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Friday, March 31, 2006

Confidential to Connelly: Calm Down

Posted by on March 31 at 12:38 PM

Obsessed Stranger reader Joel Connelly reportsagain—that Nick Licata’s staff is “a source of leaks to the Stranger.” He continues: “The Capitol Hill weekly went into rapture after Nick assumed the council presidency. An adoring Licata profile appeared, along with paeans to Licata aides, followed by generous praise of his response to the Capitol Hill shootings.”

To set the record straight—again—Licata’s office is no more the source of “leaks” to the Stranger than any other office on the second floor of City Hall. (As the Stranger’s City Hall reporter for the last two years, I oughta know; and Connelly has certainly never asked me who my sources are—or, indeed, ever called me.) Oh, and that “adoring profile” and “paeans to Licata aides” Connelly refers to? As far as I can tell, unless they ran somewhere other than the news section, they’re just as fictional as all those “leaks” from Licata’s office.

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joel keeps embarassing himself here since the same people on the second floor also provide tips--oh wait those are leaks!--to reporters at his paper and other papers.
or are they'tips' because they are handed off to reporters at dailies? and um didn't godden tip him to this in the first place? sounds like a leak to us joel! everyone wants to see your 'leaky jean' column.

Sounds like Joel C. is having some kind of personal dispute with Licata or one of Licata's aides.

I've met Joel once and never had any other interaction with him.

~ "Lisa Who Leaks"

Yes yes. It's an awful thing when government officials leak what is supposed to be public information to reporters. I can understand why Joel is so upset!

nomination for assclown of the year?

Who is it who leaks all this stuff to Joel Connelly, anyway?

Some of us have noted and posted about how much the Stranger writes about Nick L. - going way back - and more recently - Peter S.

That volume of coverage does seem to say there is a cozy relationship.

Good or bad, don't know. Thanks to the Stranger I know Nick's life story - and take on things with far more detail than I want.

Joel - don't be offended, there are 8 other coundil members, most of them more interesting than Nick, who is no showboat when it comes to glam or charisma.

Oh - I forgot, Nick is fighting the evil - too fat -- too old -- too conservative power.

Too bad the Feds and the State don't fund transportation like they used to - Seattle would be massive problems, so to speak, and a lot more money for other issues.....thanks Eyman.

Having met Joel, I'm fairly certain that he leaks, too.

Everybody knows that the Stranger staff hangs out pretty regularly with Licata and his staff(cocktails, parties, his wedding) There are a lot of people who work at the city who go to Capitol Hill so this is pretty well known.

I am not sure there is anything wrong with that though is there? Does it impact the coverage of the paper? Does it keep the staff from giving Licata well deserved criticism when he deserves it? I don't know. As for leaking information - everybody does it. If the other councilmembers are unaware of Licata's cosy relationship with his pals at the Stranger then they are numbskulls.

The Stranger folks hang out socially pretty regularly with Mayor's staff, County Exec staff, Peter Steinbrueck and staff, and Drago campaign consultants too. Anyone questioning Stranger coverage with those electeds?

This is quite funny.

I've been accused of being too cozy with Team Nickels.

Now, this post says the Stranger is too cozy with Nickels's nemesis, Nick Licata.

So which is it? Is the Stranger too cuddly with Mayor Nickels or his council nemesis Nick Licata?

Who fucking cares who Josh snorts coke with?

connelly is petty. professionalism speaks for itself (hence the regular accusations that stranger insecurities/ attacks on other papers are a sign of unprofessionalism). and connelly's jabs at thestranger suggest he's getting lazy at best.

that said: i think josh and erica are being evasive. can't you just admit that you're friends with lisa? it's not a crime, and it doesn't validate connelly's stupid points.

so, for instance, though written by josh and not erica, doesn't this count as a paean by the stranger to a licata aide?:

"Licata was cool. And his aide, Herbold, it turned out, was even cooler. With long wine-red hair (groovy like Mary Jane from Spider-Man) and a nose ring that stood out at city hall like a quarter in a bowl of pennies, this former Tenants Union organizer was working in city hall to fight city hall. Herbold and I soon became fast pals."

I'm totally friends with Lisa. And lots of other second-floor LA's. I'll "admit" that readily. But no one accused me of being friends with anybody - Connelly said Lisa "regularly leaks" to me, a claim for which he has absolutely no evidence.

