JASON RANTZ

Rantz: Seattle Mayor’s top staffer slams judge for creating ‘fentanyl festival’

Dec 4, 2022, 2:51 PM | Updated: 3:08 pm
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An influential member of Mayor Bruce Harrell’s inner circle excoriated a judge for helping turn Seattle into a “fentanyl festival,” according to an email exclusively obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) spokesperson emailed three members of Harrell’s team to alert them to an “RV case [that] involved fentanyl, heroin, crack, and a .22 caliber revolver near the West Seattle bridge.” Seattle’s director of strategic initiatives, Tim Burgess, was one of the email recipients.

But the judge went easy on the defendant. Burgess was not happy.

Rantz: Seattle councilmember defends gang graffiti as ‘unsolicited creative expression’

Judge helps create Seattle’s ‘fentanyl festival’

Police worked with a confidential informant to allegedly buy narcotics from the suspect, Thomas Hull (aka Butch), in his RV.  After the controlled drug buy, police obtained and executed a warrant to search the RV.

Upon arrest, police say Hull carried a knife and 8.6 grams of suspected fentanyl pills. In the RV, police say they found 13.4 grams of cocaine, 18.9 grams of crack cocaine, 20.4 grams of heroin, 21.5 grams of white heroin and 72.3 grams of fentanyl pills. Additionally, police say they found narcotics packaging materials, a scale, two handguns, and an “old musket”.

The KCPAO spokesperson complained that the prosecutor argued for $100,000 bail, citing the defendant’s “nine convictions for commercial burglary.” But the first appearance judge was unmoved. She only set bail at $10,000. The defendant posted bond and was released.

“Who was the first appearance judge?” Burgess asked in the September 29 email. “And people wonder why we have a fentanyl festival happening across the city.”

The judge was King County Judge Kristin Shotwell, according to the email. The spokesperson noted it was “unfortunate we lost that $100k argument.”

An administration crippled by a fear of angering activists

Burgess’ email is yet another example of tough language leveled privately, while the public messaging from the Mayor’s office remains stymied by a fear of upsetting a small but vocal activist base.

Seattle’s crime and drug crises are worsening. But publicly, Mayor Harrell is not addressing the issue with urgency. Instead, he tries to walk a fine line between acknowledging a problem and engaging a strategy that might anger activists who decry encampment and RV sweeps.

Broken-down RVs pose a clear health risk and are often fronts for drug dealing. Still, activists have been successful in stopping sweeps. They’ve allied with key councilmembers, like Teresa Mosqueda, Lisa Herbold, Dan Strauss, and Kshama Sawant, to pressure the mayor to leave encampments unharassed.

While Harrell occasionally offers comments at press conferences, he holds back much of the biting criticism. Rather than directly criticize those responsible for the crisis, like soft-on-crime judges who give endless chances to degenerates, Harrell pivots to his “one Seattle” approach to work as a united front.

But his approach is failing because city leaders are not united. His own office staffers are even sometimes at odds.

One Seattle isn’t viable

It’s not just that the council gets in the way of a homeless strategy. Council members actively undermine public safety measures.

The antagonistic council rejected the mayor’s public safety budget, permanently defunding 80 Seattle police officers in an already dangerously understaffed department. Harrell has set a goal of 1,400 officers. With under 900 deployable officers, a permanent cut of 80 cops shows that the council is not on board with Harrell’s plan.

Even uncontroversial plans are met with resistance.

After announcing his strategy to clean up gang graffiti, Mosqueda pushed back. She argued that gang members tagging businesses or city property merely engage in “unsolicited creative expression.” She endorsed views critical of the mayor’s plans.

Harrell’s only apparent allies on the council are the pro-police democrats Sara Nelson and Alex Pedersen.

And while Harrell privately declares he’d like to clear more encampments, some in his staff have gotten in the way. After a Comcast location in North Seattle blasted loud music to get a nearby homeless encampment to leave, rather than help clear the camp, the city pressured Comcast to turn off the music.

Harrell should step up, but he won’t

If Harrell and his team said publically what they said privately, it would no doubt anger the activist base. But the majority would support him. And it might just shame some judges into doing their jobs, which would help keep this city safe.

Instead, Harrell and his team stay quiet, too scared to ruffle feathers. The mayor fears a left-wing challenger for when he runs for re-election. He doesn’t seem to realize he will get a far-left challenger regardless of how he governs.

Neither Burgess nor Harrell spokesperson Jamie Housen responded to multiple requests for comments. The Burgess email cited in this piece was obtained after Housen ignored requests for comment on a previous story.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Seattle Mayor’s top staffer slams judge for creating ‘fentanyl festival’