1. Pop quiz: Who said this?
"Raising money from city employees and almost doubling the number of strategic advisers means that city government is increasingly dominated by political considerations. That’s not right. The job of public servants is to serve the public, not form the core of a mayor’s re-election campaign.
"It’s also not fair to employees. Imagine receiving a call from the mayor, or one of his campaign staffers, asking for a political contribution. And what effect do political contributions have on the mayor’s management of employees.
"If elected mayor, I will immediately work to stop the practice of city employees contributing to the campaigns of the elected officials who manage them or write their budgets."
That would be then-challenger Mike McGinn, railing against incumbent mayor Greg Nickels for taking, and soliciting, contributions from city employees.
Come gather round people. Wherever you roam ... My, how the times have changed.
According to city elections records, city employees have given $27,726 to McGinn's reelection campaign so far, making the city by far the largest employer of McGinn contributors. (The second-largest employer is Vulcan, whose employees gave a comparatively paltry $3,700).
Those city of Seattle contributors include people who answer directly to McGinn, political appointees whose professional future depends upon the mayor's favor, and department heads whose budgets are ultimately approved and written by the mayor. Seattle City Light Super Jorge Carrasco ($700), Department of Development and Planning Director Diane Sugimura ($600), and Department of Neighborhood head Bernie Agor Matsuno ($700), for example, have all contributed.
The prospect of "receiving a call from the mayor, or one of his campaign staffers, asking for a political contribution..." has not diminished.
2. In other Mayor McGinn news, plenty of folks have noted the frantic pace of press releases out of McGinn's office in the last year. But it's worth comparing the current mayor's barrage of election-year paper to that of his predecessor, a mayor who was frequently accused of using his city office as a de facto campaign operation. So far this year, McGinn has issued 104 press releases, one on nine out of ten weekdays. In comparison, during the equivalent period in 2009, Nickels issued 72 press releases—one on six out of ten weekdays.
There's nothing unethical about issuing legitimate press releases of course, but amping up the volume so dramatically in an election year certainly speaks to a desire for publicity—and publicity can lead to votes.
3. Another pop quiz.
Who said this?
It is difficult for to me understand why local candidates seek my support because they need help in the black community. During my service as Deputy Secretary of HUD, people were fascinated that a large and predominately white community elected a black man. It was so rare that they just couldn't figure out how it happened. I didn’t fit easily into a stereotypical box. The east coast queries didn’t offend me. But I do take great offense to the requests for support that I've received from many of this state's candidates. I am exceedingly proud of my African American heritage. But my record shows that the majority of people who elected me were white. It may be plausible that my support for a candidate can help in the broader community. As a kid people strove to limit me. But this is a new century. So, I will not welcome benign intentions that push me back into the previous century’s little box.
Former King County Executive (and former Deputy Secretary of HUD) Ron Sims posted that on FaceBook last night. Comments thread (98 and counting) ensues, though no mention of who the local candidates are.
We have a message in to Sims.