Who Cares,

I agree. It's dumb that people are so antsy about who Stranger reporters are hanging out with.

I was just pointing out the really dumb part: A few weeks back I was getting hounded in the comments threads for hanging out with Team Nickels (the accusation being that it made my coverage biased.) And now the the hit in the comments thread is that we hang out too much with Team Licata—Nickels's council nemesis. The implication being that it makes our coverage biased.

This is totally weird, no? If Nickels and Licata are at cross purposes on most issues, how can our coverage be biased in both directions???

Meanwhile, Erica and I aren't being evasive. The fact is (and as one commenter points out—I've even made it plain in print), I'm friends with Licata aide Lisa Herbold. So is Erica.

The thing Connelly's got wrong, though, and what Erica said, is this: Lisa Herbold isn't the only person keeping us posted at city hall.

i want to know who joel hangs out with? i say he and godden are license plate hunting on the aurora bridge each weekend.

Jean Godden and the Aurora Bridge -- EQUAL -- Canlis, not cans.

Josh, tell Nick to do something about the hair. Has made plain looks much worse - he looks tired too. Maybe the honeymoon is still raging.

And not to be snide, with an Asian male, Black male, a young dyke Lesbian, a very smart Gay male, a hard core Granny, and geeky Richard ---- you favor the two white straight guys?


I wonder, am I, legally, a "public person?" I don't think so. My boss is the elected, I'm just lowly staff. I wonder if this could be considered slander at this point?

In my mind, a "leak" is a specific thing...not a news tip, rather something that is unethical - like divulging info that is privileged and specifically exempt from public disclosure.

Joel doesn't say I give good news tips, he says I "leak." Again, to me - a person who is proud of the work I do as a public servant - this is an insult.

Any of you newspaperpeople have a read on the legal issues around slander?

Poor Joel. I'd be bashing other publications if mine was circling the drain and taking my influence with it, too.

Although Joel does seem to be tarring your reputation, I think you'd have a tough case, LH.

As the aide to the council prez, I'm afraid you could be considered a public figure—which doesn't mean Joel's allowed to libel you, but it does set a higher bar.

"Leak" is a squishy term too. So, Joel could defend his interpretation of the term, which likely (unfairly) matches your definition of simply providing public info.

I was actually wondering if there was anything illegal or unethical about 'leaking'. I suppose if you give it the definition Lisa gives is -- releasing privledged information -- then there might be something unsavory there. But I think most of what Councilmembers do in the workplace is public information so I can't imagine many instances where this could happen.

Thanks for the read on this Josh.

You know, it really does affect my ability to do my job though. It doesn't sully my rep with the public, but it negatively impacts my ability to staff Nick on sensitive issues where I ethically must NOT divulge certain issues.

For instance, I get the hairy-eyeball when I sit in on Council executive sessions or Nick's briefings with the Law Dept. City staff ask for time on Nick's schedule to meet with him about things they could easily meet with me about and rely on me to brief Nick in turn. There are countless ways that this shit affects my job.

Citizens keep telling me I should think of Joel's attacks as a badge of honor, and I really appreciate their support, but in reality, it really sux.

Who gives a shit about who Erica's leaks are - especially when her "sources" obviously are a bunch of dolts who have no idea what's going on anyway?

Remember Erica's inside poop on whom would be the next Seattle City Councilmember? You don't do you?

That's because she was way off base - in fact, Sally Clark, the actual appointee, wasn't even among Erica's top three predictions of the candidates most likely to get the job.

That speaks volumes about Erica's "sources." Her "leaks" are more like "pissings" -- usually way off target and quite messy.

LH Wrote:
"Citizens keep telling me I should think of Joel's attacks as a badge of honor, and I really appreciate their support, but in reality, it really sux."

Long ago, my Dada told me that I would meet people in life who would absolutely detest the site of me regardless of what attempts I made to create an amicable relationship. He said there really isn't anything you can do about it; it's human nature and not to waste any time worrying about it. I haven't since hearing that sage advice, and LH, you shouldn't too.


Lisa - I am a retired publisher - and I follow city council proceedings a lot.

