Week in Review: June 23, 2023 - with Erica Barnett

Week in Review: June 23, 2023 - with Erica Barnett

This week in review, Crystal is joined by Seattle political reporter and editor of PubliCola Erica Barnett! They discuss Everett’s OceanGate Inc.’s submersible tragedy, King County Regional Homelessness Authority turmoil, Burien’s continuing crisis, a poll showing residents favor a capital gains tax for Seattle, Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell leaving the mayor’s office, what may happen to the officer who hit and killed Jaahnavi Kandula, and local publications not crediting Erica and Publicola for their work.

About the Guest

Erica Barnett

Erica Barnett is a Seattle political reporter and editor of PubliCola.

Find Erica Barnett on Twitter/X at @ericacbarnett and on PubliCola.com.


Jorge Barón, Candidate for King County Council District 4” from Hacks & Wonks

Homelessness Authority Distances Itself from Lived Experience Coalition, Won't Re-Bid Entire System This Year as Planned” from PubliCola

Homelessness Authority Attempts to Wrest Control Over Controversial, Consequential Oversight Board” by Erica C. Barnett from PubliCola

Burien planning commissioner removal is latest in string of encampment drama” by Anna Patrick from The Seattle Times

Burien Decides to Take No Action on Encampment on Its Property, Opening Path for Private Sweep” by Erica C. Barnett from PubliCola

Poll shows Seattle residents support citywide capital gains tax” by David Gutman from The Seattle Times

Mayor Harrell’s niece out as senior deputy mayor” by Sarah Grace Taylor from The Seattle Times

Seattle Police Officer Was Driving 74 MPH When He Hit and Killed 23-Year-Old Pedestrian” by Erica C. Barnett from PubliCola

Find stories that Crystal is reading here


[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm Crystal Fincher and I'm a political consultant and your host. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy in Washington State through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on what's happening, why it's happening, and what you can do about it. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get the full versions of our Tuesday topical show and Friday week-in-review delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, the most helpful thing you can do is leave a review wherever you listen to Hacks & Wonks. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes.

If you missed our Tuesday topical show, I chatted with Jorge Barón about his campaign for King County Council District 4, why he decided to run, how 17 years at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project has prepared him for the role, and his thoughts on generating progressive revenue for county services, drug possession and substance use disorder, addressing overcrowding in the King County Jail, improving frontline worker wages and workforce issues, air quality and climate change, and the importance of oversight in genuine community engagement and policy implementation. Today, we are continuing our Friday week-in-review shows where we review the news of the week with a co-host. Welcome back to the program, friend of the show and today's co-host: Seattle political reporter, editor of PubliCola, co-host of the Seattle Nice podcast, and author of Quitter: A Memoir of Drinking, Relapse, and Recovery, Erica Barnett.

[00:01:46] Erica Barnett: Great to be here.

[00:01:47] Crystal Fincher: This has been one wild week of news. I guess we will start out talking about the Everett submersible tragedy - what we now know is a tragedy - and just an odd situation. And to me, really, the height of hubris. What did you see as this unfolded and what are your thoughts?

[00:02:08] Erica Barnett: Yeah, hubris is such a great word to describe what happened in this tragedy involving five people who went down in the submersible that - the stories are coming out now about the extent to which it was not safe and people were, within the company, were blowing the whistle. A guy was let go after saying - This, we need to do more safety analysis of this submarine, submersible rather - I don't really know the difference but it's a submersible. And it seemed like a pretty unsafe situation for everybody involved, yet the owner of the company essentially said safety checks are stupid, regulation is anti-innovation, and I'm going to go down in the sub that's run by a PlayStation controller, and everything's going to be good. And for the sake of what? It's deep sea tourism for rich people and they can call themselves explorers all they want, but the Titanic where they were going to - where they ultimately met their fate - is one of the most explored deep sea artifacts known to man. So this just, it just felt like such an avoidable tragedy if the people who ran this company, the people who surrounded the guy who ran this company, were willing to just put their foot down and say no. But of course, it's very hard to say no to billionaires with big egos - look at Elon Musk and his plan for going to Mars and space exploration and his exploding rockets.

