Today's winner: Stranger Editorial Director Dan Savage.

Savage will receive a prestigious Webby Special Achievement award in New York later this month for his "It Gets Better" project, a YouTube video series aimed at combating bullying against LGBT youth.

The project, which started when Savage and his partner Terry Miller made the first "It Gets Better" video, has become a national phenomenon, with hundreds of video testimonials by young people, celebrities, and politicians including President Obama---and a commercial for Google Chrome. The ad has also been showing up on top of the New York Times website. (We want to be mad that we can't escape the gaze of our ex-boss, but this is pretty awesome.)

Today's Loser: The facts.

The first casualty of political campaigning, as the saying goes, is the truth. The Stranger has been in campaign mode for the anti-tunnel referendum for a while now and has continued to publish, on their blog and in print, some distorted numbers.

As we posted earlier this week (after the Stranger's inaccurate reporting was obliviously entered as evidence in Elizabeth Campbell's anti-tunnel lawsuit) , the paper has been  reporting that city attorney Pete Holmes has spent "nearly $80,000" trying to keep Referendum 1, the other anti-tunnel campaign, off the ballot.

The Stranger's story alleged that Holmes and his staff had spent nearly 1,500 hours on work related to fighting an initiative and a referendum against the tunnel, work that added up to nearly $80,000 in taxpayer-funded attorney time.

However, a look at the timesheets provided to the Stranger confirms that many of the hours the Stranger counted as work on tunnel litigation were actually spent on other tunnel-related work, such as reviewing environmental documents, briefing city council members at public meetings, and meeting with the Gates Foundation about their concerns over the north tunnel portal, which would abut the foundation's new campus.

When we asked the Stranger about this, news editor Dominic Holden told us (and the PI too)  that the city attorney's office told him unequivocally that all the hours included in their response to his records request pertained directly to tunnel litigation, and he accused Holmes's office of retroactively "mischaracterizing" their response to his request. However, emails from the city attorney's office to the Stranger show that isn't true either.

Today, PubliCola got a copy of an email the city attorney's public records officer, Naomi Hillyard, sent to Holden on April 19, nearly a month before the paper's initial story ran under the headline, "City attorney's office has spent nearly $80,000 to keep the tunnel off ballot" (on May 12). The email shows that the city attorney's office made it clear the records they provided to the Stranger included not just hours spent on the tunnel lawsuit, but attorney and staff time spent on completely unrelated tunnel business.

"Please note that the reports for [project numbers] EP02-039, LU04-032, and M10-069 encompass time reported for general project numbers set up for the various issues related to Alaskan Way Viaduct. Individuals used these general project numbers for various aspects of the Alaskan Way Viaduct including, but not limited to, the referability issue and the lawsuits. These are being provided to you, even though they are not project numbers specific to the subject of your request, in the interest of being over inclusive."

In an email to Holden today, Hillyard informed him that all future communications between the public disclosure office and the Stranger would have to be in writing, not by telephone, presumably so that the Stranger wouldn't mischaracterize conversations in the future.
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