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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Tim Burgess Interview

posted by on September 6 at 17:57 PM

Yesterday, Dan, Josh and I met with Tim Burgess, who’s running against incumbent David Della for City Council. My main goal was to find out what he was thinking when he, as the owner of an international ad agency based in Seattle, took on anti-gay, anti-woman hate group Concerned Women for America as a client in 1999. Concerned Women, Slog readers will recall, is the D.C.-based group that wants to ban abortion, believes homosexuality is a disease, and thinks birth control is abortion. For a look at what the lovely ladies of CWA are up to in Washington State (mostly seeking to ban sex ed and allow pharmacists to refuse to do their jobs) go here.

Additionally, Dan, Josh, and I were concerned about an opinion piece Burgess wrote for the Seattle Times in the wake of the 2004 election. In that op/ed, Burgess asserted that if the Democrats wanted to win over “values voters” (religious voters who were widely credited for Bush’s reelection), they needed to understand what their values were. Among other things, Burgess wrote, values voters “don’t like abortion. We value the sacredness of marriage between a woman and man. We recognize that not everyone agrees with us and we know the law isn’t a good mechanism to resolve these issues, but moral persuasion is.”

Burgess has since tried to distance himself from those views, saying that he was merely trying to describe what certain people of faith believe. Given the context in which that editorial was written—two months after Bush was swept to reelection by values voters, after a year of anti-gay-marriage initiatives in which “upholding the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman” was code for banning gay marriage—we were skeptical.

First of all, I give Burgess credit for showing up. Given the beating he’s taken on Slog over his editorial and his association with CWA, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he wanted to stay as far away from the Stranger’s office as possible. Compare Burgess’s stand-up behavior to his opponent David Della, who has not returned a single call from anyone at the Stranger since I wrote a mildly critical story about him after he defeated Heidi Wills four years ago. (No city council member, in my experience, has ever held a grudge that long; hell, even Margaret Pageler would sit down with us.)

Over the course of an hour-plus interview Burgess explained but didn’t exactly absolve himself. Although he did say working with CWA was “a mistake” that he wouldn’t repeat if he could do it over again, he never quite managed to explain his rapid (very rapid) transformation from ad agency executive working for anti-gay, anti-choice hate group to city council candidate with a pro-gay-marriage, pro-choice platform. “It was a business decision,” Burgess said. “I told my employees later that it was the wrong decision.” Burgess said he tried after one or two years to convince his partner, Richard Perry, to drop what eventually became an eight-or-nine year contract, but Perry would not agree. In lieu of dropping CWA, Burgess said, his firm began allowing employees to recuse themselves from working on CWA literature and other projects, an opportunity Burgess availed himself of as well. (His former employee James McWhinney, who is gay, corroborates this, saying he himself “chose not to” work on the CWA campaign. McWhinney describes the “culture” of Burgess’s agency as “one in which I finally felt free to be myself.”) Given the chance to represent CWA now, Burgess said, “I would say no because I don’t want to be associated with those kind of messages. Those are hate messages and a distortion of what I view the Christian doctrine to be.

But let’s not let Burgess off the hook completely. After all, his firm did profit handsomely from their association with—and creation of—what Burgess now describes as “hate messages.” (In Burgess’s own words, “[CWA] came up with themes and we executed them.”) In 2003 alone, they took in $328,000 from CWA. That’s a lot of money from a contract Burgess now says was “a mistake”. And Burgess was the person at his firm directly responsible for bringing in new business; he told us he “can’t recall” whether he approached CWA or vice versa.

As for that editorial: Burgess told us he was only trying to “describe the views of voters from my faith tradition,” adding: “My assessment of that election was that Senator Kerry lost because he did not connect with people of faith. It was a plea to my political party to welcome these people to the table.” Throughout our interview, he used similar language, referring to values voters in the third person: “Those people,” “their views”. But in the 2005 editorial itself, he made it clear that he considered himself a values voter, using the first person throughout. “[F]or many of us, our political views are shaped and guided by our religious faith. We’re not Bible-thumpers, but we read it, study it and believe it.

Burgess described the op/ed as “an attempt to say to my political party, this is a big issue that needs to be addressed.” But he refused to tell us whether he voted for Kerry or Bushóresponding a bit too pointedly that “no American should have to answer that question.” (He was more willing to reveal that he voted in favor of both the four-foot rule in strip clubs and pro-pot Initiative 75).

Burgess now says he fully supports equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians. As recently as a year ago, however, he did not. He says the evolution of his position on the marriage issue came after he started considering a run for council, when he talked to gay and lesbian friends about what issues they considered most important. “At the time, I supported civil unions and I viewed marriage as something that happened within the context of the church,” Burgess told us yesterday. “After talking with (gay former City Council member] Tina [Podlodowski] and [gay state rep] Joe [McDermott], I decided that I had been hung up on a semantical issue.” However, he acknowledges that he would not push his own pastor to perform gay weddings or lobby the leaders of his own denomination to allow them. “I’m just not there yet,” he said, adding: “I’m running for city council, not city theologian.”

