Character SHOULD matter in politics, however it rarely raises its head. Joe Szwaja has a better character than anyone in politics in Seattle, just about.
Dude cut his girlfriend, ditched out on child support? Fuck 'im.
Agreed (GRANT), Joe is a solid progressive, and would do a helluva a job in city council and would allow Nick to get some things done. However his little game of ultimate frisbee with his ex's nose is going to doom him. Not to mention the child support thang. We all make mistakes, but not paying child support is just super lame. I would beg for money on the streets and sell oranges on the freeway entrances before I let my kids not get their dough. Too bad, I was excited for his run. I still hope he wins.
I'm totally confused by your position.
You state that "not paying child support is just super lame. I would beg for money on the streets and sell oranges on the freeway entrances before I let my kids not get their dough."
Yet you then go on to say that you hope a candidate who lapsed not once, BUT TWICE, in paying thousands of dollars in child support, gets elected to the Seattle City Council.
The character of a politician totally matters. Why on earth would you want some so-called "progressive" elected who is so "progressive" he doesn't even care enough to pay child support for his kid?????
Simple- Politically I think he will do a great job and be a voice for the disenfranchised in a business friendly council. Politically he is left of Nick which will allow for a more progressive council.
He was effective when he was a council man in Wisconsin and was able to do things I am interested in getting done here.
Personally, I think what he did as a man is lame.
If youre confused I suggest an IPA.
Personally, to say the least, I'm not a fan of a guy who busts up his wife and won't pay his child support, let alone am I reluctant to vote for him. He's not getting my vote and once the dirt starts flying, I'm pretty sure he's not getting the vote of at least 60-65% of active voters either.
So basically you are willing to forgive the reprehensible personal actions of a politician if he is in-sync with you politically?
I really think this sort of thinking is a disservice to the progressive ideal that you, and I, support.
I am hard pressed to think of something more unequivocally unacceptable than domestic violence, especially to progressives! That you are willing to overlook Szwaja's abuse of his girlfriend is a slap in the face to abused women everywhere and, in essence, says to abused women that it's not that big of an issue. It is clearly not a deal breaker for you. Which I think is a shame. And not at all reflective of progressive values. Progressive politicians should reflect progressive values in their personal and professional lives. Anything less is unacceptable. The Greens can, and should, do a lot better than putting up a candidate like Joe Szwaja.
Your desire to see a man of such low personal integrity and character elected simply because he says the right things is unfortunate.
I think you need an IPA to help clear your conscience if you really support this guy.
Ethical behavior, integrity, and progressive values are all important in a candidate. That is why I support Jean.
Um, exactly what are we protesting about by voting for Joe? I mean, seriously. ... Seriously.
"So basically you are willing to forgive the reprehensible personal actions of a politician if he is in-sync with you politically?" No, I never said such a thing.
"I really think this sort of thinking is a disservice to the progressive ideal that you, and I, support. "
You have a point, a valid one, but why would you support Jean Godden and call yourself a progressive.
Look frankly is a non issue because I think he is done, he wont go anywhere. my point is that he would have made a great council member.
Ugh. What a lousy choice this will be.
"Why would you support Jean Godden and call yourself a progressive?"
Because Jean Godden is a progressive. On every issue.
She's pro-union, enacted major legislation to protect the environment, supports heavy funding for social service programs, supports equality for the LGBTQ community, supports mass transit as the future for Seattle instead of more roads, and has been outspoken on all of these issues, etc, etc, etc.
Why would you think she isn't a progressive? I would check out her endorsement page: http://www.jeangodden.com/endorsements.php
She's supported by progressives from UNITE HERE Local 8 to Peter Steinbrueck.
This myth that she isn't progressive is exactly that: a myth.
Godden supported the tunnel. $5 billion for the absolutely worst transportation choice.
Joe didn't have his wages garnished 10/26/2004 for parking in load zones, driveways and not paying the transit MVET. Now if he had done that, maybe he would deserve this reporting of personal destruction. Right ECB.
You're an idiot. 7 out of 9 Councilmembers supported the tunnel (including Steinbrueck). So I am assuming you're calling for the ouster of all 7 because they disagreed with you on one transportation policy initiative?
