Tag Archives: Dow Constantine

King County Council’s Budget Priorities May Not Be Your Priorities

Unless, of course, you have a natural affinity for gravel pits.

Let me backtrack. King County, facing a $60 million budget shortfall for 2011, announced recently that it would be cutting 300 jobs…including 28 sheriff’s deputies. Even though that’s a small percentage of the jobs to be cut, Budget Chairwoman Julia Patterson says it will have an impact on public safety.

Enter the gravel pit.

King County officials and environmental leaders expressed confidence Wednesday they can raise $19.1 million in private and county dollars over the next seven weeks to turn a Maury Island gravel mine into a milelong shoreline park for kayakers, hikers and wildlife.

The Maury Island project appears to be high on King County Executive Dow Constantine’s list of priorities. This won’t be the first time he’s show a willingness to sacrifice public safety for a pet project.

You’d think the County Council would be at least a little bit embarrassed to announce their boondoggle sand and gravel pit purchase and some of the grimmer details of the budget within days of each other but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Apparently it didn’t occur to anyone on the Council or in the Executive’s office that County residents might be disturbed at the layoff of so many deputies while the $17 million purchase was announced with so much fanfare.

This situation appears to be a perfect illustration of why voters are becoming increasingly hostile to tax increases and wary of what their elected officials are telling them.

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No Boundaries

Two troubling stories have surfaced in the last two days with regard to Dow Constantine and the race for King County Executive. On the surface, the stories appear to be unrelated, but there is a common thread.

The first story involves a case of possible inappropriate behavior towards a female employee of King County. Mark Griswold posted an update on this story today at Sound Politics that included an additional excerpt from one of the court documents. While the new information makes it clear that a formal complaint was never filed, the fact remains that someone or something in the work environment of this employee made her uncomfortable enough that she was motivated to discuss it with her supervisor. Since the Times request for records specified documents “alleging inappropriate comments or behavior by County Councilmember Dow Constantine,” we can be certain that “someone” was Dow Constantine.

The second story involves the blatantly  improper use of TVW footage in a Dow Constantine campaign ad. Greg Lane, President and CEO at TVW, released a statement Thursday.

The Dow Constantine campaign is currently broadcasting a political ad that blatantly misuses TVW programming.

snip…

Yesterday, I spoke directly to representatives of the Constantine campaign, requesting that the offending ad be pulled from the air immediately. This morning, the campaign’s lawyers responded that the Constantine campaign is refusing to abide by our request. We are disappointed with their response, which completely ignores the public interest and the tradition of respect maintained for TVW’s unique role.

snip…

By refusing to pull the offending ad, the Dow Constantine campaign is showing complete disregard for the greater public interest role TVW plays in providing citizens unbiased and unedited access to the public policy process.

Why has Constantine’s campaign refused to pull the ads? Because they’ve decided that they probably know better than TVW how the footage should be used.

So what’s the common thread here?

It appears that Dow Constantine doesn’t recognize boundaries or if he does, he doesn’t acknowledge them as applying to him personally. You know people like this; they’re always standing just a little too close or leaving their hand on your shoulder just a little too long. They don’t understand that behavior that might be appropriate in a social setting is not appropriate in the workplace. They’re people who help themselves to things off your desk when you’re not there or ask to borrow things with values out of proportion to your relationship.

You can ask people like this to leave your desk alone when you’re not there and they very well may, but that won’t stop them from helping themselves to one of the sodas you left in the refrigerator. With no internal boundaries, everything is fair game. Is that really who we need heading King County?

Getting back to TVW. It is a non-profit corporation, not operated by the government, with the majority of their operating budget coming from contracts with the State of Washington. I’m not sure what other people might think but in my mind, that makes it close enough to being government funded that using their footage in a political campaign seems off limits.

No boundaries.

Update 1: Here’s some more on Constantine’s unethical use of TVW footage from Bruce Ramsey at the Seattle Times and  P. Scott Cummins. This is a disturbing trend on the part of Washington Democrats who make it increasingly clear that rules should never stand in the way of them getting what they want.

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Seattle Times Files Legal Challenge

Bryan Myrick at Red County just broke this news:

…[T]he Seattle Times has filed a motion with King County Superior Court in challenge to the restraining order placed Wednesday on documents pursuant to a public records request by Keith Ervin of The Seattle Times in mid-October. Ervin’s request was for all documents that contained information about allegations made against current councilman and candidate for King County executive Dow Constantine of inappropriate behavior. Shortly after an undetermined number of documents was handed over by county officials to Ervin, a temporary restraining order was filed on behalf of a “Jane Doe” presumed to be named in certain papers. (Read our previous stories here and here.)

Kudos to the Seattle Times for pursuing this story. Now Mr. Constantine can rest comfortably in the knowledge that there are no obstacles to the facts of the matter being made public. Heh.

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Is Dow Constantine Having a “David Letterman” Moment?

Okay, wow. When I called Dow Constantine a smarmy politician I was just referring to his apparent level of comfort with lying about Council colleague Kathy Lambert. It appears there’s so much more. Allegations have surfaced that Constantine has been accused of sexually harassing a County employee, as Mark Griswold writes about at Sound Politics.

Rumors of Dow Constantine’s inappropriate behavior have been swirling around the political cocktail circuit since his days in Olympia but until now they haven’t gotten much traction. Fair enough. As Baz Lurhmann says, “politicians will always philander.”

But now it seems that Constantine’s work place advances may be catching up with him.