Asked again about the coded anti-gay language in his editorial (“sacredness of marriage between a woman and a man”), Burgess said it was not his “intent” to suggest that only men and women should be allowed to marry, a point that Dan didn’t find entirely convincing. “That’s the only possible interpretation of that phrase!” he shouted. Burgess responded: “Maybe I should have written it in a different way or more artfully, but I didn’t.

Ultimately, I believe that Burgess’s contrition is sincere, that he supports abortion rights and gay marriage, and that he has, as he told us yesterday, “evolved and learned from my experiences in life.” What I don’t know is whether the City Council is ready for a member whose views have shown a tendency to shift so rapidly.

RSS icon Comments


Sounds like flip-flopper to me.

Posted by Ziggity | September 6, 2007 5:02 PM
What I donít know is whether the City Council is ready for a member whose views have shown a tendency to shift so rapidly.

Are you kidding me? He's saying he'll vote your ticket, he sits for four years. If he spins, he goes after the first term. Fuck sake, if Nicastro and Wills can both be burned for something as paltry as "Strippergate" I think we could bounce this guy for kicking against gay marriage or abortion.

Tell the truth, ECB, you just want to see him in a hair shirt before you'll endorse him.

Posted by Judah | September 6, 2007 5:05 PM


One could look at Tim as a bridge between the left and center. Someone who's example could bring more people under the democratic tent, and perhaps help evolve other people's views of gay issues.

There are plenty of places that desparately need that bridge, but the thing is, Seattle isn't one of them. We're mostly just lefties here, so we can comfortably do our thing and ignore everyone else. Tim would be much more politically valuable in places like eastern Washington or the midwest.

And fuck him for voting against my right to pay a half-naked hottie writhe around on my lap.

Posted by Sean | September 6, 2007 5:16 PM

So, now, did you talk to him about other stuff as well?

I understand why The Stranger would look into the issue. It's quite important for this publication to answer these questions for its own constituency.

But at the same time - he's not going to be making probably any decisions as a City Council member about these issues.

I'd like to know more about his local thoughts. I'm sure those will be a factor in any editorial you write, though, so I'll be patient.

Posted by Sam | September 6, 2007 5:18 PM

I respect him for changing his views if it is genuine - and yes you'll find my picture in the dictionary next to the word cynicism.

Isn't convincing people like Tim Burgess that gay men and lesbians deserve the same rights as everyone else what some of us are spending our volunteer time, money, blood, sweat and tears trying to do?

People and their views can and do change over time. Not to say that I'd vote for him, but do we have any info on Della for comparison and contrast or is he like a secret agent?

Posted by Original Andrew | September 6, 2007 5:22 PM

Who the fuck says that no American should have to answer whether they voted for Kerry or Bush? If I were a maniacal dictator who still for some reason encouraged popular voting I would make that the fucking litmus test.

Posted by Kiru Banzai | September 6, 2007 5:25 PM

Am I the only one who things the Stranger is being extremely ungracious? If he had stuck by his views, he was a bigot, if not he was a "flip-flopper." That sounds like an inquisition, not an interview.

His change of heart vis-a-vis gay marriage is not so difficult to believe. It is consistent with the nationwide trend in which Americans are becoming more and more accepting of homosexuality.

Posted by NJ Matt | September 6, 2007 5:44 PM

Sounds like a opportunist to me. When it was all cool and sexy to be a values voter he was. Now that its not, hes not. At least Della is devil we know.

Posted by Giffy | September 6, 2007 5:46 PM

Wish I could have been at your meeting. I plan on discussing these issues with Burgess myself as I was close to endorsing him. I will say this about Tim - he seems to be an honest man with integrity, is wise, hard working, intelligent, and solid. Probably a great father.

That said, he is a member of a church which I consider a breakaway right wing cult. I can say this because I was brought up in a church in the same Presbyterian denomination, studied it's theology for the first 18 years of my life and beyond, and came close to going to it's Covenant Theological seminary to become a minister in the church. My father was an elder there as well.

The Presbyterian Church of America basically broke from the main Presbyterian churches because it considered the main body too liberal - liberal because it was against the Vietnam War, supported the Civil Rights movement, supported equality for women and the ERA, and allowed women to be ministers. I was baptized in the larger, more liberal Presbyterian Church - John Knox Pres in Normandy Park, but soon after we broke away to join a Reformed Pres denomination that later joined the PCA.

Growing up in he PCA, we were taught lots of values - Racist (no inter-racial marriage), Sexist (women are the 'weaker vessel', no female should hold church office over a male, anti-choice, etc), and homophobic values. The PCA is an Evangelical, fundamentalist church. 5 point Calvinist, supporter of Evangelical programs like Promise Keepers, they believe in and actively support Creationism taught in schools, etc, etc, etc. It teaches that all non born again Christians are evil and hell bound. It teaches the Bible is the inspired actual, perfect, word of god, is historically and factually accurate in all areas, etc. (Like when it says women are the weaker vessel, a man laying down with a man is evil, and god created the earth in 7 days).

