Politics Team Nickels to Seattle Times: Get a Clue
On Saturday night after the shooting, I posted on Slog warning the dance community to brace itself for the predictable editorials that were surely on the way: “Dances are dangerous! Reinstate the Teen Dance Ordinance (TDO)!”
On cue, the Seattle Times’s lead editorial on Monday morning seized on Saturday’s tragedy and demanded a thorough review of teen dance rules.
Today, the Seattle Times keeps up its drum beat of demagoguery, explicitly condemning Mayor Nickels and the city council for repealing the TDO in 2002 and advocating stricter rules, such as ensuring that security at teen dances must be off-duty cops. That old requirement, however, allowed the SPD to exercise a sort of prior restraint over dances by simply refusing to allow its officers to work shows. That gave SPD the power to discriminate against any show they chose, which made promoters shy away from putting them on.
Let’s be clear: Under current teen dance rules—which require security—there were 19 security personnel at CHAC on Saturday night, according to CHAC director Matthew Kwatinetz.
Why was there so much security at Friday night’s rave? Because, as Kwatinetz told me, he expected a huge crowd. And a huge crowd showed up. This brings us to the point that the Seattle Times seems incapable of grasping. There’s a huge demand among teens for dances—for something to do on the weekend. If the city institutes rules redolent of the prohibitive TDO, teens won’t have the option of going to fun and creative parties like zombie dress-up dances, and they will end up at more free-form, un-regulated house parties and hanging out in parking lots. Upping the amount of time that teens spend in unregulated situations (by de facto banning sponsored events like CHAC’s electronic music show) will up the amount of potentially dangerous situations for teenagers.
The Seattle Times says it wants to take away opportunities for teenagers to get into trouble. Unfortunately, their emotional response would create more situations for trouble.
Sitting down to dinner after a long day Saturday, the Stranger news team glumly anticipated this reaction from the Seattle Times. We began the conversation by asking ourselves, ‘Hey, was Margaret Pageler right?’ In her failed but stalwart defense of the TDO four years ago, was Pageler actually prescient? However, after talking through our own emotional response to the murders, we collected our senses and came to the conclusion that Pageler was wrong.
Savage and I have an editorial in today’s Stranger that was intended to head off the Seattle Times’s predictable reaction.
My favorite part of our editorial is the quote I got from the mayor’s office, which seconds Dan & me by telling the Seattle Times to get a clue. (Team Nickels proudly repealed the TDO in 2002.)
The hysterics at the Seattle Times don’t get it but Mayor Nickels seems to. Nickels spokesman Marty McOmber says the mayor had no comment on Balter’s editorial, but, “I will say, there is nothing to connect the rave to the shooting at the house on Saturday morning. Raves are well-regulated events, and by all accounts the rave at CHAC on Friday night was well operated. We do know that we don’t want to drive this scene underground.”