New York Alki

So, first there was this. And now, this:

Seattle City Council candidate Jon Grant claims the developer of a project across from City Hall tried to shake him down, and a text message sent to former Mayor Mike McGinn reveals some of what went on.

Grant says Brett Allen, a senior vice president at Triad Capital Partners, approached him at a Saturday campaign event and asked for help settling a lawsuit brought by Grant’s former employer.

Grant says he was told the payoff could be that a new political committee gearing up to spend heavily against him would go away.

On the one hand, I appreciate the way Seattle’s political establishment is attempting to make me—an expatriate of Philadelphia and New York’s corrupt political machines—feel right at home. But on the other hand, what the fuck?

It’s one thing to use the threat of a big independent expenditure campaign to intimidate a council candidate, but it’s another thing to preserve the details of that threat in a goddamn text message. That’s just incompetent. I mean, if Seattle’s cabal of downtown developers can’t even shake down a politician correctly, how can we trust them to properly develop downtown Seattle?

A Debate Edition of Drinking Liberally — Seattle


This evening there will be a special Debate Edition of the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally. Please join us at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle, for a Democratic debate-watching party.

You’ll find us in the small room at the back of the tavern. Our normal starting time is 8:00 pm, but the debate “pre-game show” starts at 5:30 PDT, and the debate itself starts at 6:00 PDT. So join us early for this one.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings happening this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities and Redmond chapters also meet. On Wednesday, the Bellingham chapter meets. On Thursday, the Tacoma chapter meets. And next Monday, the Aberdeen and Yakima chapters meet.

There are 183 chapters of Living Liberally, including eighteen in Washington state, four in Oregon and two in Idaho. Chances are good there’s a chapter meeting near you.

Open Thread 10-12

- Had a more interesting conversation about Mara Willaford and Marissa Johnson with my Real Change vendor than with like 90% of Bernie Sanders supporters.

– At a certain time, the GOP are going to have to find a new fake Clinton scandal. Maybe they can go back to crack pipe Christmastreegate.

Yet, because the party has leaped so far to the right, they have been unable to perform basic functions of government, and have to end up relying on Democrats to keep them propped up, requiring that the fantasies they’ve promised base voters have to stay off the table to keep those votes.

– It’s too bad that Disability Rights Washington is suing Seattle, but sometimes those sorts of suits are necessary.

– Seattle radio gets a mention in Obama’s press pool report. Oh, also the President was in town.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Matthew Filipowicz: Wall Street reacts to TPP agreement.

Both sides of the Clinton email scandal make their case.

David Pakman: Alabama passes voter ID, then closes ID offices in black Counties

The 2016 Clown Festival:

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about the ocean.

Farron Cousins: Racist right wingers are the biggest threat to America today.

Vladimir Putin can do anything he wants to do.

Congressional hits and misses of the week.

Tom Hartman: California to vote on Citizens United.

The New (Anti-)McCarthyism:

Roy Zimmerman: Roy’s birthday AND the end of the world.

Young Turks: Brisol Palin needs to STFU about free birth control.

David Pakman: Legal group representing Kim Davis is declared a hate group.

Thom: ALEC’s 2016 agenda.

Matthew Filipowicz with Julianna Forlano: The problem with gerrymandering.

Honest Political Ads: Health Care costs.


Ann Telnaes: Which way will the Supreme Court swing this term?

Mental Floss: 24 ridiculous lawsuits.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

openthread 10-9

- So I got an abortion. Just that once. I’ve never regretted it. And I never will. NEVER. And I refuse to apologize for it. It was 110 percent the best thing to do at that time. Not that it was “easy.” Mom offered to go with me to the clinic, but that meant she’d have to make a 10-hour road trip. “No need,” I told her. I would be okay.

– If a mass shooting causes you to smile, you’re doing life wrong.

– I, for one, am looking forward do Lindsey Graham apologizing for his vote against Sandy relief any day now. Or at least providing an explanation.

Thanks in large part to the effort of Belltown residents and pinball players, the Landmark Preservation Board voted last night to designate the Wayne Apartment Buildings on numerous criteria.

– In an open thread a while ago, I mentioned that a group was putting on several Brecht plays but I wasn’t interested because none of them were Mother Courage. Well, the 0 people who remember that, Seattle Shakespeare are putting on Mother Courage.