I am surprised to hear Burgess is a member of this right wing church. I knew no members (save my awesome grandmother) who would ever consider or even associate with Democrats let alone 'progressives'.

When I was in high school, (Seattle Christian of course), one of my theological heroes was Francis Schaeffer, founder of the L'Abri community in Switzerland and member of and prominent leader in the Presbyterian Church in America. Schaeffer was very influential on getting the Evangelical Right active in politics in the 70's and 80's. His film "Whatever Happened to the Human Race?" was seen and studied by every PCA member I knew. He was especially active in the 'Anti-Abortion/ Pro-Life" movement. His teachings moved activists towards justifying actions like clinic bombings. Operation Rescue was in many ways very influenced by Schaeffer and actively funded by and supported by members of the PCA.

I find it extremely difficult to believe that anyone coming out of a fundamentalist PCA church would call themselves progressive. I can see them being an environmentalist, I can see them supporting the music community on the basis of supporting business. I can't see them leading on important social issues. I can't see them agreeing with most of Seattle on issues like strip clubs, loosening liquor laws, etc.

I would love to hear Tim explain how his church feels about him supporting same sex marriage, equal rights for women at home and in the workplace and how this meshes with the theology of women submitting to their husbands as the church should submit to Jesus. Etc, etc. I am sure Tim and I will meet and discuss these things. I don't think it's impossible for a fundy Christian to be a good, solid, though misled on some issues (and who isn't), person. I do find it hard to believe one can be a 'leader' on progressive issues, and find it hard to see how someone who would be a member of a group which supports crazy right wing groups like Operation Rescue, etc, could also be linked to progressives.

This is a great story. I hope this can be a public, deep, conversation. Tim is correct that the left does need to be able to talk and associate with people of faith. But we also shouldn't elect people in Seattle who aren't truly progressive. We need strong leaders who will push the envelope and be out in front on important issues of our time, not ones who are just learning what they are.

Posted by Meinert | September 6, 2007 5:51 PM

I gotta say I'm kinda with #7 here. I understand the skepticism because I'd be lying if I said I wasn't myself. I want to say it's going to be the lesser of two evils but he really doesn't sound all that evil to me. He sounds like what I wish more Christians would sound like. At least the ones who make their voices heard.

I'll vote for him and see what happens. I hope that's not a mistake.

Posted by monkey | September 6, 2007 5:52 PM

Meinert: I think I may have been mistaken about Burgess's church--he told me he belonged was the more mainline one. So I may have gotten the PCA and PCUSA mixed up in my notes--I've taken down the specific denomination from my post until I can double-check. Sorry for the confusion.

Posted by ECB | September 6, 2007 6:00 PM

Meinert, I went to the same church when I was a kid. I haven't been in years, because, well, I am no longer a Christian. But hey, small world.

Posted by Giffy | September 6, 2007 6:00 PM

ECB, I think you should start calling Della every day and see how many days it takes for him to call you back and keep us posted. The few times I've written to the Seattle City Council on issues, I've gotten a response from all the Councilmembers BUT Della. I just don't understand why he doesn't understand it is part of his (or his staff's) job to respond to constituents. Della doesn't have to agree with me, but it would be nice if he would at least acknowledge that I took the time to write.

I think Burgess' response, although not perfect, is OK. One sign of a good leader is someone, upon getting new pertinent information, is willing to change their mind and admit they made a mistake.

Posted by Alcina | September 6, 2007 6:01 PM

Thanks Meinert, I was going to comment with much of the same information about the PCA. I grew up PC(USA) and even there, in a denomination not exactly known for its liberal politics, the PCA was seen as unreasonably conservative. (The denomination still harbors many churches who do not ordain women, for instance.)

And I second Meinert's call for a "public, deep conversation" -- this has the potential to reach across a lot of specific issues and yet at the same time be revealing on a deeper level about the nature of politics, business, and religion in our country. Since it's highly unlikely Burgess would sit down with unaffiliated ME to talk about this stuff, please keep on the story and publish what you can.

Posted by Katelyn | September 6, 2007 6:03 PM

Woah. ECB, which one is it?

Posted by Katelyn | September 6, 2007 6:10 PM

Wellll, dammit! ECB - that is a HUGE mistake. And a waste of my typing. I am looking into it too, and from what I am finding Burgess is a member of Bethany Presbyterian, part of the relatively more liberal PC(USA). So for now I take it all back. If he is indeed a member of the PC(USA) then my post is largely, though not completely (but almost), irrelevant. Sorry Tim.

The PCUSA I believe allows women ministers and is currently debating issues of homosexual marriage, ordination of homosexual ministers, etc. Not quite where they could be, but leagues ahead of the dreaded PCA

Posted by meinert | September 6, 2007 6:11 PM

He sounds retarded.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 6, 2007 6:12 PM

PS - It must also be said, that Burgess is against the nightclub license, which Della was for, then against, and now seems to be supporting again. Tim is very supportive, at least in my direct conversations with him, of the goals of the music community.

And I stand by my first paragraph about Tim's better qualities.

That all said, being the marketing director for the CWA is akin to doing the same for the German Nationalist Socialist Party in the early 1920's. It's no small deal to work for and support a hate group like the CWA.

