Team Nickels’s Ugly Photo Ops
While this one’s not an official ethics violation (last week, you’ll remember, the Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission found the Mayor guilty of violating city rules for using city resources to assist his reelection campaign), Miss Manners oughta ding Team Nickels for the latest tacky stunt that’s come to our attention.
Nickels’s campaign fliers feature tons of photos of the mayor in action—showing Nickels making stops all over the city: at the Green Lake clean up, at the Volunteer Park dedication, having dinner at Fire Station 9, kicking off the Ave. revitalization project, at the Greenwood Library Re-opening… etc….
All these pics were taken by the city’s two staff photographers. It’s not unethical to use photos produced by the city for campaign lit (The Nickels campaign bought the photos fair and square from the city clerk for the nominal $10 fee), but thanks to the Nickels administration, the guys who originally took all those photos lost their jobs with the city.
You see, Nickels’s office refused to pay the estimated $33,000 that went into all those mayoral ribbon cutting photos, charging the work to the city’s Fleets and Facilities budget instead. That’s not the way the city’s photo program was intended to work. City offices—like the mayor’s office—were supposed to spend money from their own budgets to cover photog costs. The mayor’s refusal to participate in that “buy back” program—after running up the photography dept.’s costs with all those ribbon-cutting photo ops—caused the program to go belly up. As a result, the city print shop was closed down and the two photographers lost their jobs.
Ah, but their photos live on, promoting Nickels in his reelection campaign literature. Ugly, ugly, ugly.