Last Friday, September 19, at the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission board meeting, I couldn't help feeling indignant on behalf of the Times reporters who were also there covering the unprecedented hearings. The Ethics Commission was punishing a council member, Compton, for unethical behavior (can you say private planes and basketball tickets?). Compton would have to pay a $3,000 fine and recuse himself from future council votes. The meeting was the latest chapter in a story the Times' reporters had been steadfastly following: After getting gifts from Paul Allen's firm, Vulcan Inc., Compton authored a resolution rubber-stamping Allen's South Lake Union designs. (Compton also netted more than $13K in campaign contributions from Vulcan.) The news about Compton's iffy principles wasn't surprising: This was the same guy who did a last-second 180 on the budget last year after Mayor Nickels slipped him a threatening note. (That story was in the Times too.) It was only a matter of time before a guy with integrity like that would wind up in an unprecedented ethics investigation.
Your reporters certainly saw it coming. They've got Compton's number. (I'll never forget exchanging incredulous looks with one Times reporter during Compton's shameless note gaffe.) Unfortunately, I guess the Times' editorial board doesn't seek input from the Times' well-informed reporters. Check out your paper's embarrassing August 22 endorsement of Compton: "With his credibility intact, [Compton's] committed to help the council restore a reputation tarnished by a lack of focus and maturity...." Less than a week later, that bit of comically uninformed writing was proven wrong. Compton, already caught in the strip-club mess, was caught in the Vulcan embarrassment.
I run into your reporters all the time. They see what I see. And they can tell you that your radar on Compton's ethics isn't the only thing wrong with your endorsement. You cite just two reasons for voting for Compton: his work trimming the mayor's fire levy and his heavy lifting on Seattle City Light. First of all, the effort to reform Nickels' fire levy was led by Richard McIver; Compton opposed the effort. Second, while Compton was excellent on City Light, didn't his work completely contradict the record of the Times' editorial-page favorite, council member Margaret Pageler? A little consistency wouldn't hurt.
You've still got the November election to make good. Take a clue from your reporters' write-up of last week's Ethics Commission meeting where Compton negotiated a suspect agreement--so meaningless that his "recusal" doesn't even apply to the kind of legislation that triggered the ethics investigation in the first place. Clever guy, Compton. I dare the Times to respect its reporters' work and pull its Compton endorsement.