Posted by Meinert | September 6, 2007 6:19 PM

good post. though, i am inclined to believe that burgess met with yall cuz he is in deep shit and not for some principled reason. he is facing an incumbent and his race was picking up and when this came up he stood to lose shit load of votes. thats why im sure his campaign manager said, its damage control time.

the bottom line is that he as the head of that agency sat in a conference room with these people and made his services available, he sat down with them and talked about their message, and how his firm can help them make that message clear and understandable. if u sit down with these people and you hear their hateful language and u come up with ways to make that language digestible, than you my friend are a scumbucket. he sat with them and talked strategy. i am sure he didnt say, " yall know what, yall's message is a wee extreme for us." instead he helped them make their message accesible to millions of idiots and bigots. if the minutemen had come knocking asking for help in their outreach than i am sure he would have sat with them. i dont need that guy.

as far as david, well, i am not surprised he wont sit with u. u have nailed him on numerous ocassions and he deserved it. he has been absolutely useless and it makes me gag to watch him try to paint himself as someone with roots in the activist and progressive community when he has turned his back and has been to the right of most issues and has refused to take leadership roles on everything.

i dont think that he is the only one that wont talk to ya. i dont think rich mcgiver cares too much about you guys.

Posted by SeMe | September 6, 2007 6:19 PM

Sounds like a real good bullshitter to me. Must be a politician. I'll take the ineffectual Della again this time over the unknown quantity that is Burgess. Stealth candidate- tells us what we want to hear, like the Mayor when he first ran- looks like we could get hoodwinked by this guy.
I'll wait for someone a little less shady to take out Della next time. Burgess ran a P.R. agency!! Duh.

Posted by BS Detector Inspector | September 6, 2007 6:26 PM

Can't we get a committed atheist on the city council? If this guy is willing to stand up for values based upon a bronze age myth, can't we get someone who is willing to call bullshit on stuff like this?

Posted by Tiffany | September 6, 2007 6:29 PM

Yes, the PC(USA) has ordained women to full and equal positions since the 1970s. The denomination is quite far away from affirming gay marriage, but may be on the verge of affirming gay ordination. If you want the official position, though, the requirement for ordination is "chastity in singleness and fidelity in marriage between one man and one woman."

Posted by Katelyn | September 6, 2007 6:29 PM

OMG! Tim Burgess is Jane Hague in drag!

Everyone else has picked the wrong issues, said the wrong things, mistaken my nuances or otherwise messed up -- not me!

I'm surprised he didn't say that it was all a clever long-term plot to get the right wing to fund a political race of a "true progressive."

Yeah sure, Tim. Mistakes were made.

By the way-- how many of you out there have had the opportunity to make tons of money over many years by advancing (and essentially fundraising for) rightwing hate groups, and have said, "Yes, I'll do it."?

Didn't think so.

Posted by Lesley | September 6, 2007 6:33 PM

Tiffany - you mean an atheist like Karl Rove?

Being an atheist is no guarantee of being progressive, that's for sure.

Posted by Meinert | September 6, 2007 6:38 PM

I will not be voting for Tim Burgess.

The fact that it took him *running for office* to reach out to the LGBT community really shows his lack of character. Did he think to consult with the LGBT community before he took the CWA as a client? No.

I understand that consultants don't always agree or believe in their clients. However, this is above and beyond and he couldn't see that, I'm afraid I don't trust his judgement.

Also, please keep in mind that the Concerned Women for America anti-gay, anti-woman, but also anti-education, and anti-religious freedom. According to their website, the "CWA affirms the Bible's unmistakable standard that there is right and wrong; that God is the Authority who established right and wrong."

This is a universal hate group that Burgess profited by convincing himself that it was a business decision. I've met tobacco executives with more integrity than that.

I will hold my nose and vote for Della. He's has serious drawbacks, but he is indeed "the devil we know."

Posted by me | September 6, 2007 6:40 PM

-While I have been disapointed with some of Della's policy positions he has never wavered on his support of GLBT rights.
-I'm really against Tim's stance for the four foot rule.
-I'm worried about future civil liberty votes that might be close like 5-4 or 6-3 and having Tim on the Council.
-I think I have to vote for Della this year.

Posted by It makes me think | September 6, 2007 6:40 PM

Blood Money, NO way.

Posted by kelper | September 6, 2007 6:46 PM

Didn't Della also vote for the 4 Foot Rule?

Posted by Meinert | September 6, 2007 6:51 PM

I can't dismiss what he said and did in 2004 unless there was some clearer evidence that he's abandoned those views. Where has he walked the walk? Can he name one example of his demonstrating an active commitment to a progressive agenda in this time? One?

Posted by tsm | September 6, 2007 7:07 PM

Kudos, Erica. You've done an excellent job of getting a serious debate going.

Y'all should record your endorsement meeting debate for this position and put it on the web. Seriously.

Posted by Biff | September 6, 2007 7:20 PM

You know, you could just go look up Bethany Presbyterian's website and see the PC(USA) logo right on the front page, Erica.

