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Dad finds needles on waterfront, blames Seattle City Council

A person sleeps under a blanket on the grass at Denny Park in Seattle Monday, May 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Seattle can now count Naveed Jamali among critics talking as if they are going to challenge the city’s leadership.

“We are at a watershed moment,” Jamali told KTTH Radio’s Jason Rantz. “I am concerned about the direction we go. I want to  help. I’m not sure what that will look like. But I am committed to trying to do something and bringing some ideas. At the end of the day, there needs to be a practical way to dealing with this … I also feel there is an opportunity with a change in the guard on the council coming up and I’m certainly looking at all options.”

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Jamali is mostly known as an expert on national security issues. He is a former FBI operative worked in intelligence for the Department of Defense. He also authored the book “How to Catch a Russian Spy: The True Story of an American Civilian Turned Double Agent.” That’s quite a unique resume to bring to the Seattle City Council, but again, he won’t confirm or deny he is running. If he does, it will be in District 7, represented by Sally Bagshaw, who is stepping down after her current term.

Jamali says he faces Seattle’s problems every day, like many others. For example, he spent a recent sunny day taking his family to the Seattle waterfront.

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“We stopped for lunch and I happened to look around and found a bunch of discarded needles and a used condom,” he said. “Which, by the way, if you haven’t had the joy of explaining to a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old what a condom is, which they think is a ponytail holder, you haven’t quite lived.”

“I grew up in the ’80s and the ’90s in New York City and I don’t remember having to deal with this, and it’s something you wish your kids didn’t have to,” Jamali said. “Nonetheless, it is a problem.”

Seattle drugs, homelessness

If there is a core issue that Jamali talks about, it’s the region’s drug problem, which he sees as being related to the homelessness issue.

“I think the larger problem is that this city is suffering through a fairly significant drug and crime problem,” he said. “I subscribe to the broken window theory. I think if you let people shoot up in parks and discard their needles like that, and that is something we are accepting … and instead, we focus on telling our kids not to pick that up, we have ceded some kind of ground there.”

“That is part of the problem with this city, a lack of leadership, a lack of identifying a core problem,” he said. “Is the problem needles in the park, or is the problem drug use? I say it’s drug use. Needles are just a symptom of the core problem. You can still be compassionate; that doesn’t mean you absolve yourself of enforcing laws. It’s as simple as that. No one is saying we can’t be empathetic or compassionate to people, and we should be. But that doesn’t mean we should tolerate certain behavior, tolerate crime.”

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Jamali promotes that he is “the most Liberal Progressive,” folks will meet. But also, he is “the most pro-law enforcement when it comes to this kind of stuff.”

He’s spoken to the region’s authorities on Seattle’s problems and says he wants leaders to start dealing with facts and data, instead of wishful thinking and ideologies.

“I have an intelligence background, I have a data background, I make no secret of this. I have had the opportunity to speak to people about this issue and try to learn,” he said.

“The answer is not clear, but what I’ve been able to piece together is that a lot of (drugs) come from down south, from Mexico and from California, but also from Canada,” Jamali said. “But the reality is we’ve all seen this. There is not major enforcement. I’m not talking hand-to-hand. I’m talking about DEA federal-level indictments … it’s pretty easy, it would appear, to get drugs here. And if you have injection sites, if you have subsidized things like that, the cost for someone to bring and distribute drugs here, from what I’ve gathered, is fairly low. So why wouldn’t you flood this market?”

“An injection site is not a long-term solution” he added. “The long term solution is to hopefully curb addiction. I don’t see how an injection site does that.”

In the end, Jamali argues that Seattle has to drop the ideology and pick up real solutions.

“This has nothing to do with Progressivism, or Conservative, or Republican, or Democrat – it’s a factual thing,” he said. “You just look out your window. There is a drug problem. There is homeless problem. There is a problem with people camping in our parks and crime associated with that. We need to remove the stigma to talk about his objectively and fairly. Not in a way that is punitive or dehumanizing to people.”

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