Attention Timothy Harris: Please see attached; correction needed in story published in the June 27 / July 3 edition....."Attached," is something that looks a lot like a press release. It has all the tell-tale signs: The city stationary, the bold headline, the contact for more information, the business-like style, that "###" thingy at the end that they teach you to do in J school. I might not be a big time pro like Martin McOmber, who used to be a journalist, but, hey, I've been doing this newspaper thing for awhile, and it looks like a press release to me (click to enlarge).
But here's the thing. Neither point in this "Correction" was actually in error. The whole point of this communication, it seems, is to impute error where there was none. As Cydney Gillis, the Real Change journalist whose work is being questioned here so delicately put it, "I feel like I've just been sprayed by a cat."
Meaning, I think, that this is all about claiming territory and making a bad smell.
Cyd's story, Two Opposing Sides vie for Future of Historic Building, published in the June 27 issue of Real Change, describes how the Mayor will soon decide who gets to develop an historic building that once served as an immigrant processing center. One proposal is from a wealthy developer of office buildings, Greg Smith, and the other is from a community organization, the Seattle Chinatown-International District Preservation and Development Authority, which would create workforce housing.
Rick Hooper is quoted as saying that the Mayor's Office is inclined toward Smith's proposal because it winds up being a simpler, and thus more attractive, transaction for the City.
The press release identifies two "misstatements." The first complaint is this:
Federal Government responsibilities under the federal McKinney Homeless Act were met. Availability of the building for homeless related uses was advertised and ultimately there were no takers. As a result the Federal Government turned to the City---the City was interested in facilitating community based ownership and has proceeded with a process to identify a new owner.Well, this is odd, because Cyd says pretty much the same thing.
The mayor’s office called for the proposals in March to facilitate transfer and redevelopment of the INS Building, which closed in 2004 and is currently at the disposal of the federal General Services Administration.Nowhere does Cyd state that "McKinney responsibilities weren't met." She does say, "But both proposals depart from what the 1987 federal McKinney Act calls for – turning retired federal property into housing for the homeless." Which is true. They do.
GSA Realty Specialist Fred Zderic, who is negotiating the transfer with the city, says the agency put out a notice last year to try to meet the McKinney requirement. But the only homeless housing proposal it received was from the Salvation Army, which Zderic says backed out over the high cost of rehabilitating the old structure, which is a protected landmark listed on the National Register.
Next, McOmber's press release takes issue with the accuracy of our reporting as to the current state of the two proposals.
Both proposals submitted in response to the City’s Request for Proposals (RFP) continue under review. The Mayor’s Office is continuing to evaluate and have conversations with SCIDpda, the applicant for workforce housing and an interpretive center and Urban Visions, the proponent of a sustainability center and interpretive center. Contrary to assertions in Real Change’s article, the Mayor sees great strengths in both proposals and is looking for ways to have the process result in a positive outcome for the Community, the City, and the Federal Government.This, again, is strange, because Cyd says that "Mayor Greg Nickels will choose between" the development plans "in the next few weeks," and quotes Hooper saying that the Mayor wants to be “open to all the different possible uses of the building.”
The really odd thing is that the assertion in Cyd's story that the City may be leaning toward Greg Smith is backed up by quotes from Rick Hooper himself:
So, what? Have we misquoted anyone here? No. That's not the assertion. Hooper said it and he's not denying it. But tracks need to be covered and press releases sent.
While Zderic believes the city is leaning toward the PDA proposal, Hooper says that route would involve the city taking charge of the property and leasing it to the agency – a more complicated transaction to which the mayor’s office appears less inclined, according to Hooper.
Smith’s plan “is the best route to take for the sale to go to a private developer without any long-term city ownership,” Hooper says. “We envision a simultaneous closing,” he says, in which the property would immediately pass from the city to Smith and his company, Urban Visions.
So here's how it looks to me. Hooper said the city was leaning toward Smith, Cyd reported that, and Marty McOmber, who used to be a journalist, is using his skills to undermine the credibility of our reporting and blow some smoke for his boss.
Show me the "misstatement."
All I see here is one bureaucrat getting caught talking out of turn, and another bureaucrat working to cover his tracks.