[00:03:44] Crystal Fincher: It absolutely is hubris. It absolutely was a tragedy several years in the making, and this guy believed his own hype despite the fact that his craft was the only one like it, it wasn't certified for the job that it was actually doing. He thought the certifications were frivolous and just got in the way of innovation. And even his industry association wrote him, basically begging him to stop taking passengers and to really reevaluate what he was doing with that craft. And even if you do want to move forward and support innovation, they're like - Yeah, okay, then go down by yourself - don't take paying passengers who aren't engineers or explorers themselves. This is really irresponsible, this is going to end in a tragedy. And it absolutely did. I just, I feel bad for the 19 year old who evidently had a bad feeling - wisely - looking at the facts of the situation, the disclaimer that they were asked to sign, and his relatives said that he basically went to please his dad. That's really unfortunate. But my goodness the hubris involved, and it's just a reminder that just because we can do something doesn't mean that we should do something. And take a look at - is this really something we should be doing? Why are we going down to look at the Titanic? It's basically a graveyard at this point in time. What are we getting from doing that? I just - there's so much that is beyond me with this.

[00:05:16] Erica Barnett: Yeah, there was discussion about what the - in one of the articles I was reading - about what the purpose of this was. And I think their stated justification was - Well, we're studying the way that the Titanic wreckage is decaying over time. But they were going down every year - that's BS - it was, it's an ego trip. And I think this is a general lesson that people who think they're smarter than experts could take to heart, which is that expertise matters and experience doing something matters. And if you are saying the laws of physics don't apply to you, you should talk to some people who know about the laws of physics. And if you're saying engineers are boring, which is a paraphrase of something that Stockton Rush, the head of the company, said - he said, We don't want a bunch of 50-something year old guys, we want young innovators. Those 50-something year old guys were the ones telling him that this wasn't safe and that's not what he wanted to hear. But it turns out, they actually knew what they were talking about.

[00:06:14] Crystal Fincher: They did. And it just reminds me so much of - we've heard so many - really tech entrepreneurs most of all - talking about disruption, talking about how regulations and traditional processes are just passe and they get in the way of innovation. And all of these regulations are unnecessary and bad and get in the way of - these entrepreneurs just trying to do their thing and innovate. And they're there for a reason. We have seen how so many of those tales wind up and it turns out they weren't doing anything mind blowing, technologically groundbreaking. They were just looking at different ways to exploit the system. And it feels like this was another thing where he was looking for some loopholes to get through, felt really smart for supposedly figuring it out. But there's a reason that happens - regulations, as they say, are written in blood. And here's yet another example. So I just hope people learn the lesson with this, and we don't see another replay - we'll see how that works out.

I also want to talk about the King County Regional Homelessness Authority, which just has a lot going on. What is this week's news?

[00:07:29] Erica Barnett: Boy, where to start - there's going to be a meeting today. So I guess I'll start in reverse chronological order - there's going to be a meeting today to essentially take over control of the Continuum of Care Board, which is an obscure but very important body that oversees federal funding that comes in from HUD, but that had a big controversy earlier this year - as I reported - when one of the members of the board shouted down another member over the proposed appointment of a sex offender who had targeted teenage girls to the board. That blew up in a big way, it got picked up all over right wing media - which really distorted the story quite a bit and demonized this volunteer board member. And now I think in the fallout from that and with the departure of former CEO Marc Dones, the KCRHA is trying to get control over that board in a literal way. They're adopting a new charter that essentially takes away some of the board's powers to appoint its own members and that sort of thing. So that is happening today. The KCRHA was also supposed to rebid the entire homelessness system. So basically start from zero, we're going to rebid all these contracts, it might be a whole new set of players - that was supposed to happen next year. And it's not going to happen now until at least the year after that. So there's just a lot of retrenchment going on with the departure of Marc Dones. Helen Howell is the interim CEO and I think that she is trying to do a lot of damage control. They're distancing themselves from this group called the Lived Experience Coalition that had a lot of power in the old structure. So there's a lot of just change and churn happening at the organization right now.