I, along with Keith Ervin of The Seattle Times, was recently tipped off about a story involving a county employee and some of this inappropriate behavior. When Mr. Ervin filed a public records request all he was given was a restraining order between Ms. Jane Doe and King County, mentioning she feared for her job security should the information contained within documents related to the public records request be released.

So Keith Ervin filed a public records request with King County and got a copy of a restraining order for his trouble. That in itself seems like a story to me but not to Ervin, who suffers from what would seem to be a career-killing lack of curiosity for a reporter. Ervin is the same reporter who apparently didn’t find it particularly disturbing that Constantine’s campaign treasurer is also the treasurer for Citizens to Uphold the Constitution, a “non-partisan” group that funded robo-calls against Susan Hutchison.

I wonder how Jane Doe knew about Ervin’s request in time to file this restraining order. Would it be standard practice to notify all interested parties when a records request is received? If not, how did Jane Doe know about the request? Does she really fear the loss of her job if this information is made public? If so, what does that say about the employment environment at King County? Is she cooperating in protecting Constantine? If so, why? Was she pressured into doing so?

So many questions but one thing seems clear: if there were no truth to the allegation about a sexual harassment complaint, Ervin’s request would not have resulted in a restraining order being filed. And how convenient that the order will be in effect until after the ballot deadline.

Update 1: Speaking on the Kirby Wilbur Show, Mark Griswold states that the attorney who filed the restraining order, Tyler Firkins, has a track record of filing restraining orders on “behalf” of plaintiffs without their knowledge. So a new question arises: Who hired Firkins? Was it Jane Doe? A union interested in Constantine becoming King County Executive? Firkins’ old law school chum, Dow Constantine?

Update 2: The Seattle Times felt that the information contained in private documents relating to Susan Hutchison and KIRO TV was so vital, they sued to have them released, but apparently the public information concerning a possible sexual harassment claim against Dow Constantine is, you know, not that big of a deal. Yawn.

Update 3: Rumor has it that the Seattle Times did in fact receive numerous documents in response to Keith Ervin’s request prior to the restraining order being filed, but that Ervin is sitting on the story.

More on this story from Bryan Myrick at Red County.

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Smarmy Politician, Lying Loser Or Both?

Smarmy politician? Lying loser?

Smarmy politician? Lying loser?

The Seattle Times hosted an online Q&A session yesterday with King County Executive candidate, Dow Constantine. I’ll admit that the question I most wanted to ask was, “Why are you such a smarmy jerk,” but the site cautioned that personal attacks weren’t allowed. Today’s news (here, here and here), however, raises the question again.

Why smarmy? How else do you describe someone who’s willing to cover his own sorry rear end by lying about a colleague? How else do you describe someone who’s willing to risk lives and property for the sake of a ferry district that serves primarily his own constituents? I mean, what’s it to him? His district isn’t in much danger of flooding.

More importantly, does a guy who’s willing to strong arm his colleagues on the King County Council  over a questionable issue such as the Vashon Island foot ferry have the temperament to lead King County through a budget minefield largely of his own making?

Random thought: Constantine has “denied” the charges of vote trading, but he has not “refuted” them. If it’s true that the e-mail in question “was one line in many, many e-mails and it was just between me and one of my staff people in a moment of frustration,” then he should release the many, many e-mails that paint a clearer picture of his support for the flood district. Not that it would actually prove anything; one hardly needs to exercise one’s imagination to picture a politician who’s willing to sacrifice a worthy project on the altar of a pet project.

Considering that three other Council members have corroborated Lambert’s contention, it’s highly unlikely that Constantine can get himself off the hook. Facts: easy to deny, hard to refute.

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Experience Is As Experience Does

In the King County Executive race, you might think that one area where Dow Constantine would have a clear advantage over his opponent, Susan Hutchison, would be real world, county government experience. Instead, Hutchison and her allies have turned a negative into a positive by going on the offensive against Constantine.

Watch this ad; it’s a marvel of factual correctness, it’s humorous and it shreds Constantine’s experience as worse than worthless.

This brings up the question, if Constantine has any answers, where’s he been hiding them since 2002?

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In A Field Cleared of Liberal Competition, Constantine Still Hasn’t Closed The Deal

Susan Hutchison leads Dow Constantine in the King County Executive race, 47% to 44%, not that this information would be available to you if the Seattle Times were your primary source of local news; a search of their website this morning found no mention of the King5/SurveyUSA poll conducted September 1st through 3rd.

The Seattle P-I does a bit better; they report the results, but with the rather misleading headline, “Poll: Constantine closes gap on Hutchison in exec’s race.”

While not an outright lie, the P-I is playing Spin the Headline and making a good game of it. To arrive at this conclusion, the P-I compares the new results to pre-primary poll results, when the Democrat vote was split between three relatively strong candidates – Constantine, Fred Jarrett and Ross Hunter. If the P-I wanted to call attention to the real news, wouldn’t a more appropriate headline have been, “Poll: Constantine fails to take lead over Hutchison in exec’s race?”

Both headlines are true, after a fashion, but one cuts right to the heart of the news; the other, well, deliberately directs attention away from it.

The lead is within the margin of error. Even so, it’s extremely interesting that Hutchison, the more conservative of the two candidates, is quite possibly leading this race. The fact that Constantine isn’t polling ahead in a field cleared of liberal competition in ultra-liberal King County is actually rather astonishing, evidenced by the fact that the local media is busy providing cover. Here’s to hoping it’s a sign of things to come.

(How liberal is King County? For those of you who don’t know, Seattle, in the heart of the county, will have two liberal Democrats on the mayoral ballot this fall as a result of Washington’s misguided top-two primary system. So much for choice.)

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