News Jan 9, 2024 at 10:50 am

So Much for Good Governance!

"Off with her head!" Says Council President Sara Nelson. Screengrab from Seattle Channel



Council President Nelson hired someone with much more experience in the role. By the Stranger’s own account, Handy had served in this office for two or three years, while Noble had worked there for well more than a decade. Why is having a more-experienced employee a bad thing for Seattle?

Meanwhile, then-CM Sawant hired and fired city staff in the District 3 office without regard to prior experience, performance, or merit. The sole determining criterion seemed to be the employee’s standing within Socialist Alternative:

If the Stranger ever emitted the slightest peep of protest against these hiring practices, I must have missed it.

‘Nelson and some of her council colleagues seem desperate to return to a time before the nominal “progressive sweep” of the 2019 municipal election.’

Seattle’s general election results in 2021 and 2023 seem to agree this is a good idea.

How about the Stranger survey some long-time Seattle residents with the question, “did you have a higher quality of life here in 2013, or over the past few years” and see what results this obtains?


Obviously we should have hired Sawant to fill this position.


Regardless of what you think of this move - and I'm sure the trolls that hang out here love it - Sara Nelson is a very, very stupid person.


Bring back Sidran!


I'm loving this new council so far just for the sheer entertainment value of watching TS and their progressive allies completely melt down over every change. As noted by @1 there was nary a peep from anyone when Sawant lowered the boom on her staff for simply having the audacity to push back on her "movement". I can hardly wait until we hear who has submitted their names for Mosqueda's open seat this week to read the diatribes about how they should select someone aligned with Mosqueda to take over her seat. Mike Mcginn already started the comedy show by suggesting Shuan Scott. Last time there was an open seat, from Tim Burgess, who was a moderate the 2017, the council at the time replaced him with Kirsten Harris-Talley who of course was completely like him political (lol)


@6: ‘As noted by @1 there was nary a peep from anyone when Sawant lowered the boom on her staff for simply having the audacity to push back on her "movement".‘

Sawant’s actions seem to have been even more egregious than that; the city employees she terminated had lost an internal power struggle within Socialist Alternative, and the employees she hired onto the city payroll seemed to be loyal Socialist Alternative apparatchiks who needed jobs. ( So, there seems to have been some good old-fashioned patronage in play as well.

The Stranger, presumably knowing all of this, repeatedly endorsed her for office afterwards.


@5 progressives didn't boot Noble he left Central Staff in 2014 to run the Budget Office ( Speaking of "weak wackctivist volunteer propaganda," you absolute clown.

Also lol at the usual suspects immediately resorting to "bu-bu-but Sawant..."


Wait, a super progressive Council President hired him at one unit in the Legislative Dept, but heading up a different unit is a bridge too far??? Noble is a very experienced financial analyst who has shown his talents under a range of Mayors and elected Councilmembers. The City is lucky to have him work in his many capacities.


@8 its not bu-bu-but Sawant, I think its sad this woman lost her job solely to due to idealogical/personal differences. I've experienced it myself and it really sucks. The issue here is TS opining this is some great travesty of justice and abuse of power when in the past they have had no issues with similar behavior. It goes to the continued idealogical dogma of progressives good - anything else bad.


@10 are you disappointed to see alleged pragmatist Nelson engaging in the same type of ideology-driven abuse of power as did Sawant? Does this change your impression of Nelson?


This article is dishonest hack garbage. Not in a "there's two sides to the story" way, but in a "The Stranger is printing complete falsehoods that really should be retracted" way.

Hannah claims that Noble is a "proponent of fiscal austerity," linking to a post from the Washington Retail Association. When you actually click through and read that post, it links to the late great Seattle City Council Insight blog, where the author writes this about Noble:

"First of all, it must be said: someone needs to give Ben Noble a medal for nailing the 2021 revenue forecast last November, in a crazy, unprecedented time when predicting the future was nearly impossible....

In other words: Noble went with the pessimistic revenue forecast, and sold it to the Council. His office projected $1.573 billion in “general fund” revenues in November, and today’s forecast increased that to $1.594 billion for a net change of 1.3% — and in the good direction. In the world of large organization budgeting, that would be a bullseye in good times; in 2020, that’s a freaking miracle."

There's a link to Noble's presentation here:

You might be wondering, where exactly does Noble say anything justifying Hannah's claim that he is a "proponent of austerity"? The answer is nowhere, because he doesn't actually say that. The Washington Retail Association might, but that's because they're spinning Noble's words to suit their agenda. In other words, Hannah is lying.

To recap: The Stranger's claim is Noble is bad because he is a proponent of austerity. The proof in the article is a link. When you click on the link, you are eventually led to a post that explains in detail how Noble's role was to make revenue estimates. These estimates could in turn be used by policymakers to make budgetary decisions. There's no evidence presented anywhere that Noble advocated for austerity and is what The Stranger says he is.