After the city-wide vote, which the City Council called for, all members, including former tunnel supporters like Godden and Steinbrueck, have agreed that a new alternative needs to be developed.
And to compare a parking ticket (not that Szwaja, no stranger to a jail cell, hasn't also been arrested for traffic violations) to domestic violence is pathetic. Go crawl back under your rock.
Godden is not a progressive on most issues. And her leadership is underwhelming at best. Anyone who has worked with her and isn't paid to make her look good knows it. She has to run a campaign based on personality politics and name recognition to obscure how underwhelming she's been the last four years.
She not only supported the tunnel but also was a huge backer of Paul Allen's streetcar (along with any number of other public subsidies for SL Union redevelopment)-- some vision! Who helped fund her first election? Among others, landlords trying to get rid of Judy Nicastro. What has she done on affordable housing since being elected? Mainly helped dilute the meaning of affordable housing so that market rate and near-market rate housing can get tax breaks and government subsidies. And while I know it's not the dominant topic of the day, I think it's worth noting that she's poor on police accountability issues as well.
Godden does have the support of unions, and supports the rights of workers to organize. That's good, but not enough. The unions attached to her, while they may be aggressive in advocating on behalf of their members, are acting more like an interest group and than a social movement. There's more to being a progressive than voting the right way on project labor agreements. You have to ask more about public private partnerships than whether they will provide a few unionized construction or janitor jobs.
As for Joe, I think ECB is right that while he has impeccable lefty cred, he and his supporters' immediate, early responses to revelations about his personal life have been too dismissive. Her elaboration that "I’m not saying people can’t reform themselves, but they have to make a compelling case" is spot on. Joe can't rest on his laurels or dismiss questions about his personal life out of hand. He will have to make a compelling case. I think he can do that, certainly better than anyone could make a compelling case that Jean Godden is a progressive.
ok, so first the disclosure: i do think Joe would be downright great on council.
here's my concern with this thread - yes, he threw a plate at his ex and cut her face. he has acknowledged this. we will never know the truth about what happened in that place on that day. and i don't know about all of you but while i'm much the same as i was 20 years ago, i've also learned a ton and maybe Joe has too. i'm pretty sure that 20 years ago if someone threw a glass at me, i might have thrown something back.
now i would not - not a chance. perhaps Joe has grown up too.
ditto lame. Twenty-five years ago a girlfriend threw a knife at me during an argument and I reflexively threw the beer I was holding straight at her. Luckily, I'm a lousy pitcher and so the bottle hit the wall behind her and shattered relatively harmlessly.
That was the one and only incidence of anything resembling domestic violence in my life and we went on to have a great eight year relationship.
But suppose it had hit her or one of the shards had cut her. I'm supposed to be judged on that 25 years later? Batcrap.
Dude sounds like a royal A-Hole to me, but ECB is bound to get all swoony because of Left of Sims politics (or so he claims)...
Full disclosure: I am not paid to make Jean Godden look good but I do think she is a great councilmember. Just because she doesn't have a great publicity machine, or call a press conference everytime she does something important doesn't mean she isn't doing great things for the people of Seattle.
To take on a few of your points:
Yes, the SLU Streetcar is going to be subsidized, but newsflash: ALL mass transit is. Metro buses and Sound Transit are subsidized, should we cut those programs? Godden supports taking steps to give people an alternative to driving. Last I checked, that's a progressive value.
"What has she done on affordable housing since being elected? Mainly helped dilute the meaning of affordable housing so that market rate and near-market rate housing can get tax breaks and government subsidies" For someone who claims to work in politics a) you don't mention that the city has no jurisdiction over limiting condo conversions or limiting rent prices and b) completely leave out the fact that Godden was one of the leaders on the the Council who made the Mayor agree to a $20 sq/ft tax on buildings built above the new height limit that goes straight into a fund to pay for affordable housing. Again, that's progressive legislation.
And finally, you complete omit all the environmental protections that Councilmember Godden has helped passed (again, the last time I checked, protecting the environment was pretty central to progressives). From greening up Seattle City Light to taking the lead on the Environmentally Critical Areas Ordinance, etc. Look it up. She's been a very effective progressive legislator on the council. Which is why she has such broad-based support amongst the labor and environmental communities.
