At a pro-parks district press conference this morning at the Yesler Community Center hosted by Mayor Ed Murray (and former mayor Charley Royer), about ten outspoken opponents of the measure heckled speakers, including the mayor. And one, anti-parks-district leader Don Harper, shoved a supporter, local bar owner Dave Meinert, who was there in support.

The parks measure, Proposition 1, is a property tax increase on the August 5 ballot that would permanently fund parks and maintenance rather than paying for specific projects with the traditional levy-to-levy approach. The tax, 42 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, would raise about $54 million a year.

"He grabbed me and shoved me and almost knocked me and my four-year old daughter to the ground," says Meinert, who was standing in the doorway, holding his daughter.

Harper, who's leading the opposition to the parks measure, says Meinert was blocking the door. "To me, he kind of tried to stand in the doorway, and basically I pretty much walked through," says Harper, adding, "I didn't think of it as a physical altercation in any way that would be spoken of. If he feels like there is, gosh. Sorry. If the police would like to interview me, that's fine. The gentleman was standing in the doorway. I would say that there was probably a misunderstanding there." 

"It tells you a lot about what he thinks about parks and kids," Meinert, who says he came with Royer, quipped after the incident. He says a couple of people have suggested he press charges, and he says he's "considering it," describing the protesters as "rude."

One Prop. 1 supporter noted that the protesters also heckled speaker Fartun Farah, a board member of the Yesler Community Center, when she was stressing the importance of community centers.

Mayor Ed Murray reportedly told the protesters to be quiet several times, telling them he respected their right to protest, but urged them to respect the rights of the scheduled speakers.

"The mayor was great," Meinert says. "I was impressed." 

Seattle Met and PubliCola deliver breaking news and essential updates from around the Northwest. See an example!