What the SCCI blog post makes clear is that Noble is exceptionally good at his job, and that instead of taking any sort of political posture, he's a numbers guy. He's not making value judgments about or advocating in favor of austerity but instead is estimating how much revenue will be available. In a time during COVID when there was enormous uncertainty and almost everybody else got it wrong, Noble got it right.

The Stranger's takeaway from this is to lie and claim that he's bad because Sara Nelson hired him and they hate her so much they will criticize every decision she makes. In contrast, any rational human being's takeaway from articles like this one should be that nothing The Stranger writes holds up to the slightest degree of scrutiny. Hannah Krieg owes Ben Noble a public apology for printing an article that lies about him.


I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next person, but this seems like a real stretch. Noble is an objectively better choice to run central staff, and Nelson already knows him from her time on Conlin's staff. Also, Noble was initially hired by Licata, so it's not like he's some conservative plant. Finally, Noble has been involved with city government for nearly 2 1/2 decades, so elevating him isn't really cleaning house.


Hannah should try to remember she works for the Stranger, not DSA (although we haven’t seen TS’s books so maybe Hannah is simply part of their ad buy). Garbage articles like this do nothing to inform readers - are solely hatchet jobs against those not in the good graces of DSA.



I keep thinking: Noble sounds like a good bet during choppy budget times ahead.


@11 there is no evidence it’s ideological. That’s just TS take on it. It sucks for her but it’s not illegal or unethical. This was true for Sawant as well. What was more troubling with Sawant was the allegation she wasn’t even doing the firing it was SA. This is a nothing burger though in the grand scheme of things and I’m just calling out TS hypocrisy of pretending to care about good governance when in the past they could care less.


@8, @11: I believe Council President Nelson hired Noble because he had more experience than the current holder of that office, not for the ideological reasons the Stranger wrongly stated. Other commenters have since noted Noble did a really great job, and Nelson knew of his good work personally.

I brought up Sawant because the Stranger gave her a complete free pass when she had indeed hired and fired city staffers for purely ideological reasons — and she may have been using the city payroll for patronage, too. We’re supposed to believe such behaviors didn’t bother the Stranger in the slightest back then, but are somehow so objectionable now that even the merest interpretation they might be happening warrants an entire post?


Ben Noble is an incredibly intelligent, diligent public servant and residents of the City of Seattle are lucky to continue to benefit from his work.

I spent 15 years at a city department and worked with him on budget issues during that time. We didn’t always agree, but I knew I was heard and if the facts support a policy argument or budget request, you could win him over. He is the literal antithesis of an idealogue.


Dear@8, perhaps you could read the article you twit, where you would clearly see that Noble left the role in 2013. Eight years before Gonzalez gave the job to an equity activist in 2021.

Reading is fun-damental!


lol…conservative city council
But the progressives have done such a bang up job reaching new heights in murders and opioid deaths. We won’t even talk about their successes with the homeless situation.
Great job comrades.


Gen Z tears...delicious. Author needs out come out of her room at mommy and daddy's house every once in a while.


@19 so when you wrote "So-called progs get an electoral mandate, roll in, and boot the person holding the office for a professional equity bureaucrat and activist" who were you referring to as the person holding the office? Who did "so-called progs" "boot" or were you just typing nonsense?


Expanding on @16 The "evidence" this was politically motivated is:

"A City insider called Handy’s firing 'ridiculous.'”


"Current Puget Sound Sage Executive Director Christina Shimizu said the news of Handy’s termination shocked her."

Seems pretty thin to me, but then again, I'm not paid to generate page views for the Stranger.


@24 when someone gets fired and no reason is given, and the people who worked with them are surprised and offended, what are observers supposed to think? Nelson should explain to her constituents why she made this abrupt move if she doesn't want us to speculate


@25 "when someone gets fired and no reason is given, and the people who worked with them are surprised and offended, what are observers supposed to think?"

I guess observers could assume this is the result of a conspiracy to eliminate progressives from administrative positions within city government. But, for all the reasons set out above, there's really no reason to believe that.

Also, on the "the people who worked with them are surprised and offended" issue, all you are going off are the impressions of an anonymous "city insider," whatever that is, and the "the Internal-focused Acting Co-Director" of non-profit.


@28 winning politicians replacing subordinates with others with whom they are more aligned politically isn't a "conspiracy" it's common. Absent any evidence of poor performance it's the most obvious explanation. There's really no reason to believe that wasn't exactly what happened here


The former employers of the staff of the "Conservative" Council:

State Senate Democrats
Governor Granholm of Michigan (the ultraconservative Energy Secretary who restored Oppenheimer
International Press Institute
Evergreen State College
Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson
Marriage Equality Washington State 2012
Director of the Port of Seattle’s Office of Social Responsibility
Rep. Pramila Jayapal
State Senator Reuven Carlyle
Nevada Conservation League
US Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

Jesus, Dan & Tim, isn't this enough embarrassing to you yet?

Please wait...

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