And for the record, labor unions are on the front lines of fighting for social justice in this country. Yes, they are acting on behalf of their membership, but they are also smart enough to have a big picture view and to work in coalitions to advance the social good of the disadvantaged. If you don't think UNITE HERE is doing amazing, progressive advocacy and organizing (and whom Jean actively worked with and supported during her term), well I dunno, we just disagree.
It seems that many local reporters are happy to dig up this old dirt and leave it at that. It's sad because Joe is actually a man of great character who has been working diligently over the last decades to improve conditions for people locally and in other parts of the world. He would be a great city council member.
If Erica Barnett and the Stranger want to print this old crap, at least have the decency to follow up and talk with some of the many people who defended Joe in response to the original smear campaign by Angela Galloway. Instead Erica Barnett dismisses us and finds our response "frankly, a little shocking." She states that we "attacked Galloway personally" and called "her article “shoddy,” “unprincipled...." Well in fact her article was a great example of poor journalism but aside from that, we know Joe. And if you are worried about Joe's character....you do NOT know Joe.
We defend Joe because we know that these events are not Joe. I personally know some of the background surrounding these events. It is difficult to express regret without offering some insight or explanation. But you can't publicly offer an explanation because 1.) it will SOUND like you're trying to defend your actions even though you are not and 2.) in the sound-bite ridden media any statement can be taken out of context to mean something unintended or not true.
Joe is a good man. I urge people to also consider his accomplishments in Madison and in Seattle as well as considering the respect he has earned in our communities.
Is this what you mean by "Look into the red eye of your god!" ?
I defend Joe Szwaja because I know the man personally and he is not the person that the Godden campaign -- who fed this story to the media -- want to portray him as.
Joe is a principled, kind, gentle and decent man whose integrity is without question to me. I'm very disappointed that Erica Barnett would devote so much of this piece to an incident in which Joe accident hurt an ex girlfriend after being attacked, and then not even ask Joe himself about it for his side of the story.
This isn't a slam on women who have suffered physical abuse -- my own mother spent time in an abusive relationship when I was young -- because Joe IS NOT A VIOLENT MAN and this accident is a lone incident that has never happened before or since and it's sad if THIS is the reason people don't vote for him.
He's a fine candidate, a credible candidate and a wonderful human being. Just ask anyone who knows him. Ask his friends. Ask fellow activists. Ask his students. Ask his students' parents.
Joe is a helluva stand up guy and one who doesn't deserve to be smeared.
It's unfortunate that Ms. Barnett accepted the same framing of this issue that Galloway did in her article, which is that of an attack on Szwaja's character without giving any mention of the context of the incidents or of the testimony many in Seattle are willingly giving in support of Joe's character.
With respect to the domestic violence incident, Joe did speak to that and express his regret on the latest "Mind over Matters" radio show, which Ms. Barnett should have noted. Also, a simple Google search can find the article Campaign Brochure Infuriates Alderman, Saturday, March 30, 1991, By Michael Stone The Capital Times http://www.madison.com/archives/ read.php?ref=/tct/1991/03/30/9 103300407.php).
The article points out, among other things, that the woman involved in the incident stated that what happened was a freak accident; she never wanted Szwaja arrested or charges pressed; she threatened to sue Szwaja’s opponent at the time who was making insinuations of domestic violence, calling his literature “slanderous” and “sleazy”; and she complimented Joe as a very responsible parent and even went on to sign a sworn statement stating that the incident was an accident. Also, Madison voters re-elected him twice after all these issues were discussed in the papers.
These things are at least worthy of mention, as is the fact that there was exactly *one* incident. There were no other violent incidents either before or in the 17 years since. Furthermore, he’s been a school teacher for the past 14 years and worked with many women with no problem, and been happily married for many years, also with no problems.
Also the facts about paying for his son's birth (and child support) are misleadingly stated: he did pay everything eventually. At the time I believe he earned less than $16,000 a year and had some trouble paying these bills on time. Joe has a very good relationship with his son and a letter from his adult son in support of Joe is on his website.