[00:09:05] Crystal Fincher: There's a lot of change and churn. We've also seen an op-ed earlier this month, from King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn, calling for basically the end of the King County Regional Homelessness Authority. Other people I've seen - who consider themselves progressive - also wondering what the purpose is, what the future holds. Is it really going to continue being such a lopsided or Seattle-heavy organization? Are other suburban cities also going to contribute? What do you think the future looks like for this organization?

[00:09:42] Erica Barnett: I think the organization is in a position where it has to succeed - that's not to say that it will - but I think these calls for it to just be evaporated or for it to be defunded are pretty, frankly, stupid and beside the point. Because those conversations have already happened, we decided to create this authority - there were progressive objections at the time too, but here we are. And so I think now what the authority really needs is support from the county and the city. And one thing that has really hindered it is not just lack of buy-in from suburban cities, because suburban cities - it's true, they are not on board with what the authority wants to do by and large, they have various types of objections to various aspects including the whole philosophy of Housing First. But I think the bigger problem is the KCRHA does not have money to be anything other than an administrative pass-through organization at this point. And I think it over promised based on wishful thinking about funding and about what it could do with the money that it had. And they promised that they would be a transformational force to reduce and end homelessness within a very short period of time. And we've heard those promises before and they never come true because, in part, because there's just - we don't put the funding behind it. So the amount of funding they have is basically the same as existed before the RHA was even stood up. So it just stands to reason that they're not going to make a transformational system with the same amount of money. To me, these calls to just dissolve it are beside the point, and also Reagan Dunn and others who are saying this don't actually have an alternative proposal other than just don't do anything.

[00:11:23] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and it also seems like we've seen friction between the Homelessness Authority and some of its subcontractors or organizations who are doing some of the groundwork. Has that been a hindrance, and does it look like it may continue to be?

[00:11:39] Erica Barnett: It's an interesting question. For example, the authority is doing an investigation into the Low Income Housing Institute - I'm not sure when that the results of that are going to come out. And maybe that's justified, but launching into investigations and focusing on that kind of stuff - that creates obviously tremendous friction between the authority and its contractors - which, again, maybe that's fine if there's problems there. But it does feel like it has been such an adversarial force. And I think that Marc Dones came in with a lot of criticism for the existing system and existing providers and wanting to reinvent the wheel. And as it turns out, existing providers in many cases actually know what they're doing and are experts. And we were talking about expertise - it is important not to alienate everybody that you're going to have to work with that makes up the entire homelessness system. So I think there's a lot of broken trust there that's going to have to be rebuilt. And I'm not saying that means don't investigate agencies where there are problems, but there has just been an adversarial relationship between the authority and a lot of these groups that is going to have to be repaired for the system to work.

[00:12:53] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. We will continue to follow what happens with the Regional Homelessness Authority. Now let's talk about Burien - my goodness, Burien.

[00:13:02] Erica Barnett: Oh, Burien. What are we going to do with you?

[00:13:06] Crystal Fincher: So what has been happening this week in Burien?

[00:13:10] Erica Barnett: Oh, goodness - just to briefly recap - the City of Burien, of course, has failed to do anything to meaningfully address and help a relatively small group of people who are living unsheltered in Burien, moved them around from place to place. And last week, they censured and removed from his position the head of the Planning Commission for Burien - because he essentially told the group of encampment residents who were living outside the library about another spot where they could legally be, that's also owned by the city. And I did not attend this meeting, but I heard it was incredibly ugly and that there were tirades from the dais about the role this planning commissioner played in helping these unsheltered people go somewhere safe.

And the Planning Commission, or commission of any small city, is - you could say it's not really a big deal. Who even knows about this commission? What do they do? But it's a way of silencing people for what they do in their private lives and punishing them for what they do in their private lives. And these are volunteer commissioners - who show up and do the work. And they could now be censured for stuff they say on Twitter, conceivably, or any sort of actions that the city council and the mayor of Burien don't agree with. And that is just an absurd silencing of free speech, among other things. And I think it's really, really troubling on a much larger scale than just the City of Burien. And also, the city turned down a million dollars from King County that was no strings attached to actually help the people who are living homeless in Burien who are now scattered - to the four winds, essentially - across Burien and across downtown Burien. They had an opportunity to spend this money however they wanted. And they said, we don't want the money.