Of course, if you were a member of said church, you might have had one question you wanted someone to ask him, one that no one has asked him at all.

Posted by dw | September 6, 2007 7:25 PM

I'm not sure I give a shit what Burgess's positions are on gay marriage and abortion, because as strongly as I feel about those, they're not the kind of issues that ever come up before the City Council. And if they did, one anti-gay vote (which I doubt Burgess would be) would only mean winning 8-1 instead of 9-0. It's far more important how he feels about pressing and germane matters like transportation and density, which this post and this week's Stranger article sadly neglect. I hope that is what the Stranger Election Control Board considers when trying to decide who to endorse this fall, not red herring "moral" issues that have nothing to do with the regular business of the Seattle City Council.

Posted by lorax | September 6, 2007 7:37 PM

Reagrding the PCUSA and gay ordination,it is now up to the Prebyteries (regional group of churches) and a pastor can perfom gay civil unions in the church. And they have been ordaining women longer then the '70's not by much but still longer.

Posted by Chris | September 6, 2007 7:53 PM

Burgess's church is indeed PC(USA), definitely not PCA, and he seems to not be a fundy at all.

Also, according to Burgess he has supported same sex unions forever (that's a long time), but just came around to supporting same sex marriage, which is true of a lot of people, and puts him ahead of folks like the Clintons and even John Edwards.

That said, CWA - ewww. But we all make some mistakes. Being wrong in the past shouldn't make someone inelligable for office.

I am still need to hear more from Tim about the CWA thing, but we definitely need some better folks on the council, and he seems to be one of the few people running who is intelligent, wise, active, has some business sense, etc, etc. And I think he might actually be someone who can get something done. Now, THAT would be a good trick in Seattle.

Posted by Meinert | September 6, 2007 8:07 PM

great post, great comments.

my sources at the city confirm that Della is not only ill-equipped for a counsel position, but that he's lazy to boot, not having read staff reports before committee meetings, etc.

Isn't there one obvious solution?

Draft McGinn.

Posted by rtm | September 6, 2007 8:19 PM

Well, I was hoping The Stranger's half-cocked overreaction to this wouldn't amount to much, and it looks like it hasn't.

Just imagine how much less unprofessional you would have looked if you had given this story a little more time. With just a little care and thought you could have done both Tim Burgess and the voters some kind of service. Instead there's nothing to see here but a candidate having to kiss the ring of a publication that can't get the basic facts right until the third try.

Posted by elenchos | September 6, 2007 8:20 PM
However, he acknowledges that he would not push his own pastor to perform gay weddings or lobby the leaders of his own denomination to allow them.

Why should he? Same-sex marriage in the church is irrelevant in this conversation; the separation of church and state means that churches can refuse to acknowledge or perform marriages for whoever they want. It's relevant to the voters what he wants the state to do about the issue - not whether he'll hassle his pastor.

As for the calls for him to have 'walked the walk' or show he's 'reached out' to the GLBT community prior to running - who cares? Why should he have done these things? I support equality, marriage and otherwise, but I don't plan to 'reach out' to a community just in case I decide to run for office. He has to make his case now. If he'd spent the last year suddenly doing things for the GLBT community, of which he is not a member, would you not see this as pandering?

I don't know if he's passed the burden of proof that his views are what he now says they are, but some of the things folks have called for in this thread seem to be designed to prevent him from showing that he means what he says.

Posted by switzerblog | September 6, 2007 8:25 PM

Yeah, sorry Chris @33, you're right -- the first woman ordained as PC(USA) minister of Word and Sacrament (not just deacons, for instance) was in 1956. It was in the 70s that more than a trickle of women were ordained, mostly because that's when the larger seminaries began to accept women.

Bethany PC's a great church, a relatively *healthy* church. It's a credit to Burgess that he's a member there.

As far as if any of this matters (separation of church and state, etc. etc.): it DOES matter where the guy's coming from, especially if he's been marketing himself as a values voter.

Posted by Katelyn | September 6, 2007 8:35 PM

Interesting report, however there is still is a continued paucity of information related to this candidate's (and almost every other candidate's)views and experience dealing with land use issues and multi-billion dollar
civic budgets. These are not particularly interesting topics, but let's face the realities of the job...about 85% of a councilmember's time is occupied with these two items.

Unfortunately, I and many others in this city continue to be uninformed
about the qualifications and abilities of this and other candidates to
contribute expertise and intelligent debate regarding the two main
components of the job.

We have no way to determine the
acceptability of any of the current
candidates, and as a consequence, I believe the city government may continue to be unable to address
current and future issues.

--- Jensen

Posted by Jensen Interceptor | September 6, 2007 9:01 PM

I'm gay, and a long time progressive libtard democrat. Still, if you'd have asked me 10 years ago, maybe even 5, if I ever thought two gay people would be allowed to marry in this country, I'd have guessed it wouldn't happen in my lifetime. This was before Massachusetts legalized it, and San Francisco, Portland, and other cities tried marrying gays on their own. Before Canada legalized it. NOW many of us are hoping that gay marriage will happen. NOW we expect it and demand it. But only a few years ago it seemed a pipe dream, a fantasy.

