Mayor Mike McGinn sat down with PubliCola last week to talk about his bid for reelection, his record as mayor, and what he described as "the narrative" around his time in office. McGinn says the "narrative" that he's disliked ignores the facts on the ground. He points to a list of accomplishments he's pulled off in concert with the council (such as doubling the Families and Education Levy, replenishing the rainy day fund, and increasing community center hours) that show he's a results-oriented team player.
McGinn is being challenged for reelection by, at the latest count, seven contenders, including two current council members, one former council member, and a state senator.
Our wide-ranging conversation touched on a number of issues, including the proposed SoDo arena (more on that here) and, in today's outtake, his initial opposition to the Department of Justice's choice to serve as an independent monitor to oversee reforms at the Seattle Police Department, Los Angeles police consultant Merrick Bobb.
McGinn publicly objected to Bobb's appointment, on the grounds that a board member for his nonprofit, the Police Assessment Resource Center (PARC), had helped write the DOJ report that found that SPD officers had engaged in a pattern of excessive force and biased policing.
Ultimately, McGinn acquiesced to the DOJ's recommendation after the city council voted for a nonbinding resolution supporting Bobb's appointment (McGinn ally Mike O'Brien was the lone "no" vote; his two challengers from the council, Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess, along with six other members, voted "yes.")
PubliCola: What was behind your resistance to the DOJ's recommendation, particularly after such a lopsided council vote?
McGinn: Look, here’s the deal. There were four candidates brought to us. Three came out of the internal interview process, and one was moved forward by DOJ. That was Merrick Bobb.
"It’s an election year and council members are prepared to play politics with public safety, and they saw their opportunity and they jumped on this one too."
I don’t know how much I want to talk about this, but everybody else seems to talk about everything. I did have an internal conversation with the council members around the table talking about the pros and cons of various candidates, and what happened was somebody in that room, in what presumably was an attorney-client privileged conversation, somebody went out and spun up the story that I was against the monitor.
Three of the four candidates were perfectly acceptable to me. The fourth one [Merrick Bob] I had concerns about because one of his board memebrs at PARC had written the report, and so there were questions about could he be a skeptic or was there a conflict of interest–type situation. ...
My objective in the monitor selection was to find a place where we’re all together. We had heard concerns raised, and I had raised those concerns internally. Frankly, it’s an election year and certain council members came out there and said, are you pro-reform or anti-reform, and that story stuck because you’re reporting it to me. And all I wanted to do was work at bringing people together around effective change. ...
So I said, let's find somebody everybody can agree on. But again, it’s an election year and what we’ve seen repeatedly is that council members are prepared to play politics with public safety, and they saw their opportunity and they jumped on this one too.
PubliCola: But only two council members are running against you. Are you suggesting that everyone else who voted for Bobb just went along for political reasons?
McGinn: I believe the third person in that group, Sally Clark, had not yet ruled out a run at the time. That’s where they wanted to go, so, you know, when they won that vote we went with it and we’re proceeding with the monitor.
More excerpts to come.