Politics Angry White Man
Recent City Council hopeful Aaron Shuman - a white male who didn’t show up for the six-hour public-testimony-a-thon earlier this month - is contemplating a lawsuit against the city of Seattle for discriminating against non-minority, non-female council candidates in its process for choosing a successor to Jim Compton, who resigned in December. (At least four members have said publicly that the winning candidate would likely be a minority woman.) Right-wing blogger Stefan Sharkansky alluded to the news on Monday; this morning, Shuman e-mailed me to say that he was still seriously considering a suit against the council:
Basically, the crux of the matter is this:Â Councilman Peter Steinbrueck said [in the Seattle Times], “It seems like the council is headed in the direction of [appointing] a woman of color. It seemed to be the momentum of this process, and I think it’s going to stickâ€ť.Â Well, since he is one of the ones appointing the interim councilmember, he is stating that he has a racial and sexual preference. Â That preference is counter to the spirit, if no the letter, of RCW 49.60.400: “The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.â€ť
Two problems with Shuman’s argument: 1) The last time the council appointed a council member, in 1997, all the finalists were men, and all but Richard McIver and Bruce Bentley were white. (McIver eventually won the appointment.) At the time, the council consisted of seven women and two men, including John Manning, who resigned. So if the council had a legitimate interest then in promoting diversity in its ranks (by narrowing the list to an all-male field of finalists) why is that interest illegitimate when the group it benefits is minority women? And where were angry white men like Shuman in 1997, when they could just as legitimately have cried discrimination?
2) Shuman isn’t qualified to serve on the council anyway. His resume, which lists his most recent address as Kyrgyzstan (where he works as a contractor for the US Air Force), says he is “seeking a full-time position in voice or data network installation, operations, and maintenance.” In his brief letter of interest, Shuman laments that “the quiet, peaceful and firendly city I grew up in is not as it once was,” but does not claim to possess any qualifications for the position.
Even if Shuman’s lawsuit was ultimately unsuccessful, a temporary injunction could leave the council with just eight members — exactly the situation that has prevented them from moving forward with their business in the month since Compton left office.