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Monday, July 23, 2007

OPARB Asks the Mayor For An Apology

posted by on July 23 at 23:35 PM

This letter was hand-delivered to the Mayor’s office today:

Dear Mayor Nickels: The OPA Review Board demands a retraction of your public accusation that we were somehow responsible for the June 18 leak of our draft report to the Seattle Times. You appeared last Wednesday, July 11, on Seattle Channel’s television show “Ask the Mayor”, hosted by C.R.Douglas.

When asked about your criticism of the Board, you stated:

Mayor Nickels: …I have been critical simply in terms of these recent reports that have been [sic] come out—the first one that was leaked to the press as a confidential draft document, I thought that was unfortunate. I don’t think that helped… ah…the credibility of the Board…

CR Douglas: Do we know that it was them that leaked it?

Mayor Nickels: Well, they certainly spread it around widely enough that it wasn’t a shock that it was, ah, sent to a…

CR Douglas: So you hold them accountable for the leak?

Mayor Nickels: I, I think so. And their report wasn’t ready; it had, just…it was wrong in many instances. It accused the Chief, for instance, of inappropriate…

CR Douglas: But they admit it was a draft—I mean they weren’t, they weren’t trying to have it as their definitive statement…

Mayor Nickels: And when it was a draft it ought not to be on the front page of the newspaper for three or four mornings. Ah, so, I think that hurt the credibility of the Board, and I’ve expressed that….

It is irresponsible for anyone—let alone Seattle’s mayor—to make such false charges, especially where accountability, transparency and citizen volunteers are involved. While asserting that the Board “spread [the draft report] around widely enough” to cause the leak, you fail to disclose that you and Chief Kerlikowske also received our draft report
prior to the leak—and thus had both opportunity and motive to leak the document yourselves.
Consistent with our normal procedure, we intended to review our final report with the OPA Director and Chief Kerlikowske prior to its public release. When Deputy Mayor Ceis demanded copies of the report on June 18, there was no final report and no scheduled release date. Despite the ensuing leak later that same evening, we were frankly astonished at the ferocity of the press conference held by you and Chief Kerlikowske the very next morning. The Chief later apologized on KUOW’s June 28 “Weekday” show for his ad hominem attacks on Mr. Holmes; until your own contrary statements on last Wednesday’s Seattle Channel show, however, we didn’t believe any Seattle official could be so reckless as to accuse the Board of leaking its own report. We hereby deny any involvement in the leak of OPARB’s draft report to the Seattle Times. We further publicly release the Times and its journalists from any agreement not to disclose the source of the leak. We do so freely and without any coercion or pressure from anyone. Accordingly, if any OPARB member was responsible in any way for the June 18 leak, we urge the Times to report that fact publicly.We will continue to press for transparency in Seattle’s police accountability system, Mr. Mayor. We owe nothing less to the citizens of Seattle as well as the great majority of Seattle police officers who serve with professional dedication, every day. You, in turn, must similarly commit to seeking out the truth instead of reckless scapegoating, no matter how politically convenient the latter course may be.

Peter Holmes, Brad Moericke, Sheley Secrest

According to Peter Holmes, OPARB has not received a response and isn’t expecting one.

RSS icon Comments


Can we recall this guy?

Posted by DOUG. | July 24, 2007 7:34 AM

Good luck with that, Peter. Pfft!

Posted by Mr. Poe | July 24, 2007 8:45 AM

OPARB wants to escalate the swearing contest? This could get interesting. How many official pre-release recipients were there? And how many unofficial recipients, in how many chains of custody?

Note that Chief K publicly and unequivocally denies seeing the OPARB draft in advance of the leak (Seattle Times, June 19):

Kerlikowske said he had not received a copy of the report, which has not been released publicly. It was obtained by The Seattle Times, and when a reporter read him the key findings, he called them "absolutely false."
Apart from the policy dispute, and the question of how the report reached the Times, is OAPRB now on record calling Kerlikowske a liar on this more mundane process-story clash of assertions?

Potentially interesting that a letter "hand-delivered to the Mayor’s office" received same-day posting in the media. Anything special to report on that front, Jonah?

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 24, 2007 9:54 AM

Is Patrick Fitzgerald available?

Only a really stupid journalist would encourage a witchhunt on a leak, but have at it!

Posted by Valerie Plame | July 24, 2007 12:22 PM

I read this to mean that OPARB does not want to play the political game that the Mayor's office is used to playing. For OPARB to publicly release any journalist to freely report if they leaked the document is a smart move. Their obvious goals are accountability, transparancy and good government (not re-election). Good for them!
It will be interesting to see if the Mayor, Tim Ceis and the Chief have the same good ethics.

Posted by Batman | July 24, 2007 1:38 PM

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