Trash Talk

Well, he's not the worst public speaker I've ever heard, but King County Executive (and now gubernatorial hopeful) Ron Sims is definitely the top of mediocrity when it comes to speechifying. I'm not lying when I say I was once so amazed at how exactly trite one of Sims' speeches was (he led with a "touching" anecdote about his son's baseball glove, and then drew an analogy between baseball gloves and transit technology) that I was compelled to file a public records request to see if Sims' consultants had supplied the story from some stock Speeches for Dummies book.

Look, there are plenty of reasons not to support Sims: (1) He failed to fund basic responsibilities like parks in the budget, then had the nerve to sneak a parks levy onto an off-season election ballot; (2) He lackadaisically oversaw and blindly supported Sound Transit--Sims removed budget ace Rob McKenna from the beleaguered agency's board after McKenna, a light rail critic, was the only member who was right about the agency's billion-dollar miscalculations; (3) He oversaw Florida-style election fiascos after being warned repeatedly about election department problems; (4) He didn't have the honesty to publicly come out against the monorail, but worked behind the scenes to kill it--even having his deputy chief of staff quietly (unethically?) work for the opposition. These are all reasons I'll bring to The Stranger's editorial board when it's time for this paper to decide whom to pick.

But the actual reason I can't stand Sims and don't want him to run for governor is this: I cannot bear the thought of listening to this guy's hackneyed speeches from now (he declared on July 29) until November 2004. And what drives me craziest is that Sims' Toastmasters©-style speechmaking is exactly what people seem to like about him.

My God, if Mr. Pseudo-Preacher is Seattle's idea of a talented orator, it's no wonder the quality of local politics is so underwhelming. Why do people fall for this guy's artificial eloquence? (Then again, this is the same town that believes Mark Sidran is funny, just like Woody Allen.)

Ugggh. So predictable. Did you ever notice how Sims lowers his voice to a whisper when he wants to make a "somber" and "important" point? AND YELLS WHEN HE DRIVES THE POINT HOME!

Who do I think is a good speaker? Bill Clinton is fantastic. I get chills thinking about his 1993 healthcare speech. Reverend Jesse Jackson is another model speaker; I had the pleasure of watching Jackson in person when he stole the show at the 1995 Million Man March. Locally, understated police chief Gil Kerlikowske is the classiest public speaker Seattle's got--a straight shooter who doesn't condescend or exaggerate. And newcomer city council candidate Darryl Smith, who brings a measured, urgent confidence to his engaging talk, is one to watch.

This may sound like a petty reason not to support Sims, but I can't help but notice that his loud pontificating is a cover for his lacking record.