This may come as a surprise, but I respect Knute Berger. He has a voice, and when he gets on a jag, like his anti-density stuff last year, people read him. Most important, his jags can compel debate. Erica C. Barnett and I, for example, felt compelled to take him on last spring in an essay we titled Moss Backwards after he’d written a series of anti-density columns. I usually don’t agree with the guy, and I think the Weekly is a sad, disengaged paper that needs an overhaul to get back into the news biz, but Berger himself seems to float above the Weekly’s shortcomings, a step removed from the fiasco/identity crisis over there. In short, he seems focused while his paper flounders.
I don’t know him personally. I’ve met him maybe once. We’ve talked on the phone once or twice. But he’s got a better vibe than his colleagues, who seem like insecure basket cases.
So, I was let down to see Knute (“Mossback”) go over the top and kind of parody (?) himself this week.
“Mossback doesn’t like the ways things are going. Too much growth, too much change, too many outsiders trying to grow palm trees—or skyscrapers—in our backyards. I think the only way to turn this thing around is to adopt measures that will turn newcomers off, yet reinforce local values.”
Given how paranoid, weird, sad (delicate) Knute sounds, I’m reluctant to even poke at him. But I’ve got to know: Who are these so-called outsiders?
The pro-skyscraper density crew is Team Nickels. They’re hardly outsiders. They are full-fledged Seattleites: Nickels, Ceis, Lowe, Bichsel, McComber, and last term, Corr. The monorail crowd? Nope. Weeks, Falkenbury, Sherwin, Cogswell. All longtime locals. The downtown developers? Alhadeff. Smith. Goodman. Klise. Local. Local. Local. Indeed, the engine for change seems to be homegrown.
I don’t know what outsiders Berger is talking about. Does he?
Heck, even Berger’s vaunted neighborhood movement is for change. As Erica and I wrote when we challenged Knute in our aforementioned Moss Backwards essay:
Fortunately, Berger is right on another point: The old anti-growth, anti-mass transit neighborhood movement is dying. But that doesn’t mean neighborhood voices are dying. It’s just that the new neighborhood voices aren’t saying what Berger wants to hear. Recently, Roosevelt residents provided crucial support for Sound Transit’s proposal to run light rail through the heart of their neighborhood, rather than along its periphery-guaranteeing dense redevelopment in a mostly single-family area. And Central Area and Beacon Hill residents support the Southeast Seattle Action Agenda, a neighborhood plan that calls for more density in their single-family zones.
So, who are the Outsiders? Village Voice Media? New Times? Mossback, maybe?