So if he's been for civil unions for a long time, and he's just recently been educated and has come around on gay marriage, well, that's okay with me(assuming he's sincere about all this). I've had close personal friends ask me why it mattered whether or not I could actually marry my boyfriend. Not because their conservative assholes, but because they sincerely didn't know why it mattered. Once I explained, they were totally on board with the idea.

If he has come around from a "no" to a "yes" on gay marriage, that's great. One more for our side. Isn't that what we are trying to convince the general population to do?

Posted by SDA in SEA | September 6, 2007 9:08 PM

I have to agree with Jensen.

So far, all I know about this election is that Hague is a raving drunk, Della is a lazy, lying bastard, and Burgess is off Dan Savage's Christmas card list. Oh, and there's some woman named Venus running for the council.

That's it.

I think Dan, Josh, and Erica should cut the crap already. Help me decide who the hell I'm going to vote for. Tell me what they offer. I don't give a crap about Della calling some monorail guy asking for money. It's like that celebrity gossip pap that passes for news.

Here's one question I have: Do any of them have a plan or even an opinion on the condo conversion crisis? Can you tell me? Or were you too busy combing through Burgess' Rolodex to actually ASK him?

Maybe I should just call David Brewster. At the folks at Crosscut are trying to be real reporters, not a bunch of Rona Barrett political wannabes like the Stranger is turning into.

Posted by dw | September 6, 2007 9:26 PM

To keep this fair, can someone tell us what church Della attends or if he attends one at all.

Posted by Alcina | September 6, 2007 9:29 PM

Honestly to me the concern is not over single issues, but over the fact that Burgess seems identified as a values voter and wanted public policy to follow the teachings of his religion. I'm sorry but no, and I feel no compultion ot treat your religion with respect. It sure as hell does not treat me with respect. I've read the damn book and its choke full of invectives against probably 95% of the people of this city.

I could care less what the religion of a candidate is, until they make that part of their public policy persona. Once that happens my desire to support them plummets. I've out grown it, and most of the people of this city have to. Base your policy positions on things that are real and then I'll listen.

Posted by Giffy | September 6, 2007 9:48 PM

Doesn't Christian Sinderman represent Burgess?

Did Sinderman know about Burgess' background?

Posted by 17th and James | September 6, 2007 10:01 PM

Hey Erica- As I read the slog and glance at the top of the page, I see Amateur Night @ the Deja Vu flashing before my eyes. Does the Stranger condone exploitation of women for the gratification of sleezed men or is this just another business decision? What a bunch of fucking hypocrites @ this rag.

Posted by steveo | September 6, 2007 10:12 PM

The story here is indeed exploitation, but not the exploitation of women - the Stranger, and especially its editor, went off half-cocked on the basis of opposition research dredged up and fed to the paper by Della consultant Michael Grossman, without first interviewing the subject of the story in depth. Grade in Journalism 101: F-.

Posted by Roger | September 6, 2007 10:33 PM

Eliza Doolittle/MFL: "Words, words, words, I'm so sick of words." Maybe it only seemed like 2000 - I count 1193. But they're good words. Your words. Running for Seattle City Council sounds tantamount to running the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Only twice as Byzantine and half as interesting. Prithee, when will the wearing of ruches be commanded?

Posted by KY. COL. of TRUTH | September 6, 2007 10:50 PM

Sure, Della supported the 4-foot rule. But, Burgess was the only person to speak out publicly for the issue; he wrote an op-ed during the election. Della was largely quiet.

Also, Burgess made a name for himself in Seattle Politics on the ethics and elections board, and as I understand it, he was the driving force behind Strippergate. So, this is a vendetta that he's held on to for a long time.

Meinert, given his stances toward Adult Entertainment, I wouldn't be so sure about his stance toward Night Clubs. Again, his track record shows that he's very conservative relative to Seattle standards.

Had he voted for Kerry, I have no doubt that he'd be shouting that everywhere. While I can't prove it, I conclude, weighing the evidence, that he voted for Bush. Period. In 2004. After the fiasco of the War was well understood. He wrote that op-ed, chastizing dems for the way they approached him; but where was his concern for the fiasco that is the Bush administration? All the blame for the Bush administration can be laid at the feed of those who voted for Bush: and I count Burgess in that crowd.

The Devil we Know...I'm voting Della.

Posted by Timothy | September 6, 2007 10:52 PM

Lets recap--

--Tim's firm profited handsomely from CWA for many years.
--Tim's firm specifically marketed themselves to conservative evangelical groups.
--Tim has given money to Republicans in the past including the very conservative Rob McKenna as recently as 2004.
--Tim won't answer whether he voted for Kerry or Bush on some vague moral reason although he shared his vote on other issues with no problem. Which means he probably voted for Bush and doesn't want to lie about it. Give him a point for some sort of honesty and subtract 50 points for supporting right-wing hypocrites like Bush and McKenna.
--Tim set himself up as a public scold in both his 2005 op-ed on values and in his term at Seattle Ethics and Elections. Now he wants us to give him a pass on his personal ethics?

