McGinn's Robo-Calls

By Erica C. Barnett October 17, 2009

Mayoral candidate Mike McGinn has been inundated voters with robo-calls trashing his opponent, T-Mobile executive Joe Mallahan, for refusing to take a strong position on current Mayor Greg Nickels' ban on guns in Seattle parks, parts of which went into effect earlier this month.

The background: During a debate on Thursday, Mallahan responded to a question about the gun ban by saying he thought illegal guns were a greater concern, adding that he was not certain that a ban on guns in parks was the right way to increase public safety. McGinn responded with robo-calls to thousands of voters alleging that Mallahan "is siding with the NRA and extreme Second Amendment groups to ... make it legal to bring loaded firearms to playgrounds, pools, and community centers." Mallahan struck back with a press release accusing McGinn of "lying" about his position, and McGinn responded with a counter-release accusing Mallahan of using NRA talking points.

Leaving aside, for the moment, this overheated battle over a relatively minor (and probably unenforceable) city policy, the incessant robo-calls from the McGinn camp have lost the former Greenwood neighborhood activist at least one semiprominent supporter: Former city council candidate and Maple Leaf activist David Miller, who blasted a scathing letter to everyone on his email list this morning:
Candidates often distort their opponents’ positions for political gain. Most of acknowledge this part of the process, and have developed an internal “meter” for when distortions cross the line. On Friday afternoon, I received a robocall from “Renee” of the McGinn for Mayor campaign that was way, way over the line.

This call represents a consistent and disturbing pattern of behavior from the McGinn campaign and was the last straw for me. This behavior makes him unfit to be Mayor of our city in a time when everyone must work together to solve the significant problems facing our city.

Today, I’m publicly expressing my strong endorsement for Joe Mallahan for Mayor of Seattle. I hope you’ll join me in electing this principled man with significant management experience.

I don’t want you to get the impression I’m supporting Joe only as a vote against McGinn. I spent time with both on the campaign trail. I worked with McGinn on the parks levy and got a firsthand peek at how he’d likely operate as an executive (it's worth noting levy campaign co-chair Karen Daubert is on Joe's steering committee). I’ve examined the issues and proposals, and Joe is the clearly best candidate for Mayor to serve our city for the next four years.

I know many people are supporting one mayoral candidate or the other based solely on the issue of the tunnel. I hear media outlets dismiss Mallahan supporters as only voting for Joe because of his support for the deep bore tunnel. While I agree the tunnel is a significant issue, there are many other reasons why Joe Mallahan is the superior candidate that will outlast the tunnel decision.

Joe listens, not lectures. Joe freely admits he’s not the guy with all the big ideas. His management style is to gather smart people, give them the opportunity and tools to make a difference, and then manage the process so the right changes happen quickly and efficiently. This is precisely how representative government must work to be effective and responsive to its citizens.

Joe has large-organization operational experience that his opponent cannot match. The number one problem with Seattle City government is many of the city’s departments are operationally broken. We have to have experienced operational leadership, and McGinn’s background absolutely does not prepare him for that task. Joe’s experience and track record does.

McGinn will worsen our already bad relationship with county and state government. His opposition to the tunnel is only the most obvious example of the “my way or the highway” approach a McGinn administration will bring to the table. ...

Joe understands the importance of neighborhoods and community. He acknowledges Seattle is unique because of our great neighborhoods and has repeatedly stated he will work with neighborhood organizations. McGinn’s plan for neighborhoods is to weed out anyone who doesn’t agree with him and give city funding and backing to those who do.

McGinn calls himself a neighborhood guy, but he isn’t. When I approached his Great City organization for help on tree preservation, he turned me down. Increasing our tree canopy is perhaps the single biggest in-city environmental issue we have and this former head of the Sierra Club has been completely absent on the issue. I’ll note, for the record, his virtual running mate Council candidate Mike O’Brien opposes stronger tree regulations for Seattle, despite our city having the weakest tree rules in our area. ...

Please join me in moving Seattle forward by casting your vote in our Mayor’s race for Joe Mallahan.

McGinn hasn't yet returned a call for comment about his characterization of Mallahan's position on Nickels' gun ban.
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