Former Mayor Greg Nickels became (in)famous for firing the beloved head of the city's neighborhoods department, Jim Diers.
Mayor Ed Murray just did Nickels one better today by declaring Diers dead.
"I’m very saddened by the death of Jim Diers," Murray said in a statement. "He was an innovator in bringing communities together and made a significant contribution to the foundation that makes Seattle special. His work with neighborhoods was passionate and progressive. His service to this city was unmeasurable. My thoughts go out to the Diers family. He will be missed.”
This was the second time in several weeks the mayor's office sent out a press release that wasn't ready for prime time.
Diers, however, is not dead.
In a followup press release, Murray press secretary Rosalind Brazel said, "The Mayor’s office was mistakenly informed of the death of Jim Diers. He is alive and well."
Yesterday, the similarly named Joe Dear, a longtime labor activist who served as director of the state investment board from 2002 to 2009, died of cancer.
Murray's communications director, Jeff Reading, confirms that the mayor's office mixed the two names up. "I think somebody got Joe Dear confused with Jim Diers—actually, a couple of people did," Reading said.
This was the second time in several weeks that the mayor's office sent out a press release that wasn't ready for prime time.
In early February, Murray's press secretary Rosalind Brazel sent out an email that included two potential statements from Murray about the state senate's passage of the DREAM Act, which gives the children of undocumented immigrants access to college aid—"One more straight forward, one with a 'tisk tisk' feel" because Murray had been pushing the bill for years to a then, unwilling GOP. (Ultimately, they went with the straightforward version.)
Reading acknowledged that no one at the mayor's office called Diers' family to confirm his supposed death. "Put it on me. I'm the communications director," Reading said, when asked whose mistake led to the erroneous, embarrassing press release.
We have a call out to Diers, who sounded just fine on his outgoing message.
On his FB page, Diers says:
"I'm getting inundated with messages asking if I am alive. Apparently, the mayor issued a press release mourning my death. I genuinely appreciate the mayor's concern, but I want to assure you that I am very much alive.
"I returned from work in Ontario at 1:00 this morning, participated in a conference call at 6:00 a.m., gave a talk in Tacoma, and am now preparing to teach my class at the UW tonight. I'm dead tired today, but otherwise, I'm feeling great! Thanks, everyone, for your concern but I really don't have any time for death."