Too much for me even if Della is a viaduct-loving, ineffective councilmember.

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it is probably a fucking duck.

Tim is asking us to believe too much.

Posted by tiptoe tommy | September 6, 2007 11:49 PM

My name is John McWhinney, not James. I contacted Erica Barnett about my experience with Tim Burgess, telling her that I'd rather talk to a journalist than a sex columnist. No one at the Stranger has contacted me. It's absolutely bizarre.

Posted by JAM | September 7, 2007 12:06 AM

Moron vs. moron. Vote for Armageddon.

Posted by Grant Cogswell | September 7, 2007 12:37 AM

@51 - but Grant, we can't vote for Armegeddon, they have both the ST2 and RTID votes combined as a single vote ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 7, 2007 12:46 AM

On June 1. 1981, Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, Filipino American labor activists working for reforms to benefit union cannery workers, were gunned down near Pioneer Square. Both men were active in the protest movement against dictator Ferdinand Marcos who then controlled the Philippines; their locally-hired killers were later convicted. A third rabblerouser was supposed to meet up with Domingo and Viernes but was stuck in traffic: a guy named David Della.

Thatís what David Della was doing at age 26. Sure, heís softened up in moving from union organizer to mayoral (Norm Rice) aide to non-profit exec to City Councilmember. Yes, he needs to improve his performance in returning phone calls from reporters (and constituents). And whatís up with that Viaduct love? But heís worked hard as parks chair, showing a willingness to compromise and balance interests, and sparring with the Mayor for control of the parks system along the way. Some of his critics are just plain ignorant. He gets blamed for the Zoo garage, which the Pre-Della Council agreed to build when it approved the December 2001 contract giving the Zoo Society control over operations. Lame duck Judy Nicastro was the only "no" voteóso the Zoo garage isnít David Dellaís fault, Heidi Wills must take the blame!

Tim Burgess writes newspaper columns about hiring a bunch more cops and making Seattle a great place to raise kids again. Until a few years ago, his job was doing public relations and marketing for a powerful well-funded national organization of Christian bigots who work at whipping up hate against gay people. Tim explains that he doesnít really hate gay people, it was just his job to encourage others to really hate gay people.

Who am I voting for? Give me a fucking break. Iím betting on David Della picking up his game in his second term and, frankly, when a pro-lifer or an anti-gay asshole is on the ballot, I donít even see his name. Isnít Della running unopposed?

Posted by J,R, | September 7, 2007 3:00 AM

What a piece of shit. I am sick to death of these Christian wannabes or whatever the hell they are always bring faith into the debate. This goes for the fundies and the wish-washy freaks like Burgess.

I honestly do not give a shit if their faith in a make believe guy in the sky informs the decision making process, wiat, that actually scares me on every level. If he has to turn to "God" for guidance then hell, he may as well say he is going to leave a note for the toothfairy or the easter bunny.


Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | September 7, 2007 4:12 AM

Business people (i.e. capitalists) routinely compartmentalize there business decisions from their personal beliefs. When I used to work at a lesbian run video production house in SF, people would joke "where does the general manager draw the line at taking jobs? When they can't pay their bills." This attitude has been repudiated by progressive movements, a notable example being, divestment from south africa during apartied. One aspect of that success was the Sullivan principles which essentially worked to convert businesses to the anti apartied movement, rather than just boycott them. However even these principles were not enough. Other strategic actions were required. While Burgess claims to have had an evolution in his thinking, and recused himself from the work, he did not divest from the profits. He wasn't starving, he could have used his moral persuasion on all his employees not to take the work even if his co-whatever wanted the money(or actually agreed with the propaganda).

From the outside as presented in these pages, it would seem that Burgess has had a rather late evolution in thinking. While it may be genuine, there is no requirement that he be rewarded for his evolution. Public service is a privelege, and it is fair to use judgment about who should serve, based on previous behavior. As an outsider (I reside in NYC), it seems the issue comes down to a combination of "who will do the best job?" and, basically, "who do you like?" Would you be able to go talk with this person in a reasonable manner and feel it was a productive meeting? Would there be follow up? Would they be competent? It doesn't matter how good someone's core beliefs are, if they are not competent. Would this person's core beliefs influence their decisions in a way that you would find objectionable? It is good for the progressive movement to welcome converts and work with them. Maybe, in the longterm, fostering such alliances will help. However one need not elect someone to welcome them to the party.

Posted by MSW | September 7, 2007 4:31 AM

@ 53 - great post. I cannot believe the city is even considering Burgess for elected office. Equally I cannot believe a few non-conservatives here actually support him because he does not vote on those social issues at the city level. That is so distubing I am at a loss for words...

Posted by Touring | September 7, 2007 6:12 AM

So honestly, does anyone have a write-in nomination? Could that even work?

Posted by kid icarus | September 7, 2007 8:34 AM

#49: You are right on. There are far too many coincidences here.

Plus, Mr. Burgess comes off to me as a self-rightegous twit.