What’s Next, Bruce? Walking-Around Money?

Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell was look awfully pleased with himself at last week's 37th LD Dems endorsement meeting.

Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell was look awfully pleased with himself at last week’s 37th LD Dems endorsement meeting.

Seattlish has the scoop on some very shady goings on in my own political backyard:

Bruce Harrell’s campaign may be in some hot water following allegations that they essentially bought the 37th District Dems endorsements for both him and Pamela Banks.

An SEEC complaint alleges that, before the deadline to become a voting member of the organization in time for endorsements, 15 new memberships were paid for in one batch, with sequential money orders purchased at the same location.

It gets sketchier: These new memberships came on the heels of the Harrell campaign calling and asking if it would be OK for them to pay for new memberships (they were told it was not). … Just after the vote, it was determined that at least five of the new members shouldn’t have been permitted to vote at all, because, per the 37th Dems themselves, they didn’t even live in the 37th LD.

This is the sort of sneaky, manipulative Democratic machine politics that might earn Harrell fear and/or respect in Chicago or New Jersey or my native Philadelphia, but here in squeaky-clean Seattle, not so much. In fact, it pretty much confirms the worst suspicions of the disaffected, young, left-leaning voters Democrats so desperately need to bring to the polls.

It is to say the least ironic for establishment Democrats who take such offense at Kshama Sawant’s insinuations of corruption to respond to her campaign with, you know, actual corruption. (And yes, legal issues aside, I consider this sort of flagrant violation of both the spirit and letter of the LD’s rules to be a form of political corruption.)

To be clear, I’m taking this personally, and not just because I’m a passionate Sawant supporter. This is my LD. And I hate the way this is tearing my LD apart—especially the mean-spirited behind-the-scenes attacks on LD members who dare to question the obviously compromised integrity of the endorsement process.

I’ve always tried not to cover internal Democratic Party politics, and I don’t want to start now. But man, the stories I could tell. Just sayin’.

Open Thread 10/7

I’m feeling much better than Monday, but I’ve been mostly off the Internet, so no links. I’ll probably have a real Open Thread on Friday and hopefully a regular post or two in the rest of the week.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottlePlease join us this evening for a feast of politics…and a beer at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally.

We meet every Tuesday at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. You’ll find us in the small room at the back of the tavern. Our starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks stop by even earlier for dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings happening this week. The Long Beach, Tri-Cities and West Seattle chapters also meet tonight. The Lakewood chapter meets on Wednesday. And the Bremerton, Spokane, and Kent chapters meet on Thursday.

There are 183 chapters of Living Liberally, including eighteen in Washington state, four in Oregon and two in Idaho. Chances are good there’s a chapter meeting near you.


I know everyone has covered Jeb Bush saying “stuff happens” about shootings. Also, it’s a national story, and HA is primarily a Washington State blog. But this post has been rattling around in my mind for a few days. So maybe it’s the cough syrup talking, but I think the most offensive thing about it is that he used the minced oath.

He could have said “shit happens” because that’s the phrase that it’s meant to evoke, but he didn’t. He said stuff. He thought you and I and everyone who could hear him or listen to what he had to say would be offended if he had said “shit.” That him swearing would hurt him, so — as a politician — he had to treat everyone like a 10 year old.

Compare that to the context. He didn’t feel that he had to come up with a way to comfort the dead, let alone come up with a plan to prevent more deaths when he’s president. He didn’t think it would be offensive to just assume a future of regular mass shootings.

You’d hate to be a parent and have to explain that a presidential candidate thought saying “shit” was OK, but letting them know that they or their friends could die of a gunshot wound at any time while at school is easy? The contrast between a taboo on saying the word “shit” and being perfectly fine with flippancy about mass death and trauma is really striking.

And not for nothing, but mass shootings are shit. They’re shit no matter where they happen but they’re even more shit when they happen in schools.

Shorter Seattle Times on Inclusionary Zoning: “Do as I Say, Not as I Vote”

No nits to pick with the policy direction of the Seattle Times’ surprisingly forceful editorial in favor of stronger inclusionary zoning rules. I agree: “The policy makes sense in a city like Seattle, where population and job growth are boosting housing costs and most new developments cater to high-end renters.”