[00:15:03] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and have they even officially said - We don't want the money, or have they just not even bothered to respond to the offer?

[00:15:12] Erica Barnett: That's true. I'm just taking that as a "we don't want the money" because you have this offer out here - they're so, in my view from watching the story - they are, they're just so dead set against King County at this point that they won't even work with them is my impression. And I think they just want this problem to go away. I think they want to grandstand and tell homeless people to pick themselves up by their bootstraps or suggest that they're not really from Burien, which is not true from people who have worked with these particular individuals for years. And again, it's a small group of people that are being demonized and singled out for existing homeless in a small city that doesn't have a lot of resources. So a million dollars could have gone a long way.

[00:15:56] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, a million dollars plus 35 Pallet shelters ready to go - on offer. And in addition to that, it is just confounding - basically to your point - whether or not they take it up, they've effectively declined it. And this - the saddest thing, two sad things. One, this is a result of a split council majority. And we're used to hearing this kind of rhetoric from MAGA people, from super right wing, far-right kind of extremists. But right now, we're seeing this from - a Democrat is part of this conservative majority on the council - and just really disappointing to hear how extreme the rhetoric has been. You talked about coming from the dais - there's a clip of Deputy Mayor Kevin Schilling, there was a clip of another councilmember - just really disheartening and kind of stomach turning to watch.

[00:16:50] Erica Barnett: Unprofessional - I would say - I just I don't know how you can have a reasonable conversation with a councilmember who said - not during this conversation, but previously - that people living on the piece of land that former planning commissioner Charles Schaefer suggested should just go to the bathroom in the dog bags that are provided for dogs. And this was in saying that she didn't want to provide a porta potty for people living unsheltered at the site. It's just heartless, dehumanizing stuff that I think is inappropriate to be coming from the dais of a city council. So it's hard to see where they go from here. And I will also add - I neglected to mention one thing that also happened - is that a lot of other city commissioners and board members resigned in protest of Charles Schaefer's removal from the Planning Commission. It's just really unprecedented stuff over in Burien right now. And yeah, I think they're - their elections are coming up and we'll see. But I think that they're at an impasse right now.

[00:17:51] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, it does appear that they're at an impasse. And again, sweeping people does not do anything to solve the issue of them not having homes, which is the main problem. And what we saw - yet again, for the third time - is after being swept from a location, they still have nowhere to go, so they move somewhere else. Burien is not big - the area that we're talking about is not big. And this is actually not a big population of people that we're dealing with. This is one of those rare situations that really seems solvable, particularly with the partnership from the county. It really does seem like it's possible to move the unhoused people in Burien into shelter, to work with the people who are there, and to get that done. And they just won't - they just refuse to. I will say that there are three councilmembers in the minority who have been doing the hard work - Cydney Moore, who we will have an upcoming interview with on a Tuesday topical show, but who was also up for censure in that special meeting where they kicked out the planning commissioner, Hugo Garcia and Sarah Moore have been working and trying to get the council to move to take action. But when the majority does not feel that way, you really can't do anything. So we saw this week that one of the few remaining plots of public land where people would be able to go just had some hostile architecture pop up - a bunch of rocks and some campaign signs of a candidate who is very hostile to the homeless - popped up in that strip of dirt. So we'll see what comes next, but it certainly is really sad to watch.

Also making news this week is a poll about a local capital gains tax for Seattle. What do Seattle residents prefer?

[00:19:36] Erica Barnett: They prefer a capital gains tax, apparently. There are caveats, right? So it's a capital gains tax on the sale of stocks and bonds over $250,000. And according to this poll, which was reported in The Seattle Times, the level of support is over half and less than a third oppose the idea, and then the rest are undecided. But that's pretty darn strong support for a new tax in the City of Seattle. We always hear about tax fatigue, but I think that when you propose a progressive tax - which a capital gains tax is rather than yet another sales tax that makes everything more expensive for everybody - people support it.

