OP-ED: City Council is mis-using tax dollars to protect itself from the citizens
By Brendan Kolding
On Tuesday, Seattle City Council voted 7-1 in favor of funding Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s legal defense in court proceedings regarding a citizen-led effort to recall her from office. The bill was expected to come in at around $75,000. On Wednesday, Judge Jim Rogers ruled that the recall will be allowed to proceed. It is unknown what the final cost to taxpayers will be after Sawant exhausts all avenues of appeal.
Let me break this down a little. A group of citizens has organized this recall effort, as is their right under Article 1, Section 33 of the Washington State Constitution. They have filed a recall charge with King County Elections, alleging that Sawant has committed various acts of malfeasance while in office. They made their case to Judge Rogers, who determined that four of the six allegations are specific and serious enough to initiate a recall petition. This group of citizens now has 180 days to collect almost 11,000 signatures in District 3. If that threshold is met, the matter will be put before the voters. Appeals notwithstanding, there are still two steps to go before Sawant can be recalled, both of which involve taking the pulse of her constituents to see how strongly they support this effort.
Sawant does not want to let it get that far, so she has retained private counsel to prevent the petition from circulating. It is important to understand that the approved funding is for that purpose and that purpose alone. If Sawant feels that her actions have been within the bounds of the law, then why bother contesting the matter in court? Why did she not just submit a written statement to the judge responding to each of the allegations and trust that justice would prevail? Why not have faith that the people who voted her into office will not vote her out? Why hire a pricey legal team to protect her from her own constituents?
Sawant’s actions are motivated by fear and anger. She cannot offer reasonable defense to the allegations against her, as evidenced by Judge Rogers’ decision. She is afraid that the citizens of District 3 are finally angry enough to vote her out of office. She knew that her best chance of defeating the recall effort was to prevent it from getting out of King County Superior Court, and now she will likely keep the matter tangled in the court system for as long as she can.
But this article is not really about Sawant. It is about her seven colleagues on City Council (Councilmember Deborah Juarez was the sole dissenting vote) who voted to allow her to use tax dollars for the purpose discussed above. Citing precedent, they have offered the flimsy explanation that Sawant is entitled to this support from the taxpayers. The fact is that they are also afraid of the anger that is percolating throughout the city. Last year, the voters were just not angry enough to effect change at City Hall. 2020 has been rough, and people are too upset and anxious to wait for the seven district seats to come up for re-election in 2023. Although no one else on the City Council has as strong of a case against them as does Sawant, some of them could very well find themselves appealing to their colleagues for similar funding in the future. Hand-wringing at City Hall has led to the shameful decision to misuse tax dollars at a time when resources are scarce. Our leaders are afraid of their own constituents, and they will stop at nothing to protect their positions of power.
Brendan Kolding is former Seattle Police officer and candiate for Seatttle City Council
wow. This just validates the insidious behavior of Seattle City Counsel
A veritable den of thieves who will protect their own as long as they perceive it to be advantageous to them.
Vote her out!
Why are you publishing op-eds from a cop who was fired from SPD for dishonesty? Brendan you have no credibility.
Recall ALL of them, they are complicit in not only Sawant's actions but also the degradation of our city. Lisa Herbold allows our junction to be overrun with drug dealers and junkies, I don't feel safe walking my daughters to Safeway or Husky Deli for Ice cream. What happened? Why is no one else saying something? Thank you Brendan for NOT going away or giving up on us. I love this city, West Seattle especially, my heart is broken.