Seattle's News Elixir

Today's Winner: Seattle Weekly, for once.

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Village Voice Media, owner of the Seattle Weekly, ruling that the company is not responsible for the fact that a 14-year-old girl was trafficked on VVM's classified site. The girl ran away from her home in St. Louis and was persuaded to become a child prostitute by a woman named Latasha Howell, whose Backpage ads for the girl included nude photos. Howell pleaded guilty to using interstate commerce to promote prostitution. The judge ruled that

although the teen endured "horrific victimization" at the hands of her pimp, the companies were protected by the Communications Decency Act from liability for what others post there. Citing other court cases that examined similar issues, Mummert said that, "Plaintiff artfully and eloquently attempts to phrase her allegations to avoid the reach of (the communications decency act). Those allegations, however, do not distinguish the complained-of actions of Backpage from any other website that posted content that led to an innocent person's injury. Congress has declared such websites to be immune from suits arising from such injuries. It is for Congress to change the policy that gave rise to such immunity."

Mayor Mike McGinn and the Seattle Police Department have targeted the Weekly for promoting child prostitution through Backpage, which does not screen escorts in person to determine that they're 18 or older. The city has recovered several trafficked children through the site, which provides the paper with millions of dollars in revenue every year.

Today's Loser: State Rep. Marko Liias

Among the pack of current state legislators going after US Rep. Jay Inslee's open seat in the First Congressional District (North King County and Snohomish), state Rep. Marko Liias (D-21, Edmonds) is falling behind his state legislative colleagues-turned-adversaries in endorsements from, well, state legislators.

State Rep. Roger Goodman (D-45, Kirkland), a drug reform advocate who has already been endorsed by Liias' district seatmate, Mary Helen Roberts (D-21), picked up an endorsement from another state house legislator today: Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-32, Lake Forest Park ), chair of the Human Services Committee.

In a statement, Kagi said:

"Roger is clearly one of the most effective legislators in Olympia.  His leadership in Early Learning has changed the policy landscape. His departure will be a huge loss to the State Legislature, but we need Roger now as a champion for children in the Congress."

Another state legislator who declared he's running in a well-executed surprise announcement earlier this month, moderate Democrat state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens), has racked up a long list of legislative colleagues who've endorsed his campaign (many hailing from the powerful Roadkill Caucus, the faction of moderate Democrats in the legislature):

Sen. Paull Shin
Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen
Sen. Brian Hatfield
Sen. Derek Kilmer
Sen. Jim Kastama
Sen. Craig Pridemore
Sen. Scott White
Sen. Margarita Prentice
Former Sen. Darlene Fairley
Former Sen. Chris Marr
Former Sen. Ken Jacobsen

Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos
Rep. Deb Eddy
Rep. Brian Blake
Rep. Dean Takko
Rep. Troy Kelley
Rep. Chris Hurst
Rep. Fred Finn
Former Rep. Lynn Kessler
Former Rep. Velma Veloria
Former Rep. Kip Tokuda

Liias says he'll be rolling out his endorsements soon, but tells PubliCola he's also been endorsed by Sen. Paul Shinn (the state senator from Liias' district) and state Rep. Derek Stanford.

Today's second loser: The Seattle Police Department.

SPD reported to the city council yesterday that its staffing levels are down by 39 officers this year over last year, due largely to the fact that SPD hasn't hired a single new officer in more than a year.
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