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Jean Godden, the longtime incumbent city council member running for reelection in the fourth district, DOESN'T LIKE giving straight answers at candidate forums to yes or no questions.

We at PubliCola, along with Seattlish, the Stranger's Slog, and The C Is for Crank, were all flummoxed Wednesday night by Godden's refusal during the lightning-round inquiries to be candid about: the seized property in Roosevelt, the public campaign financing initiative (I-122), and rent control.

Godden simply refused to answer.

For example, in the picture below (courtesy of Erica C. Barnett), we can see Godden in action at Wednesday night's Roosevelt High School forum, obfuscating on whether the neighborhood should accept the city plan to build a park on the seized Sisley properties. Yes might seem like the obvious answer, but there's an alternative proposal, being pitched by green planner types, to build housing there—and turn the adjacent side street into the park.

(Green planner type, Rob Johnson, the executive director at Transportation Choices Coalition, immediately to the right of Godden, and Democratic party activist Micheal Maddux, to Johnson's right, both said no, while neighborhood activist Tony Provine, who helped work the park deal, said yes. Godden? Hard to say.)

Refusing to stand for Godden's reticence on these issues, we contacted her yesterday at city hall in her capacity as an official council member, and repeated the questions.

Here's what got:

Does she support putting a park (as city attorney Pet Holmes wants) or putting housing (as green activists want) on the Sisley seizure property?

It is not a question of either open space or housing but of working toward achieving both worthy goals.  Several council members, the mayor, and myself are fully engaged in exploring a variety of options and alternatives raised by both open space and housing advocates as well as neighbors. I am very optimistic that by working together we can develop a plan that meets many needs and helps to move the Roosevelt neighborhood forward.
Does she support the election initiative that gives every voter $100 to contribute to the candidate of their choice?

I am meeting with initiative supporters today and am looking at the details included in the initiative.
Does she support getting rid of Olympia's ban on rent control?

We need housing programs and policies that are achievable and will increase affordable housing now. I’m looking forward to acting on recommendations brought forward by [Mayor Murray's] HALA committee in May. While I support the right of cities to determine their own domestic policies such as Seattle has done on paid sick leave [Godden, in fact, deserves credit for showing strong support for paid sick leave —Editors] and increasing the minimum wage, rent control is not legal in Washington state and that is not going to change at the state legislature this year.

2. In a footnote about the debate, environmentalists LIKE that the candidates were asked if they supported divesting the city employees' retirement fund from fossil fuel investments. (Kudos to whoever put that on the list.) You'll remember, the Seattle City Employees Retirement System shot down the idea earlier this year when council member Nick Licata, chair of the SCERS board, proposed a divestment resolution.

And the enviros should LIKE this even more: All the candidates, including Godden, said yes to that one.

3. About 20 percent of people evidently DIDN'T LIKE how they were treated by the SPD postconsent decree.

According to a PubliCola public records request, in the time period since the consent decree was put into place in late June 2012 until February of this year, there have been 1,406 use-of-force incidents reported by the SPD. During the same period there have been 273 citizen complaints regarding those incidents.

In the time period analyzed by the Department of Justice in the runup to the consent decree—about four months shorter than the period we examined—which was specifically put into place in response to concerns about excessive use of force, the SPD reported 1,200 use-of-force incidents; we are still working with the SPD to determine the number of citizen complaints about those incidents.

Happy May Day.


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