houses serves the interests of the money makers far more than any need to increase housing available to most lower income people.

p.s. I am not a huge fan of Sally Clark's conflict avoidance, nor do I think Tom Rasmussen's call for a moratorium is productive. The only way that would work is if he had an ordinance drafted and lined up the necessary votes first.
Ethically speaking, all email from public officials is public record, and should be posted online instantly when it's sent. Anything else is a barrier to public knowledge.
@Dominic, people in Seattle are the worst, thank you for constantly making everything better. Reading these comments is sad, like coming out in HS and realizing that the only gay group is also a huge racist group.
Ben @ 53: I am an ardent supporter of the state's Public Disclosure Act (I use it a lot), and oppose efforts by municipalities to weaken it. But your suggestion is absurd. How about we make them scan every piece of paper they produce (same day!) and put them on the big PDA server in the cloud? If not all employees, just elected officials? Wire them up like we should with cops on duty? Talk about a burden on local governments; imagine the huffing and puffing against PDA in Olympia if your suggestion were implemented. Not to speak of the destruction of email as a communication tool.

Not only is your suggestion unworkable but your post proves my point about the difficulty many people have distinguishing between ethics and law. Compare with "Legally speaking, all email from public officials is a public record..."