That said, if the editorial board really means what it says when it concludes…

The City Council should consider a more aggressive target that caters less to developers’ interests.

… it might want to endorse City Council candidates who cater less to developers.

Just sayin’.

HRC and Progressive Drug Policy

In Johann Hari’s great new book on drug addiction and the drug war, “Chasing the Scream”, he recounted a story about Switzerland’s first female president, Ruth Dreifuss:

The police officer who accompanied Ruth Dreifuss had tears in his eyes. He was taking the future president of Switzerland through an abandoned railway station in Zurich, down by the river. All the local drug addicts had been herded there, like infected cattle.

Ruth had been looking out over scenes like this for years now. A few years before, she had been to the park in Bern that played the same role there. There were girls being openly prostituted out and there were addicts staggering around, out of control, incoherent. There were people injecting themselves “in places you couldn’t imagine,” she says, because every other vein couldn’t be traced, as if it was trying to escape. Above the bustle, dealers were yelling their prices at the top of their voices. As she heard them, Ruth thought of Wall Street brokers, barking on the trading floor. The threat of violence hung over everything as dealers fought for customers.

Most Swiss people had never seen anything like this. The police were not just crying; they were afraid. This was Switzerland in the 1980s and 1990s, but it was an affront to everything the Swiss thought about themselves.

That was 20 years ago, and since then, Dreifuss went on to spearhead one of the most successful drug policy experiments in the modern world.

Earlier this month, Hillary Clinton released a proposal to deal with America’s growing heroin problem. In an editorial in the New Hampshire Union Leader, she wrote:

ON MY first trip to New Hampshire this spring, a retired doctor spoke up. I had just announced I was running for President, and I had traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire to hear from voters about their concerns, their hopes and their vision for the future. He said his biggest worry was the rising tide of heroin addiction in the state, following a wave of prescription drug abuse.

To be candid, I didn’t expect what came next. In state after state, this issue came up again and again — from so many people, from all walks of life, in small towns and big cities.

In Iowa, from Davenport to Council Bluffs, people talked about meth and prescription drugs. In South Carolina, a lawyer spoke movingly about the holes in the community left by generations of African American men imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses, rather than getting the treatment they needed.

Writing at Vox, German Lopez finds a lot to like about Clinton’s proposal:

Clinton’s $10 billion Initiative to Combat America’s Deadly Epidemic of Drug and Alcohol Addiction is the most ambitious attempt of any presidential candidate to tackle America’s struggles with drug abuse. It’s an approach that public health and drug policy experts have demanded for years. But Clinton is the first candidate to dedicate such a large sum of money to the cause — and if approved by Congress, it could help combat what some public health officials and experts have called a drug overdose epidemic.

The big idea behind Clinton’s plan is to shift public policy on drug abuse and addiction from the criminal justice system to the health-care system. It would also help fill a big gap in health care: Nearly 90 percent of people who have a drug or alcohol abuse problem don’t get treatment, according to federal data.

The need to move away from our criminal justice approach to drug addiction has been urgent for awhile. On this point alone, Clinton deserves a lot of credit for getting with the times and rebuking the old approach. Her proposals for diverting addicts out of prison into treatment, to provide first responders with overdose prevention drugs, and to compel insurance companies to cover addiction treatment costs are all important and long overdue. Cracking down on doctors who prescribe opioids makes me a little nervous as this power has been greatly abused by prosecutors, but on the whole there’s more to like than dislike in this proposal.

Here in Seattle, for instance, the promising LEAD program is something that could ideally be expanded with this approach. LEAD’s four year experiment in Belltown diverting addicts to treatment instead of jail has been hugely successful at reducing subsequent arrests. But the funding for it isn’t a guarantee from year to year. Federal matching funds for this and similar programs around the country could reduce both local health care and criminal justice costs.

Funding those types of treatment programs would certainly be a great start, but there’s more we could do, and some of it is already being done elsewhere.

Up in Vancouver, the inSite safe injection facility is a place where addicts can safely use drugs without fear of arrest. Medical professionals are on hand to deal with medical emergencies and to counsel those trying to quit. The efficacy of this approach has been studied for years now, and the results are overwhelming. Allowing addicts to have safe place to use heroin has led to less crime and more addicts diverting into treatment. It has also lowered the rates of AIDS and Hepatitis cases and greatly reduced the amount of overdoses. It’s worked so well that despite pressure from an ideological Harper government, the Mayor of Montreal is willing to break the law to open one in his city.