[00:20:14] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. Now, what are the prospects look like - this being introduced - is this something that may move soon in the City?

[00:20:23] Erica Barnett: I'm not sure about the timeline, but I do think that if polling is happening on this, it is because it's something the City Council is talking about. We've discussed the capital gains tax in the past - the State Supreme Court upheld the state's capital gains tax this year, so I think that there is a lot of momentum for it. Alex Pedersen has proposed, recently, a 2% capital gains tax. Of course, he's going to be leaving the council, so I don't know if this is something that can happen this year. But I do think - the City has been desperately looking for progressive revenue sources to fund some of its priorities - facing big budget shortfalls in coming years. We need more funding. And that funding cannot just eternally come from property tax, which is also a regressive tax that renters end up paying as well. So I think that the prospects of this are pretty good. It's the first new progressive revenue proposal that's come about since the JumpStart Tax, which is a tax on big employers. So I think that taxing the rich, taxing big wealthy corporations that don't pay their fair share - I think these are very popular ideas in the City of Seattle.

[00:21:35] Crystal Fincher: This is certainly going to be interesting - just because the City is facing a budget shortfall without this - there is talk of needing more revenue or needing to make some significant cuts. So this may be introduced right at the right time for City budget purposes. It'll be interesting to see, especially with someone like Councilmember Pedersen leading the charge for this, to see that this may be workable, to see what kind of coalition comes together around this. But we will keep our eyes on it.

Also news this week - that's pretty significant, especially in wonky and hacky circles - is news that Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell is transitioning out of Mayor Harrell's administration. How did you see this?

[00:22:20] Erica Barnett: Yeah, wow - it was big news, and it's been rumored for a couple weeks. And how did I see it? I see it as the power struggle within the mayor's office has landed in Tim Burgess's court. So Tim Burgess is the longtime advisor to Bruce Harrell - former city councilmember, works in the mayor's office, and is now going to be the deputy mayor. And he is much more of what I call a law-and-order person. He very much supports what I would call punitive approaches to low-level crimes - things like shoplifting, drug use, etc. And I think Monisha Harrell definitely had a different point of view and approach. She was and is much more oriented towards harm reduction, towards trying to figure out ways for example, drug users to get into recovery as opposed to going to jail. That's an oversimplification, but those are the fault lines within the mayor's office. And I think that the faction that's led by Tim Burgess has obviously won that battle. And I think perhaps because Bruce Harrell is probably more oriented to that point of view than he is to his niece's - Monisha Harrell's - point of view. What do you think?

[00:23:26] Crystal Fincher: I think that's largely right. I think, especially at this point in time in the reporting that we've seen, reflects what I've known about Monisha for several years. When she came in - certainly for people who hadn't known about her - it may raise eyebrows to see a mayor appointing his niece. But when you look at Monisha's resume and list of accomplishments, she absolutely earned that position and deserved to be there. And has been behind a lot of statewide policy moving in a progressive direction - in terms of public safety, in terms of some police reforms, and trying to move into a better direction with these issues that we're dealing with right now in how we treat substance use and substance abuse. But she has been behind a lot of policy and isn't always trying to take credit out front, but has been there and has a reputation for being a person of her word. And I can just imagine that that is a complicated position to be in when you have some policy disagreements with your uncle, who is the mayor - you are the deputy mayor, you have some other really big personalities like Tim Burgess in that executive's office. And we see how things did shake out.

