Rantz: Dow Constantine has mini-fit when asked about Seattle homeless shelter
Residents in Seattle’s International District are upset with a King County plan to expand a homeless shelter in their neighborhood. They say they weren’t consulted about the decision. They may have dodged a bullet given the reaction of King County Executive Dow Constantine and his staff.
Independent journalist and Discovery Institute fellow Jonathan Choe asked Constantine about the criticisms. The executive did not respond well.
An angry Constantine refused to answer, lobbed a partisan insult, and then retreated to a private staff-only elevator to avoid going on record.
Last week, community members met to complain about the shelter’s placement. They said they were “left in the dark” and that county leaders were being “racist” because they wouldn’t treat white neighborhoods this way.
“It feels like King County and the City of Seattle is engaged in this pattern of institutional racism that they may not be aware that they are engaging in and they need to know that it needs to stop,” a business owner told KING 5.
Their assertion of racism is, of course, absurd. White neighborhoods are also victimized by politicians who care little about hearing community input when they have a plan. I lived this experience in the South Lake Union neighborhood thanks to astonishing dishonesty by Seattle city leaders.
But their concerns over a lack of transparency are clearly valid. Journalists should demand answers. It’s what Choe was attempting.
#EXCLUSIVE: Earlier today, @kcexec dodged my questions about the HOMELESS MEGAPLEX he's trying to RAM through #Seattle. #Chinatown-ID is begging him to put a moratorium on project until public comments are gathered. This is a TOP 3 story in the city. We need more MEDIA on this. pic.twitter.com/8cBYmsXEcM
— Jonathan Choe Journalist (@choeshow) September 13, 2022
Dow Constantine’s fit
During the press conference, Choe attempted to ask two questions about the shelter.
Constantine first turned to Choe, looking like he would answer. But when he saw it was Choe, he turned away and staff intervened to pull him out of the press conference.
“We’ll take any other questions…” he said to other reporters in the room before saying something inaudible. He then walked away as a staffer told Choe she’d follow up with him.
Choe pursued Constantine to ask his questions as Constantine fled.
“Here’s the problem. You’re not actually a journalist. You were fired for promoting the Proud Boys, so we talk with reporters like those in the room, and we’re not going to do this,” Constantine said before hopping on a “private elevator” and leaving.
Not the right kind of media
An unidentified staffer told Choe to address his questions to the executive’s office. But he told her that they don’t respond to him.
“Yeah, that’s because we’re answering journalists’ questions,” she responded. “You are not with a media outlet that is our focus.”
Her comment is rather telling — and disingenuous. Constantine and his office aren’t focused on outlets it perceives will be critical.
Though local reporters have and will ask tough questions, their jobs oftentimes require access to politicians they cover. That prevents them from being too aggressive in their questioning, which allows Constantine and others to avoid answering questions directly. If you upset them, they may cut off your access.
As concerning, most Seattle journalists are liberal to a fault. They won’t push Constantine and other local Democrats too hard because they agree with the ideological decisions being made. That makes what Choe does so important. But it’s also why Constantine throws a mini-fit when pressed with inconvenient questions.
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