Maybe it speaks to the lack of sexy city issues (no Strippergate, WTO, or circus animals), but this year's city council races have been unusually ugly and acrimonious. David Della has accused Tim Burgess of being a Republican, Burgess has called Della an empty suit, and hardly a day goes by without an overheated volley from the Venus Velazquez or Bruce Harrell campaign. (Velazquez accused Harrell of being unethical because he planned to accept an award from UW during the campaign; he accused her of race-baiting because of comments she made at a candidate forum.)
Last week's revelation was a well- substantiated rumor that Forward Seattle, a big-business PAC founded by two consultants with money from Vulcan and most of the downtown establishment, plans to spend most of its substantial war chest (currently more than $100,000) creating pro-Velazquez campaign literature. Election rules allow PACs to make unlimited expenditures to promote or pan a candidate or cause, as long as they don't coordinate it with the campaign. Both Velazquez and her consultant Lisa MacLean say they have no idea what Forward Seattle's plans, if any, are. But Harrell believes Velazquez and Forward Seattle have communicated, noting that many of Forward Seattle's contributors also have given to Velazquez. And his consultant Christian Sinderman notes that Velazquez came out of the primary $30,000 in the red. "I've never seen a city council candidate send themselves that far into debt in a primary," Sinderman says. To see a group emerge right after the primary to bail Velazquez out strikes him as fishy, Harrell adds. Forward Seattle cofounder Don Stark wouldn't say what the group planned to do with the money.
VELAZQUEZ'S CAMPAIGN has been shopping around the story that Harrell has a teenage son who is not featured in his family-centric campaign ads. Harrell's ads do include many photos and mentions of his family—mentioning three children with his wife, Joanne—and his experience as a "youth mentor" and Sunday school teacher. Harrell says he sees his son frequently and has "never missed a child-support payment in my life." Efforts to reach the mother were unsuccessful.
A RECORDS REQUEST to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) about the infamous intersection where a dump truck struck and killed cyclist Bryce Lewis revealed many complaints over the years about bike and pedestrian safety at the intersection. "Crosswalks at both locations are very faded." "It is impossible to see bicyclists and runners coming south through this intersection, until they shoot right in front of you." And, chillingly: "With horror, today, I watched as two cyclists were hit by a truck. One was killed... I wasn't surprised to see this happen... It is totally scary to take a right from Eastlake onto Fuhrman because... you never know when a bicyclist is going to come up on you."