Mallahan Defines Himself, Nickels, and the Word "Ideate."

By Josh Feit July 31, 2009

[Editor's Note: This post has been updated.]

Sorry for the lack of posts. We've been interviewing mayoral candidates all day.

I must report that we asked T-Mobile exec Joe Mallahan to define "ideate"—a corporate-speaky word Erica noticed him using when she live-blogged a recent mayoral forum .

Mallahan said it means: "The act of thinking creatively and creating new solutions and concepts."

Thanks Joe!


Joe Mallahan

Otherwise, Mallahan's main rap is that he will bring his managerial experience to city government to make "principled" and "tactical" and "compromise" solutions rather than "political" ones. (We did point out that the job of a mayor is, in fact, to make political decisions, to which he responded: Yeah, like Nickels decision to keep transportation department director Grace Crunican despite a documented management crisis. Mallahan has pledged to fire Crunican.)

Interestingly, and not prompted by us, former Sierra Club leader Mike McGinn actually told us the opposite when we interviewed him later in the day. He said the job of the mayor is, in fact, to make "political" decisions. "That's what politics is about. People disagree, and that's how you figure out where you want to go. You have to understand politics to make change."

But more on our McGinn interview in a separate post (I called him a dick and he said, "I'm not a dick!").

Back to Mallahan.

Mallahan said he would increase the number of police on the streets, bringing the number of uniformed officers up to 600 from 500. He estimated that would cost $10 million—which he said he would take from the $125 million in consulting contracts at the city.

"Consultants cost four or five times as much as city employees," Mallahan said. "We need to increase our internal expertise so that we're not relying on consultants."

Mallahan also claimed that Mayor Nickels was "starry-eyed for developers," citing the "$50 million toy streetcar" in South Lake Union as a waste of money (although, he said he supported the trolley when I interviewed him in May) ; that the mayor's Mercer Street project was "stealing" money from the Bridging the Gap levy that was supposed to go to basics like neighborhood sidewalks; and that he (Mallahan) would likely cut some smaller departments like the arts department, which he said he'd merge with the Office of Economic Development. (We also asked him if he had anyone in mind to replace transportation department head Crunican; he said he did not.)

And in a theme Mallahan hit repeatedly, that Nickels had disempowered neighborhoods, he was critical of Mayor Nickels "first act"— firing popular neighborhood department head "rock star" Jim Diers (which Nickels did back in 2002). Mallahan said Diers had organized neighborhoods to make demands on city government and that Nickels had "cut the neighborhood budget in half in real dollars" and pursued "a racial agenda."

I had to follow up with his staff later in the day re: what Mallahan meant by a "racial agenda." After checking in with their candidate, they reported that Mallahan accused Nickels of refocusing the neighborhood department on addressing racial tension in the neighborhoods instead of basic services.

And, more to the point, Mallahan says, Nickels didn't follow through on tackling race issues.

“Nickels went to Diers and said, ‘I’m moving in a different direction,’" Mallahan says. "And he [Nickels] went with a racial agenda. I don’t get it, and I don’t see it.”

All in all, Mallahan was much more prepared and focused than he was when PubliCola first sat down with him in early May—for the first interview he did with the media .
Filed under
Show Comments