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Friday, June 22, 2007

Abortion, the PATRIOT Act, and Your City Council

posted by on June 22 at 16:00 PM

The King County Democrats have posted this year’s candidate questionnaires on their web site, and along with the usual unanimous answers to the Dems’ yes/no questions (yes, everyone supports gay rights; no, they don’t want to ban abortion) are a few intriguing caveats (places on the questionnaire where a candidate’s “yes” or “no” is “qualified.”) The written answers are usually pretty useless, but they, too, offer a few insights.

Now, clearly, questions about things like abortion rights and the Davis-Bacon Act aren’t really directly relevant to city politics. However, where a candidate stands on issues like abortion can make a difference in how people vote; two years ago, when Richard McIver challenger Robert Rosencrantz gave a “qualified” answer to the question, “Do you support abortion rights?” it gave dyed-in-the-wool Democrats pause about supporting him.

On to the questions: When asked, “Do you support the PATRIOT Act?”, two candidates (of those who filled out questionnaires; not all the candidates running this year had filed yet) gave “qualified” responses. Those were Bruce Harrell, running for the open seat being vacated by Peter Steinbrueck, and Tim Burgess, running against incumbent David Della. In his questionnaire, Harrell says that although the PATRIOT Act is “overreaching,” he does “support the need for legislation designed to secure our country from terrorists and threats to our national security.” (Asked how he would work to improve the lives of the economically disadvantaged, Harrell suggests that it’s mostly a matter of improving their self-esteem.) Burgess says that although he doesn’t support the act’s limits on civil liberties, he does “support those provisions that allowed for the sharing of criminal intelligence and investigative facts between law enforcement and intelligence agencies to better protect public safety.”

The other thing that struck me while slogging through all that paper was how quickly ideas that were once on the fringe become conventional wisdom. I’m thinking, specifically, of the surface/transit option for the viaduct, which a majority of candidates for council now say they’re at least open to; and a ban on plastic bags, which several candidates support (and which the City Council is considering). It wasn’t so long ago that both ideas were considered the realm of the loony lefties.

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Bruce Harrill is down with the Patriot act? Put a fork in him.

Posted by SeMe | June 22, 2007 4:05 PM

I would have to agree with Harrill. The PATRIOT act is not all bad. Sharing intelligence is a good thing, so is the stuff about modernizing the way government works.

Posted by Giffy | June 22, 2007 4:38 PM

True dat, SeMe.

But the funny thing is I'm pretty sure a lot of candidates who were against Surface/Transit (and actively or behind the scenes worked to kill it) are now suddenly for it ...


Posted by Will in Seattle | June 22, 2007 4:39 PM

Port Commission candidate Gael Tarleton also gave a qualified answer to the Patriot Act...

Posted by LG | June 22, 2007 4:48 PM

The correct answer to that question is "The Patriot Act doesn't have anything to do with running the City of Seattle, and I'm not going to answer any more questions from YOU, nitwit. Next?"

Posted by Fnarf | June 22, 2007 4:50 PM

But Fnarf, how else will they pass meaningless resolutions.

Posted by Giffy | June 22, 2007 4:53 PM

"[Harrelll] would work to improve the lives of the economically disadvantaged, Harrell suggests that itís mostly a matter of improving their self-esteem"

so he's saying no, it's a good thing to have poor people that can barely afford to eat - shit, if they would only appreciate being poor, then it wouldn't really matter...

is dicktard a republican in sheep's clothing or just an asshole?

someone needs to kneecap that mother fucker, and check his self esteem into the boards.

Posted by mike | June 22, 2007 5:10 PM

@5 - um, did you read the prior post, Fnarf? Gael's running for Port. Not city.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 22, 2007 5:17 PM

Speaking of the PATRIOT act, anyone catch Harrell at the Hate Free Zone forum last night? He almost started screaming when asked if he supported Nick Licata's proposal to reconfirm police and fire chiefs. I was scurred. His response, accompanied by a lot of hand gestures, finger pointing to his brain, and bulging biceps, was, "In case you didn't know, we have an affordable housing crisis, people. I want the council to muscle up and focus on big vision ideas, not this kind of thing. This will get handled." If the "put your head in the sand" strategy doesn't particularly reassure you, you can get a good night's sleep knowing that he and Gil are best buds. As he said, "I have lunch with Chief Gerlikowski."

Posted by apigrrl | June 22, 2007 5:36 PM

Open to surface/transit now... ahhhh the Council voted for the stupid tunnel as 1st choice and nothing as their backup position and in the meantime the Gov is building the ends of a new viaduct - but what I'm dying to know is what the candidates say about that other disaster waiting to happen - the seawall. Haven't heard a gribble stir since the vote. Whazzup?

Posted by whatever | June 22, 2007 6:06 PM

Viaduct, 520 and this roads'n'transit deal are 3 big issues but hard to find out where our city council candidates and incumbents stand!

One council member told me before the viaduct vote it would be illegal for him to tell me his stand!

So today....what exactly are the candidates' positions on all 3?

Saw one current challenger who said more indecision on viaduct is good, hiring mediator for 520 is good and he didn't know whether he favored 4 lanes or 6, and he never got around to roads'n' ttransit (guess package hadn't been put together yet).

Stranger: can you make a scorecard? Maybe with a helpful "undecided" line as a catchall residual category (incl. undecided, "we need more process," refuse to say, "prefer mediator to tell me what to do").

Posted by Scorekeeper | June 22, 2007 6:19 PM

That Harrell is a screamer...does it a lot. Almost as annoying as referring to himself in the 3rd person.

Posted by watcher | June 22, 2007 7:06 PM

Giffy @2 - it's Burgess who thinks sharing intelligence is a good thing, not Harrell. Suspect it's about which of the two of them have any to share.

Posted by watcher | June 22, 2007 7:08 PM

The Patriot Act does have some seriously fucked up provisions, and I suspect even violates the Constitution in a number of ways. Having said that, it isn't 100% bad. The notion of doing more to protect ports, modernizing communications between different parts of law enforcement, things like that.

So I don't have a problem with a "qualified no" answer. It actually gives some indication that the candidate has given more thorough thought to it. It is a vast complex Act. Simply saying fuck it and tossing it out entirely is a knee jerk reaction. I'd be just as happy if they removed the more egregious gestapo aspects, and left the milder helpful aspects alone.

That said, I agree with Fnarf. Who the hell cares what city council members think of a Federal program which they have no say in? How about asking them stuff about, oh, maybe city government.

Posted by SDA in SEA | June 22, 2007 10:35 PM

This is surprising?
This is a guy who's running, with part of his platform to make Seattle Public Schools better, but in his personal life opts out and sends his kids to perhaps the most expensive private schools around!
And he likes to talk about his discrimination lawsuit against Boeing that he won. But he doesn't say that once he won for the plaintiffs, and Boeing and he (and the other attorneys) reached a settlement, that the judge threw out the planned settlement because the attorney's share was "too excessive." When was the last time you heard a judge toss out a class-action settlement because attorney fees were too high?

Posted by TJ | June 25, 2007 11:26 AM

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Posted by mebip hzpnjctl | June 25, 2007 4:05 PM

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Posted by mebip hzpnjctl | June 25, 2007 4:09 PM

@ 4.

I don't think you're correct on Gael. Here's her King Co Questionnaire:

She says NO on the question on the Patriot Act.

Posted by 43rd Voter | June 28, 2007 1:25 PM

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