Could Joe have had a better driving record? Yes, but I can't believe his poor driving record from 15 years ago in another state (no problems in Seattle) is a worthy campaign issue. At least some of the issues in this race are as stated on Joe Szwaja’s site, joeforcouncil.com/2007_06 _01a.html and are much more worthy of discussion.
As long as we're talking about character, I'd like to say that I know Joe personally, and think he's one of the kindest and gentlest people I know. We've worked together for over 10 years on human rights issues, and I've always been inspired by his tireless courage and devotion to help the less fortunate, even when things have looked hopeless. His conscience and character are of the highest order.
Other than taking a vow of silence and retiring to a monastery, I don't know what more he could have been expected to do to demonstrate who he is and what he stands for. Apparently some of the posters on this site are fundamentalists who think a man should be forever condemned for a past mistake, but I'm hoping the voting public will be mole discerning.
Hey Godden Supporter (@ 18),
If you're not paid to make her look good (and by that I include lobbyists and interest groups who are invested in her), then why don't you give us an authentic handle to go by in your "full disclosure"? As in: your name. I don't work in politics. But I guess you do? Where is that, exactly?
As for your misdirections: 1) the streetcar was not a mass transit priority, it was a Paul Allen SLU redevelopment priority, and certainly not anything that will significantly reduce auto trips; 2) I wasn't talking about rent control or condo conversion, I was talking about Godden's vote to give tax breaks to developers who develop studio apartments that rent for as much as $950 a month at a time of crisis for real affordable housing; and 3) I'm a labor union member and movement supporter, but there's more to politics than the right to organize. Fact: even "progressive" unions tend to turn a blind eye to corporate welfare and public-private partnership boondoggles. Godden isn't all bad, but you're greatly exaggerating her leadership and accomplishments, and stripping the meaning from the term "progressive" in the process.
@ 23 Trevor (if that's even your real name), I don't give out my personal info on the internet, let alone on SLOG. That's why people use nicknames. It's kind of the standard format on here.
If you want to mischaracterize a few of Godden's positions in a feeble attempt to cast her as "unprogressive," be my guest. But you are just flat out wrong.
Just one example, because apparently you had your head buried in the sand when the Council approved, 7 to 2, the Streetcar.
From the PI:
"The Seattle City Council gave the go-ahead to the South Lake Union streetcar yesterday, approving a plan to pay for construction and operation, using only limited and specific money from the city's general fund.
Private property owners along the route will pay more than half of the cost of building the streetcar line, which is a key part of Mayor Greg Nickels' effort to redevelop the neighborhood as a biotechnology hub and upscale urban neighborhood.
The rest of the construction money is expected to come from state and regional public transportation grants.
"Initially I was a skeptic, given all the other funding priorities that we have," Councilman Richard Conlin, head of the council's Transportation Committee, said yesterday.
"We set some very stringent requirements that they would have to meet to make this work, and the mayor's plan meets the criteria."
Council members were adamant that the South Lake Union streetcar isn't a project to itself, but should be viewed as the first leg of a system that will eventually stretch into other neighborhoods.
The 2.6-mile line approved by the council yesterday will run from Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to Westlake. Supporters say the streetcar could be running by late 2007.
Before construction starts, the council still has to approve formation of a Local Improvement District to tax businesses along the route.
The council voted 7 to 2 to support the plan, with Nick Licata and Peter Steinbrueck voting against it."
Doesn't exactly sound like a crazy boondoggle.
And the fact that you do not mention any of her impressive environmental accomplishments while on the council gives truth to the fact that you have already made up your mind, as have i, so this discussion is moot.
When August and November role around I will be taking my cues from progressives like Conlin and Steinbrueck and SEIU and UNITE HERE and casting my ballot for the progressive Jean Godden.
You are more than welcome to vote for Joe as a big pointless and meaningless fuck you to "the establishment." However, I don't know if having a guy who once played ultimate frisbee with his wife's face is really who you want leading your protest movement (what exactly your protesting is, as Will @ 8 said, still confusing).
