An open letter to Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmeson August 13, 2014 @ 12:00 pm (Updated: 4:29 pm - 8/13/14 )
Over the weekend, I saw a news story that said you are advising citizens who received citations for smoking marijuana in public to contest them. I assume that means you are predisposed to dismiss those citations. I wanted to confirm that with you, so we invited you to come on the show Monday to explain.
While marijuana is now legal in our state, public smoking is not. I wanted to know, if the citations were valid, why the city attorney would choose to ignore that law. Is it just because you too are a pot smoker?
I found it very disturbing that your spokesperson, Kimberly Mills, told us you would not do an interview with us. Her stated reason: because reporter Brandi Kruse works for our station.
My producer asked what your specific gripe with Brandi is and Kimberly could not - or would not - cite anything specific.
So I am left to assume that you are unhappy that Brandi broke the story of you violating city policy when you brought marijuana into your workplace at City Hall.
When Brandi got your calendar through a public records request, she saw that your trip to Cannabis City to buy weed (covered by local media) was listed as an official event on your calendar that day. We then discovered that you brought the marijuana you bought back to your office.
Brandi then got her hands on an email, sent by the city's personnel director, that seemed to indicate your actions were a direct violation of the city's drug-free workplace policy. But your office repeatedly lied to us - saying you had not violated the policy.
After we aired the story of your violation and denials, only then did you and your staff admit your transgression.
Brandi then discovered, through another public records request, that you had offered to donate a day's pay to charity as punishment. But you were advised by the personnel department that any other city employee would have faced at least a week's suspension for what they called a "major offense." Only then did you up your donation to $3,000.
Now, you are punishing KIRO Radio because we have a reporter who broke the story of your misdeeds. I would like to know if that is the policy of the City Attorney's Office going forward: that you will only do interviews with news organizations if they treat you with kid gloves.
Because, Mr. Holmes, if that is indeed your position, I consider it to be disturbing at best. At worst, it's a frightening stance for a public official to take.
Punishing a news organization for doing its job as a watchdog of government is a tyrannical attitude.
You are welcome to come on my show to respond. If you respond with an email, I will happily post it on my blog.
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