Would Clinton’s proposal allow for a facility like inSite in the United States? The city of San Francisco tried to open one in 2007, but South Carolina Senator and noted federalist Jim DeMint used his position in the Senate to force the city to abandon its plans. It’s possible that even if Clinton became President and supported it, a Republican-led Congress would have the power and motivation to kill it once again.

But let’s go back to Switzerland, where they did something even more radical and progressive than that. Again from Hari’s book:

It had been discovered a few years before in Switzerland that there was a clause in Swiss law that allowed heroin to be given to citizens provided it was part of a scientific experiment. So far that had been done with only a tiny handful of people.

So Ruth said–Okay, we are going to have a really large experiment. We are going to make it much easier for any addict who wants it to get methadone, and for the people who can’t cope with that, we will prescribe them heroin. Switzerland has a political system built on consensus. No one official can drive a policy on her own. She needed to persuade her colleagues, and the cantons. So Ruth fought for it. This is an emergency, she explained, and in emergencies, you take dramatic steps.

Everything Americans have been conditioned to believe about drugs and drug addiction leads us to believe that this approach is completely nuts. We believe that anything but a cold turkey approach to drugs invites complacency and encourages more drug use. But much to the surprise of strict prohibitionists, the experiment worked, and Swiss voters overwhelmingly voted to keep it legal in 2008. The number of Swiss who regarded drug addiction as a serious problem plummeted from 64% to 12% between 1988 and 2002.

Many myths of heroin addiction and recovery were shattered by this experiment. Addicts did not continually demand higher and higher doses. They didn’t become complacent and give up on trying to kick their addictions. In fact, the opposite happened. The addicts receiving maintenance treatment became more likely to slowly wean themselves off the drug or to seek alternate treatments like methadone.

An approach like this remains explicitly illegal in the United States. Doctors are prohibited from prescribing heroin to anyone. Many of them are targeted by prosecutors simply for not being stingy enough when prescribing legal opioids to pain patients. Moving us in the opposite direction would require a lot of political courage. Could Clinton do it? Would she fight for it the way Ruth Dreifuss did?

The prohibitionist mindset tells us that the availability of drugs is the main determinant of drug use. But this is completely wrong. It’s certainly one determinant, but many other factors play into the equation, and have a far greater impact. After doing the research for his book, Hari came away believing that the presence of deep emotional scars was the predominant precursor for addition. People in that situation had to be helped to help themselves. But trying to enforce a prohibition by sending countless people through our criminal justice system tends to have the opposite effect, along with a whole host of unintended consequences.

This remains difficult for many Americans to accept and understand. We still tend to think of addicts as freeloaders, and the act of taking drugs as a form of rebellion that we shouldn’t give in to. This mindset only becomes shattered when someone we know and love falls victim to an addiction. Maybe the Swiss are more able to see the addicts in Needle Park as their brothers and sisters in ways that we here in America can’t. Or maybe we’re finally reaching that turning point in public understanding, just as we’ve reached a major turning point on pot prohibition in the past decade. However close we might be to a truly progressive drug policy, Hillary Clinton seems willing to move us closer to that point, and that might be good enough for now.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Congressional hits and misses of the week.

Pontifical Politics:

David Pakman: Christian hate group leader wants “Christian Sharia” forced conversion of immigrants.

Mental Floss: 26 fun facts about money

The 2016 Clown Parade:

What UN delegates really hear through their translators.

ANOTHER Goddamned Mass Shooting?!?

David Pakman: Nut-case Rush Limbaugh thinks finding of water on Mars is a Left Wing Conspiracy.

A painfully accurate drug commercial.

A Startling Admission!

Young Turks: Shameful Congress leaves town without passing 9/11 first responded bill.

Thom: Alabama toughens rules for voting while Black.

Planned Parenthood Politics:

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about climate change.

White House: West Wing Week.

Smoker of the House:

The perfect phone for filming police brutality.

Farron Cousins: Elizabeth Warren slams trickle down myth on Colbert’s show

Who did Hillary email?

The Daily Show is Back:

Farron Cousins: The G.O.P.’s “obstruction of Justice”.

How US companies profit from war.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.