I am skeptical about Szwaja because of his record, but it would be nice if the Stranger gave this him a fair look rather than dismiss him based on a 20 year old incident that we don't know the whole story of. Why do the Godden campaign's job for them? They have enough money for their own ads.
The Godden Supporter writing, "However, I don't know if having a guy who once played ultimate frisbee with his wife's face" makes me immediately suspicious that they are going for character assassination because they don't want to address the issues. We need more real progressives in government. If he has a good record for the last 20 years I may be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and vote for him. I'm just sick of these mainstream politicians getting elected.
Actually, Trevor is my real name. Seems like Jude, Manu, Will, Mike, Zander, Grant and Doug all used their names in this thread alone. How hard can it be?
Agreed that there's not much use in debating. But for the record, the Mayor is asking for another $3 million from the City to fund the streetcar-- exactly what he originally promised would not happen.
So what we're really saying is this: if one has lived a sheltered life, where one never made mistakes, then you can run for office--as a progressive. But lets face it--if the PI and the Stranger didn't have Szwaja's past to recycle for the next four months, they would find something else. That is because the liberal establishment feels entitled to all progressive votes, and feel very safe in a two party system. I challenge the Stranger and others to give the same treatment to all candidates as they give to greens and to actually write an article that doesn't include, "Buuuuut, there this past stuff". Yes we know. Now, tell us something new, please.
I'm disappointed in Ms. Barnett. You've done your readers a disservice by highlighting one blight on the record of one of the most outstanding citizens in Seattle. Do we judge a man for a few of his actions twenty years ago, or do we take into account his accomplishments since then?
Joe walks a walk that most of us can't even comprehend: as social studies and Spanish teacher, Joe makes human rights awareness an integral aspect of his curriculum; he organizes yearly trips to Guatemala, where his students not only learn Spanish but experience a hands-on crash course on US foreign policy and the many struggles of a third world nation. His fundraising efforts have raised hundreds of thousands for local progressive organizations, from Katrina Relief to Washington Public Campaigns and Instant Runoff Voting to renewable energy. As outrageous as it sounds, it is no exaggeration to say that he played a small but significant role in a tiny unknown Asian island gaining its independence from one of the most ruthless oppressors of modern times.
Not only has Joe done all this, but he has a record as an elected official, serving seven years on the city council of Madison WI. And all this since his "regrettable incident".
Of course, with 50 years experience as a gossip columnist for the PI, Godden is nothing compared to Joe. So instead of debating issues -where she would fail- her campaign opts instead to fling dirt.
C'mon, Stranger, you can do better....
I guess more than anything I am "shocked" at Eric Barnett for accepting the "frame" provided by the Godden campaign so readily without doing any basic journalism herself.
As a resident of Madison when Joe Szwaja served on the common council (though not in his specific district), I can say that these matters received less scrutiny then at the time than they are now. This is not to say that personal matters are off-limits with respect to showing how behavior and character are related. But from Joe's reputation at the time, his standing in that community and from the context of the events which are not going to be captured twenty years later through newspaper microfiche and police blogs, these are non-stories posing as analysis.
As a matter of fact, it is downright Rovian. Isn't it an example of Sun Tzu's (and thereby, Karl Rove's) maxim that you attack your opponent's STRENGTH in politics? If Joe is running as the "principled" candidate, wouldn't Karl Rove attack in this very way?
No, what is more shocking is that Joe Szwaja has people lined up in both Seattle and Madison who are willing to vouch for the person he is, the principles he holds and the integrity he embodies and both of these apparently "cub" reporters can't seem to find a one to quote or get a good story from. Here's a clue: why doesn't somebody ask Joe about the "sanctuary vote" from around the time of the Gulf War and staring down mean, redneck ex-GI's who were p*ssed and looking like they were going to pull out guns in the middle of the council debate on the proposal? It was one of the bravest things I have ever witnessed in local politics.
I am extremely disappointed in Ms. Barnett and the Stranger, a reporter for whom and a paper for which I have great admiration and respect. Their reporting on transportation is absolutely topnotch. But apparently when it comes to giving progressive politicians a fair shake (which is more than we expect from any other rag in town), the Stranger, like most of the rest of the left, loves to eat its own.
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