And I don't think - and I haven't had discussions with Monisha about this, this is no inside information or anything, but just from an outsider perspective - it does seem like there was some significant misalignment. But it's a challenge and it's always a dilemma. And I know lots of people who go in, even if you disagree with the executive there, if you feel that you can make a positive contribution - and to be clear, Monisha wasn't going in saying, I disagree or anything, she's always signaled public alignment with Mayor Harrell - but it's a complicated position to be in. And I know she was probably just trying to do her best and get the job done. But when the ultimate decision is not yours, things can go a different way. And it looks like a lot of things have gone a different way in the City of Seattle. And a lot of things that we're still waiting on - she was on Hacks & Wonks talking about trying to stand up a Department of Public Safety, talking about standing up alternative responses so that you could have the most appropriate responder - that's not always going to be an armed cop responding, but someone, if it's a substance abuse crisis, if it's a mental health crisis - but things just seem to have gone sideways. So we'll see what she does next and where she lands. But I - with no friction or resistance in this mayor's office seemingly - kind of worrisome about the direction of public safety, especially as there is a SPOG contract being negotiated right now. Just wonder what's going to happen from here on out.

[00:26:11] Erica Barnett: Yeah, I think - just real quickly - I think that an internal issue with Monisha leaving, within the City itself is, I hear from people in the departments on the second floor, all through City Hall that - the second floor, sorry, being City Council - but also just within the departments that Monisha was somebody that you could really work with, that she would sit down and listen. And listen - which is, and like you said, was a straight shooter, would not BS you, and would - was willing to change her perspective from learning new information. And I'm not sure that Burgess has necessarily shown himself to be that same type of person or personality. And yeah, I think this third department is probably going to still happen, but it may happen in a different way. And I'm not entirely confident that Burgess is going to be someone who changes his mind on beliefs that he has formed very, very firmly over many, many years about public safety. This is the guy that proposed criminalizing "aggressive panhandling" when he was on the City Council. So very, very different perspective from what Monisha brought to it. And just also, I wonder what's going to happen within the City itself when there isn't somebody like Monisha sitting down with folks and listening and saying - Okay, I hear you - and taking that back to the mayor's office.

[00:27:38] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and I think sometimes people look at the mayor and the people who work for the mayor, and they think everybody is completely in alignment. And they're all just working towards the same goal. And that is frequently not the case. What you see is what the final adjudication is, what the final decision is - but a lot of times there's vehement debate, there's pushback, there's things that are mitigated before it gets out to the public. And you would be surprised sometimes how much difference someone pushing back internally can make in the way things turn out publicly. And I wish things would have gone differently, but here we are. And we will continue to pay attention to what is happening in the mayor's office.

Also this week - got more information about what went into the officer fatally running over, basically, Jaahnavi Kandula a few months back. What happened here?

[00:28:43] Erica Barnett: Yeah, I had been trying to get this information for several months about what actually happened, particularly how fast this officer was going - and finally had my third or fourth attempt at a record request fulfilled by the SPD, actually pretty quickly, because this case has been referred over to the King County Prosecutor. So what we learned, among other things, is that he was driving 74 miles an hour in a 25 mile an hour zone immediately before he struck her. So he hit the brakes about two-thirds of a second before the impact. And so what we can tell from that is that he was going too fast for her to have possibly gotten out of the way - she did attempt to run, but it was too late. As I said, the investigation is now to some extent in the King County Prosecutor's office. SPD, of course, is doing - did its own internal investigation and has to decide whether to fire this guy and that could result in a whole series of appeals. So we'll see what happens with that.

But one issue that's probably going to come up is this question of whether he had his siren on as he was approaching. I don't know that it would have made a difference, because he was already speeding when he was a block away. But in terms of policy, you're supposed to exercise due care. And part of that is having lights and sirens on. And the report says that he was chirping his siren sporadically as he went through intersections approaching the site of the collision. And that is, to my understanding, not the policy when you're doing emergency driving. And in any case, I don't know that SPD is going to find that it's - or the King County Prosecutor is going to find that it's appropriate to be going 75 in a 25 mile an hour zone, even when you are supposedly doing emergency driving to get to an emergency, which is also questionable for reasons that I've reported.

[00:30:34] Crystal Fincher: Extremely questionable - just why that officer, and the policy of officers is to respond to overdose calls in the first place. I think it was just an unfortunate situation all the way around. It's not going to shock me, like so many times it doesn't shock me, if they come up with a finding that the officer didn't do anything punishable. But how we don't sit back and question every single element of this and understand that we can do better and we deserve better - if this doesn't spur that, I don't know what will.

