Why do public officials think they can lie to us?July 2, 2014 @ 7:52 am (Updated: 9:00 am - 7/2/14 )
Taken from Tuesday's edition of The Dori Monson Show.
I've been a watchdog of local government for a couple of decades now. I have never seen a something like what we have now in local politics. What we are seeing is a level of hypocrisy and lying among the people running this city like I have never seen before.
They hate the rich unless the rich are their buddies. They hate the rich unless the rich will fund their campaigns. We have such incredible hypocrites who will say anything they can to stir up the masses, but their actions, their lives are completely different from the way that they talk.
You have Jorge Carrasco, the head of Seattle City Light. We've been following the whole litany of problems, where a couple of two-bit con artists scammed him out of $120,000 of scrap metal, how he spent $47,000 of taxpayer dollars on some online company to cleanse his reputation when people did Bing or Google searches about him. Then the $120,000 raise question.
Let me stress, I don't fault Jorge Carrasco for wanting a big, fat raise. Every time my contract is up, I seek a raise. Sometimes I get them, sometimes I don't. But I want to get as much money as I possibly can. I don't for one second fault Jorge Carrasco for wanting a raise.
I do fault him for coming on KIRO Radio on Friday and lying to tens of thousands of our listeners on a very straight forward question asked to him by Jason Rantz.
Jason Rantz: "Did you ask for a raise?"
Jorge Carrasco: "No. I think the, theóno I didn't. I did not ask for a raise."
The way he stumbled over the beginning of his answer, it just didn't ring true to our reporter Brandi Kruse.
So Brandi tried to get a straight answer from Ed Murray's office: Did he ask for a raise?
They released this convoluted, double-speak statement that said, 'Well that's not the question, the question is does he deserve it.' Brandi said, 'Excuse me, I'm the reporter, and that is my question, I want to know if your highest paid city employee lied on our station on Friday.'
We kept digging. We eventually found out that yes, he did ask for a raise. The city released a statement saying:
Carrasco Expands on Answer Regarding Salary
Some media outlets have asked follow-up questions regarding Seattle City Light General Manger Jorge Carrasco's answer in recent interviews regarding whether he asked for a salary increase.
Carrasco did encourage Mayor Murray to recommend a pay band increase to the Seattle City Council in line with a 2013 market study of his position. In so doing, he hoped it would result in a salary increase.
Let me translate all that blah, blah, blah for you. That's two doublespeak paragraphs saying he lied.
The other question I have is: Why do all these public officials think they can get away with all of this?
Part of the reason why I think officials think they can get away with stuff like this is because there is a local media that for the most part lets them get away with it.
But KIRO Radio's Brandi Kruse was not willing to accept what Carrasco said on our air at face value. I asked her why.
"There were two things," Brandi said. "One just the way that he answered it [...] It's such a simple question. It's a yes or no question and he falters, and that seemed really odd to me. He began to explain something and I was like, well what was he going to explain before he said no I didn't ask for a raise?
"The second thing, if he's telling the truth and he didn't ask for a raise, how did it come about? Did the mayor just say you know who I think really deserves a raise, Jorge Carrasco. Given the amount of money, if Jorge was telling the truth, we just wanted to know why the raise came about, did it come about out of thin air or how did that happen?
"So that's why we reached out to the mayor's office because the mayor's office was really the only people who could answer the question for us definitively. And they wouldn't give us a straight answer."
The more the mayor's office dodged the question, Brandi says the more suspicious everything became. Finally, the city released the statement "expanding" on Carrasco's interview statements.
There were tens of thousands of people listening to that interview on Friday with Carrasco. Certainly, there were a lot of people in city government, past and present who knew he was lying. How did he think he could get away with lying like that? Brandi says she was a little bit angry when she started thinking about it.
"I think the media in general tends to accept things at face value. They would assume that a public official wouldn't come on the airwaves and lie to tens of thousands of people in a lie that he was easily caught in."
"I think that we as the media, and I am part of this as well," says Brandi, "we need to do a better job of making sure that things that people tell us are the truth."
I'm cynical about everything I'm told. I don't give anyone a free pass on anything. And clearly, we shouldn't accept what they say just because they say it, because it's proven that they lie an awful lot to us.
In this case, Brandi says city officials not being open about the issue made it a much bigger story.
"It's unfortunate that the mayor's office wouldn't just say, I don't know why he said that, but it's not true. Now it's become something bigger than it had to be."
I don't know why Carrasco, when he was asked the question didn't say, 'Yeah I asked for the raise. I want to get as much money as I can. I'm worth it. I deliver value. I'm better than anybody else they could find for this job and I'm worth every penny they pay me.' I would have had no argument with that. I would have had zero beef with that whatsoever.
But Brandi actually found a source willing to say this wasn't even Carrasco's only request for a raise, so he sort of lied two times.
"Not only did he ask Mayor Ed Murray for a raise, but he also asked former Mayor Mike McGinn for a raise during his administration," says Brandi. "We were told by a former city official who worked for the McGinn administration who wanted to speak on the condition of anonymity, that back in 2013, Carrasco came to the mayor and said, 'I deserve a raise, I deserve a raise in my pay.' And the election of course happened and Mayor McGinn lost the election and so things moved onto Mayor Ed Murray.
"So when he's answering Jason's question saying I didn't ask for a raise, not only did he ask for a raise, but he asked two different mayors for a raise in the span of a year."
Again, I don't' blame him for asking for a raise. I blame him for lying on our radio stations about it. But to Brandi Kruse, I say great job. Great job holding these guys' feet to fire and I hope that maybe they'll think twice about lying to us down the road.
Taken from Tuesday's edition of The Dori Monson Show.
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