Dominic Holden links to this Jonathan Martin piece on Sally Clark not putting forward a resolution condemning the Russian anti-gay legislation. Holden hits most of the salient points, but I want to add a few things.
It’s mystifying to see Seattle City Council President Sally Clark’s Twitter account has blown up with criticism from gay activists, thanks to an off-hand comment from Mayor Mike McGinn. Mystifying, because Clark, the first openly gay council president, co-sponsored council resolutions in support of same-sex marriage in 2012 and donated to the campaign to affirm its legality. Her record on LGBT issues is rock-solid.
Well her record was pretty much the median Seattle City Council member on this issue, since they all have supported gay rights for, like, ever. Even Republican voting, “We value the sacredness of marriage between a woman and man” Tim Burgess is solid on LGBT rights issues compared to the rest of the state. So, sure, she’s been good on those issues up until now. Now is the problem.
Now is what activists are responding to. Gay rights activists have been on the defensive with the Russian law until Dan Savage and others in Clark’s home town started boycotting Russian products. You can debate how much of a difference that made, but between that, possible protests of the Olympics, and actual protests here and around the country, enough of a difference was made that it put Russian officials on their heels, and got the letter written.
Also, Clark has been one of the more conservative members of the council, generally. These things are relative within Seattle, of course, but it’s not that surprising that lefty activists more generally would go after her when she does the wrong thing. The good news is even though McGinn’s letter has been sent, there is still time for Seattle to do the right thing, and she can start taking the lead on it if she wants.
OK, a few more things from the piece:
Seattle City Council was once famous for far-afield resolutions over the decades — condemning the treatment of circus elephants, calling for removal of Eastern Washington dams, condemning Burma and apartheid — and got rafts of justified criticism for being distracted from its core work.
It got plenty of criticism, sure. I don’t think that criticism was justified for the most part. I mean the Burma and apartheid regimes they criticized fell. Obviously, there was a ton more than City Council resolutions that caused that, but Seattle should be proud that our City Council was on the right side of history, and did our part. The Snake River dams provide some good, but given the amount of money Seattle spends on salmon restoration, it’s lazy to pretend that expressing an opinion on them was a distraction “from its core work.” So that leaves cruelty to circus elephants. It was one of the quickest things the council did, but you’d never know that from all the criticism it got over the years. I’d guess if you add all of the criticism of how much time it wasted and compare it to how much time it took, the time it took would be less than the criticism. Also, maybe, don’t be cruel to circus animals is a good position to hold?
In any event he never gets around to saying why the criticism is justified, because it’s so obvious. I guess whenever he has a conversation about them at the WAC, or at the boardroom of the Seattle Times, everyone agrees, so no need to spell it out any further for the plebes.
Last thing I swear. He concludes:
Better yet, the council should stick to it’s core work, which currently includes writing a budget.
The City Council has a huge role to play in the budget process, of course. But they don’t, strictly speaking, write it. That’s part of the Mayor’s job, according to this timeline. I get what he’s saying, but they don’t actually write the budget. For an article saying it’s important to know what the job of the City Council is and isn’t that sort of seems like an own goal.