Put Joel out of mind. His barfs are directed at your boss, not you. Licata is rubbing him wrong for some reason, perhaps style as well as access.

It is not slander - which is almost impossible to prove. Our freedom of press yardsticks are a mile long.

You are not a public person. But still impossible to prove.

About leaks - Josh is not definitive to you. In this instance a leak is a very specific thing - trade slang - for telling one media outlet something from the inner working of the coucil before it is common knowledge, gossip/rumor -- or -- made public by media relations release.

Every media person worth their mettle works for the inside stuff. For, one thing, the so called scoop and just to fact check what is going on.

Most of what a city council does in this state is subject to public disclosure. But there are some topics that are executive and not so easily demanded.

The Times is always suing for documents. And they win in most cases.

It is kinda funny to read the responses here to Joel, he is highly read.
Like or dislike - the PI considers him highly because of readership count.

And his politics are very left of center Democrat, and go way back. A barbed style has worked well for him, you would think
Stranger readers could savor that. Somehow Joel does not make the hip list - but Republicans hate him.

Your boss runs a good meeting but seems a bit negative. If I did not know better, i would almost think at times he is a conservative.

Caution it seems is his mode.

Jensen - Thank you. In January when Joel made "Lisa who leaks" famous, MY mama sent me a quote with a related sentiment:

"Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government nor of dungeons to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."

I know both your dada's and Lincoln's statements to be true, but it's good to be reminded. I'll just keep on keeping on. Thanks again.

Rudy - thanks for weighing in with your expertise.

First of all this is ONLY an intellectual inquiry. I have an armchair interest in constitutional law and many years ago majored in journalism (sweet irony). I would like Joel to knock it off, but I would never ask a court to compel him. I am, above all, a political person (although, not a public person, I agree) and doing something like that would not serve the interests of the person for whom it is my job to serve, consequently it would not serve my interests.

My nearly 20 years-old recollection from a Communications Law class (with likely now-dated precedents) was that if you are NOT a public person than the only defense is to prove the truth of your statements. Considering that Joel is a newspaper man, it seems that it would be rather professionally embarrassing for him to argue that a person is worthy of criticism for serving up what is his bread and butter and is public information by any newsman's standard. I figure, if asked (and I've asked) he might claim a leak is how I define it - information that is legally privileged for one of 3 reasons as accorded by the WA State Public Disclosure Act.

A defense would then, in my thinking, have to prove that I've leaked in this way. Failing to prove that would prove libel. It's fun for me to think of backing someone whose picking on me (for whatever reasons) into admitting that he can't prove that I've done anything wrong and that either 1) he's publishing gossip that's mean and hurtful to a good human being and valued public servant or 2) he's picking on me for doing something that no fewer than 20 of his news colleagues in Seattle and countless citizens value me daily for doing.

Now that I'm posting this on SLOG my chances of either satisfaction are slim!

About Joel's politics… in the context of the nation, he may be a left D, but in Seattle I agree people read him because they crave his confrontational style, but I think many tire of things like his constant McDermott bashing. Nick's base (a lovely combination of “real power to the people” lefties and fiscal conservatives concerned about the basics) gets tired of the fact that every six months he writes a column that ridicules Nick for having lived in a commune.

I'll let the Strangers speak for themselves about their feelings about Joel.

Re: Nick as a conservative. You make me giggle. Nick's governing approach is guided by 3 primary principles:

1. Efficient Government by basing public investments on measurable public return.

2. Open, Transparent Government to assure that elected officials make decisions based on facts not personal contacts.

3. Fair Distribution of Public Resources across our city so that all residents have their greatest needs addressed first.

This means he often (and not cautiously at all, cuz it means taking on entities like Vulcan!) opposes big spending projects like stadiums (he founded "Citizens for More Important Things") and mega-transportation projects that require multi-hundred million dollar public investments with little benefit except for the benefit realized by the multi-billionaire property owner of the adjoining properties. It means when supporting tax-levies he looks for balance.

In the levy for Seattle Center and Community Centers he fought to see that we included just as much $$ for Community Centers throughout the city as for McCaw Hall.

For the housing levy (as well as a housing subsidy program paid for by exempting developers from taxes) he made sure that we were spending the bulk of housing dollars for the lowest income people, where the needs are greatest.

