Jodi Jaecks:</b> one step closer to changing citywide policy.
  • Kelly O
  • Jodi Jaecks: one step closer to changing citywide policy.
Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent Christopher Williams will consider revising the rules for all people using the city's public pools—not just one breast cancer survivor who was granted an exception to swim topless.

"We recognize we may need to make a wholesale policy change," Williams said in an interview with The Stranger this morning, while adding that he can't comment on what that new policy might look like yet.

The announcement comes after a growing controversy, sparked by a story in yesterday morning's Stranger, that has reached international media markets. Yesterday evening, the department reversed a months-long decision barring breast cancer survivor Jodi Jaecks from swimming topless in Medgar Evers Pool. Earning that exception was a small victory for Jaecks, but it hardly amounted to meaningful public policy change.

But Williams, a cancer survivor himself who explains that he only learned of Jaecks's situation yesterday, says he's extended an apology to Jaecks and an invitation to be part of the rule-changing process.

"Sometimes we make mistakes, but I think our commitment is what we try to correct those mistakes," Williams says.

The department's next step is assembling a small work group of five-to-eight people—mostly health care and legal professionals—to examine the current parks policy and advise how it can be made more inclusive for more than just cancer survivors:

"Frankly, I don’t know all the situations that we may encounter," Williams says. "I think we want a diverse set of eyes on this so the decision is not made in a vacuum... We are only talking about double-mastectomy patients right now, but there may be a whole world of disabilities or differently figured people who we recommend some policy guidelines for."

"It's time the rule be reviewed," agreed Seattle City Council member Sally Bagshaw, chair of the council's parks committee, in a phone conversation this morning. She then dismissed the argument—once used by the parks department to deny Jaecks use of its facilities—that seeing women's mastectomy scars would disrupt the pool's "family friendly" environment:

"It strikes me that when someone’s gone through something this serious," Bagshaw says, "people can and should take care of each other."