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Rantz: Sloppy reporting by activist, and councilmember makes up claim

M. Lorena Gonzalez. (AP file Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Roger Valdez got a big story wrong and he owes the Seattle City Council an apology. In response, a council member also made things up.

In a Forbes piece, Valdez claimed an oft-cited report by council members, to justify their head tax vote, doesn’t exist. It does. I’m reading it now. And it was sent to the council before the head tax vote. In his Forbes piece, Valdez wrote:

That’s right. There never was a report. City leaders were citing a report that never existed, reported as fact by reporters that never verified its existence, to justify a tax on jobs.

He’s 100 percent wrong. Valdez reports “By May 11th, the day of the committee vote on the $75 million tax, Councilmember Lorena Gonzalez cited the phantom report from the Council dais when she voted for the tax.”

But, on May 10 at 7:04 p.m., a consultant with McKinsey and Company sent the following email to Gonzalez:

Hello CM Gonzalez, Hope you’re doing well. We’ve received several requests for a report briefing from the other council members. Would you be able to invite them to our session tomorrow afternoon?  I’m traveling out of town before then and again next week so would love to be inclusive of them as well. Its easiest to digest the report and respond to questions if we walk through it live together. I’ll be sending the report ahead of the meeting to the council members that have reached-out by mid-morning tomorrow.

The report was sent, though I don’t yet know when. In the email forwarded to me from the council’s communication director, the date and timestamp is missing from the email with the report, though the email excerpted above includes that information. The context of the email implies it was sent the next day, but I’m waiting on clarification from the council on the exact date and time.

Nevertheless, the report exists and Valdez must explain how he got this so spectacularly wrong. He’ll be on my show Friday morning to explain.

Now, Gonzalez decided to react in a bizarre, seemingly premeditated trolling.

In a statement on Twitter, Gonzalez started out by calling out Forbes, but then claimed: 

My mention is not included in her emailed statement, indicating to me this was her way of trolling me on Twitter.

Only, I didn’t redact anything. I can’t redact someone else’s reporting. I reported on the truth. I explained what Valdez reported, reached out immediately to Gonzalez’s office and the communications director, and when the study was provided, I immediately updated the story to say Valdez was incorrect. I did this out of fairness to Gonzalez, who, in return, trolled me on Twitter.

As much as I think she has failed Seattle with her vote to support the job killing head tax, Gonzalez shouldn’t be the victim of sloppy reporting. But I also find it ironic that she sloppily claims I redacted a report I didn’t write and then falsely implied I called the research “fake” (I don’t even quote that word in my blog). So why’d she do this? She’s overplaying the victim card. She’s undoubtedly the victim of Valdez’s reporting, but she’s now using that to go after one of her critics.

What bothers me beyond the sloppiness from Valdez and Gonzalez is that the council will use this report to play victim and push back against the head tax referendum. Please don’t let them succeed. They’re the victims of a bad report at Forbes, but Seattle is the victim of the council’s shameful hatred of the business community.

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