For the Library levy he worked for a balanced investment between branch libraries and the downtown library.

On other stuff, Nick's the likely strongest defender of civil liberties on the Council and he's the strongest supporter on many issues of the segment of our city that are the most marginalized. Again, I giggle when you say he's cautious, because not only does he challenge the powerful but he sticks his neck out constantly for people who are NOT powerful.

But maybe you meant something else? Do tell! I'm eager to know (shouldn't I be doing something fun instead of obsessing on SLOG? It's Friday!)

BTW – Here is a great history of the debate around issues affecting Seattle folks back to 1997, I recommend the alphabetized listing link to look up and zoom in on issues you care most about.


There was one reporter in Seattle--and one only--who consistently mentioned Licata as a possible Council President. It was Erica Barnett.

Oh, but she's a dolt because she didn't list Clark as one of the top 3 likely picks? Well, which reporter did? None. So, using your criteria, you logically should be trashing ALL reporters in Seattle. That you target your vitriol toward only one speaks volumes about you. It says nothing at all about Erica Barnett.

LH - Nick is cheap - and constantly refers to protecing someone as he
bats back needed spending.

On the Fire Stations - the longer we wait the more they will cost. Good thinking - study it to deathe, vote on it from the taxpayers, then stall.

All the while costs rise because of a building boom in progress world wide, pay another consultant, wait and wait, this makes sense?

Nick likes to squeeze the buck.

While you are posting here, tell us his plan to keep Share Wheel. A BIG CRISES in the making - with Licata chairing the council.

Is this the good progressive about to see the homeless screwed one more time - with real power - and about to do nothing?

I and many other will march on city hall with the homeless of Share Wheel. WE all know bureaucrats resent a self help movement becaude they are not needed and can't take much credit for self help sucess. Many control freaks in City Govt. ie. Particia Mac Inturf.

This unfunding move of Share Wheel stinks.

Why not ask Joel for an example?

Like many, many people, I've known the guy for decades and while he is definitely off on some sort of weird pompous trip these days, basically I think he is (or was?) a decent guy. Ignorant on a lot of issues and full of himself, but hey! what succesful person isn't a bit of a pompous ass sometimes? (Dan Savage, for example.)

So maybe the approch is to ask Joel to put up specific examples or to shut up. Privately if you like.

Would you object to that sort of challenge, Lisa? It might indeed put you on the spot.

Btw, I think it's pretty clear that "leaking" is disclosure of information which either legally or morally is supposed to be confidential.

So a staffer explaining the politics of a particular issue -- who is likely to be for and who against and why -- doesn't strike me as illegal though if the boss is cutting deals (an any legislator should be) then it might be unwise.

But I would turn the tables on Connelly. Dare him to document his claims. Could you go to court to force him simply to disclose? Not his sources mind you...but simply specific examples of where you have "leaked."

One last thing, Lisa.
If Joel's claims
1. really do impact your job
2. you have a clear conscience,
then you are absolutely wise to be taking part in this public discussion and to be denouncing and maybe challenging Joel, who may be taking his own initials too seriously.

Nick has been trying to broker a compromise on behalf of SHARE/WHEEL. He is joined only by Councilmember Drago in these efforts.

The last offer that was made (last Monday) on behalf of and upon the request of SHARE/WHEEL by Nick to the Mayor's office has yet to be accepted.

I believe if you ask anyone associated with SHARE/WHEEL they will tell you that Nick has been their strongest supporter on the Council for the 8 plus years he's served.

I encourage you to let other Council offices know of your concern about this issue. It truely is a crisis in the making. SHARE/WHEEL provides shelter for nearly 300 people each night. Without resolution, these people - now hosted by a couple dozen churches throughout the city at the lowest bed cost of any other provider - will come together and begin to live in 3 city parks. This in the 1st year of implementation of the 10 year plan to end homelessness.

Raw Data - thanks for the good advice. I have made an overture to Joel.

I'm taking a leak right now.

And I'm on the phone with a Lt. Col. at the DoD.

Neither have anything to do with each other.

Full discloure: I actually took the leak five minutes ago. And yes, I washed my hands afterward.

Peter - will need digital photo of above stated act for verification.

Send to the Stranger, pdf file. - j peg.
Your hands are of no interest.

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