[00:31:07] Erica Barnett: I wouldn't be surprised to see them make an example of this guy and suggest that this is a one bad apple situation, but we'll see.

[00:31:14] Crystal Fincher: We will see. And before we conclude today - I didn't put this in the list that we were going to talk about. But I want to talk about yet more examples this week - and I don't know why this happens so much with you - of your reporting being copied, plagiarized -

[00:31:31] Erica Barnett: oh Lord.

[00:31:32] Crystal Fincher: - without, and being uncredited. Why is it so hard for people to credit you?

[00:31:38] Erica Barnett: I don't think it's a me problem - honestly.

[00:31:41] Crystal Fincher: It is so not a you problem.

[00:31:43] Erica Barnett: Well, no, no, no - what I mean is I think it's a small publication problem. But yeah, I do a lot of original reporting - last week I broke a bunch of stories and one of them was plagiarized by Ari Hoffman at The Post Millennial, which is a right wing site. And he just took my language, changed it slightly, took out - this was about the judge who ruled that police, essentially, can't enforce the graffiti law for the time being. And without going into the details of that story - he just lifted it and took out some of the language that was perhaps not flattering to SPD and used all my same links, including a link to a very obscure site that somebody sent me on Twitter to the ruling, like a public site where you can actually see the ruling without having to pay. So blatant plagiarism. And I am in touch with attorneys and will be taking action on that.

But then King 5, quite infuriatingly, took this story that we were just talking about - which I have been reporting on for months and I've been the only reporter in town who has continued to pay attention to the story of this officer who ran down a pedestrian and written about it multiple times, filed request after request to get this information, finally got it, read this 99-page report thoroughly before reporting on it. And then, six hours later, King 5 miraculously has all the information that was in my story - on a story that they have never paid any attention to since it happened in January. So it was an extremely clear cut case of using my reporting. And that's fine if you say this was reported by PubliCola, which a lot of other outlets who reported on this did, including KIRO, Seattle Times. It's just a basic thing - you can report something, but say who did it first - because this was an exclusive. But they didn't do that. I don't know why. I think it's because it's easier to do it to a small outlet. I don't think they would do this to The Seattle Times because they have a battalion of attorneys and I don't, so it's easy to get away with. And I asked them repeatedly to just give me a credit and they have ignored all of my requests.

[00:33:56] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, and that's not cool. And they should credit you.

[00:33:59] Erica Barnett: It's not cool.

[00:34:00] Crystal Fincher: And that should be a regular thing, whether it's an independent outlet or a behemoth like The Seattle Times. But I just wanted to talk about that, say we saw that - and people need to do better.

[00:34:13] Erica Barnett: I appreciate that.

[00:34:14] Crystal Fincher: But also hopefully there's a small little bit of satisfaction - silver lining there - that your reporting is solid, and it's good, and you're asking the right questions, and digging in the right places, and uncovering information that is useful to us all. And I appreciate that.

[00:34:31] Erica Barnett: Well, thank you - the thing is, just quickly to plug - King 5 would not have had this story if I hadn't reported it, which means that if PubliCola wasn't around, the story would not have existed or it would have been reported much later and in a different way and with a different focus. And so I think that it might be easy to say King 5 - we got it from King 5, who cares? But King 5 and all these other outlets were not paying close attention to this the way that we were.

[00:34:58] Crystal Fincher: Absolutely. And with that, we thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks on this Friday, June 23rd, 2023. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Shannon Cheng. Our insightful co-host today is Seattle political reporter and editor of PubliCola, Erica Barnett. You can find Erica on Twitter @ericacbarnett and on PubliCola.com. You can follow Hacks & Wonks on Twitter @HacksWonks. And you can catch Hacks & Wonks wherever you get your podcasts - just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast to get the full versions of our Friday week-in-review shows and our Tuesday topical show delivered to your podcast feed. If you like us, please leave a review wherever you listen. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and the links to the resources referenced in the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in - talk to you next time.