Joni Balter: This week I decided we needed more women on the city council.
Host Steve Scher: Why is that?
Balter: Because look at the vote. The people who sort of understood a feeling of small in stature, vulnerable—all three women on the city council voted for the [aggressive-panhandling] ordinance.
Eli Sanders: I think Jean Godden [who voted for the bill] can bench-press more than Nick Licata [who voted against the bill].
Knute Berger: I was gonna say... Nick's not exactly a linebacker.
Balter: I'm not saying they're all linebackers, but be serious about this for a second. Because, I would actually like to challenge the four no-votes, the men, to walk down Second Avenue with me in high heels and holding a baby.
Scher: That's the challenge?
Scher: You know, I'd like to see that.
Balter: I know, that's why I thought of it.
Sanders: Actually, if you're willing, on behalf of The Stranger, we will take you up on that. I don't know how many of us, but I am certain that the men of The Stranger will be willing to do that with you.
Scher: We're going to be recording and videotaping that.
Balter: No, seriously, there is a serious point here. The calls, and the e-mails, and all of this—it wasn't only a female issue, but I'll tell you something, I had a feeling that we kinda missed that... That, you know, if you're small in stature—I mean, maybe women shouldn't wear high heels—George Benson, the late city councilmember, used to say women shouldn't wear high heels because the heel's gonna get in the crack of the streets. But, maybe we shouldn't wear them, but we do. And maybe we shouldn't jostle babies, but we do.
Scher: Eli, do you think that you and your associates at The Stranger were considering women in this, and the size and the stature of people.
Sanders: I'm sure we were. I mean, feel free to describe for your listeners my size and stature. And it's not like I work in an office of male linebackers. But...
Balter: That is so rude...
Scher: Wait a minute, you're saying that you're, what, 5'8".
Sanders: Yeah. Uh, yeah. Unless you want to say what's true, which is 5'7".
Scher: 5'7", allright.
Sanders: But, the point is, I don't think that we are—Joni has made the point that [Councilmember] Bruce Harrell, who is a very large man, may not be as intimidated downtown as others. Bruce Harrell is larger than anyone at The Stranger, so if you're making the argument that we don't understand what it might be like to feel a physically imposing presence near you on a downtown street late and night and wonder whether you're safe—that's within the realm of possibility for us. But what we were looking at was the data. And the data about aggressive panhandling, about menacing pedestrians downtown, we felt, did not support the kind of fear that was being promoted by [Councilmember Tim] Burgess and the Downtown Seattle Association, and also the editorial page of The Seattle Times as they were trying to rally support for this bill. And, again, it's not just The Stranger, and it's not just men with incredibly large muscles that are against this bill. You've got the ACLU, you've got several city councilmembers, you've got state legislators, you've got homeless advocates in this city and around the country. So, I don't think it's credible to say that this is just a, sort of, arrogance on the part of people who are never victimized by crime...
Scher: Joni Balter and Eli Sanders are going to test out the safety of the city by wearing high heels, holding a baby, and walking down First Avenue at about 7:30, 8 o'clock in the evening.
Sanders: I just need a baby.
Balter: You need to rent a few.
Scher: You have high heels?
Sanders: Got the heels, yeah.