And I am strong believer in a separation between church and state and Mr. Burgess seems to feel that the state needs to be influenced more by Christian values. Even if he's talking about old-fashioned Christian values like charity and loving one's neighbor, I feel religion should be separate from the government in most cases.

Posted by please | September 7, 2007 8:44 AM

Let's see here:
- voted for Bush in 2004
- worked as propagandist for right wing hate group
- has a vendetta against strip clubs
- wrote op-ed identifying himself as a religious "values" voter

The LAST thing Seattle needs is a guy like this on the city council. Please, Seattle, don't put this asshole in office.

Posted by Sean | September 7, 2007 9:00 AM

#53, I worked for the company owned by Tim Burgess, and considering I'm a big old queen, I don't see how that makes me "part of an organization of Christian bigots" (your words).

I came out while working at the company, and I received unqualified support from Tim Burgess and an open forum for my views, which he supported.

Read yesterday's post by The Stranger: Senior News Writer Erica Barnett wrote , "I believe that Burgessís contrition is sincere, that he supports abortion rights and gay marriage, and that he has, as he told us yesterday, 'evolved and learned from my experiences in life.'"

Tell me, how can you know better unless you've talked to Tim Burgess yourself?

We learn from you that David Della "needs to improve his record in returning phone calls from reporters" (your words). Yet according to Ms. Barnett, Mr. Della "has not returned a single call from anyone at the Stranger since I wrote a mildly critical story about him after he defeated Heidi Wills four years ago."

Della's got some way to go to improve his record. Yet, two days ago, under fire, Tim Burgess attended an interview with two writers and The Stranger's editor.

Which is more likely to listen to people?

Posted by JAM | September 7, 2007 9:01 AM

JAM - your boss paid you with blood money.

Posted by Barry | September 7, 2007 9:13 AM

On an amusing note Burgess apparently gave money to David Della.

And our good friend Mark Sidran

Posted by Giffy | September 7, 2007 9:18 AM

Crosscut is alright, but as far as I can tell, it was The Stranger that broke the story on Burgess's CWA work, his 2004 op-ed column, and his evasiveness about his vote in 2004. Yes, it's fun to trash The Stranger for being a tabloid full of immature hacks (and sometimes they certainly act that way), but this is great investigative journalism, plain and simple.

There's no way Brewster et al would have asked Burgess these tough questions. That wouldn't fit with the polite, conservative-friendly image they are shooting for (e.g., with regular columns by Republican party operative Chris Vance).

Posted by Sean | September 7, 2007 9:22 AM

Where does Burgess stand on the viaduct?

Posted by Brendan | September 7, 2007 9:40 AM

@53 Why don't you really let the world know that you're Michael Grossman. I supported Della 4 years ago and he has been horrible. This year my vote goes to Burgess. I have sat down and talked to him several times and he is the real deal. Della just wants to run for higher city office some day.

All you people criticizing Burgess for past views remember that you are doing exactly what you don't want the bullshit Conservatives to do to you.

Posted by Willis Reid lives! | September 7, 2007 9:43 AM

Willis, he has betrayed your trust.

Plenty of time to change Della's career in the next round.

Burgess is toast, he will have to get a job with his buds at the old timers cop shop.

Politics is grounded in the real world. Burgess REALLY was an ace operative for the far right for years and years, and took in millions of tainted right wing bucks.

No shit. He betrayed your trust. Simple for me, and no, I have nothing to do with the Della campaign.

But will send him 20 bucks next week at payday, and get a window sign... all before voting for Mr. Della via absentee.

Posted by lee ann wong | September 7, 2007 10:02 AM


Investigative journalism? You can't break a story on an op-ed piece.

They're lazy. I contacted them. They didn't follow up. They quoted me and got my name wrong.

Talk about former right-wingers. Dan Savage attended a well-heeled Catholic seminary for young men considering priesthood.

Later he became the delightfully raunchy and self-styled "gay version of Ann Landers." Yet, now as editor of The Stranger, he can be trusted to get things right.

Why? Because even in a few years, people can change their views.

Posted by JAM | September 7, 2007 10:34 AM

burgess was right about one thing in 2004 that still rings true today -- too many democrats simply dismiss people of faith for that reason alone. it doesn't matter if they are pro-choice, pro-marriage, pro-heathcare. nope. the attitude is, if they believe then they must be voting based on religion.

if you learn to to reach the middle with your message you will improve your chances of getting things done. check this out: i believe in the sanctity of marriage, and i support equal rights for same-sex marriages.

Posted by infrequent | September 7, 2007 10:52 AM

to inf - above

Check this out - I believe in the value and "sanctity" of marriage - that is why I want to marry my girlfriend.

And for the all the very right moral reasons - she is the love of my life, and I adore and cherish her.

Be glad to explain it all to Jesus if he was around.

Posted by lee ann wong | September 7, 2007 11:00 AM

We're upset that this thread is stuck on 69 and want to move it ahead to a more family-friendly number.

--Concerned Women for America

Posted by J.R. | September 7, 2007 1:52 PM

Thank you, sister. "The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." Psalm 90:10

Posted by JAM | September 8, 2007 2:38 AM

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