Thursday, October 11, 2007

Quintana's Just Not That Smart, Is He?

I was down at the City Council budget hearing tonight to testify (my testimony starts at 2:13:00 on the Seattle Channel video) in favor of the Seattle Human Service Coalition's visionary proposal to put $12.5 million of this year's $70 million budget surplus toward a housing site acquisition loan fund. Just when things were getting dull, Joe Quintana, the lobbyist for the Seattle Business Coalition got up to speak for his clients.

For those who aren't in the know, the Seattle Business Coalition, says the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce website, is
A broad consortium of business organizations that are committed to a healthy economic climate like the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce, the Neighborhood Chambers Alliance representing 39 neighborhood chambers, the Downtown Seattle Association, the Building Owners and Managers Association, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, the Associated General Contractors, the Greater Seattle Business Association, the Seattle Hotel Association, and more. It will provide a firm voice on policy issues most important to businesses operating in the city of Seattle.
The rule at City hearings is that you get two minutes, but if you're with a group, you get more time.

Quintana let the Council know he was speaking for the coalition and would be taking the extra time, at which point Jean Godden asked that the other members of his group come forward.

Seconds ticked by. No one moved. Apparently, everyone figured Joe could handle it on his own and had gone out for drinks instead. There was an embarrassed silence.

Godden graciously threw him a lifeline. "How about if they raise their hands? We'll accept raised hands," she beamed. Standing in the back, I'm scanning the room with everyone else, not quite believing what I'm seeing. Not a hand in sight.

Just when I thought Quintana was going to suffer a delicious minor humiliation in front of God and everyone, some woman in front raised her hand and went into a long explanation of how she was going to testify but would yield to qualify Joe's "group."

Thus seconded, Quintana recited his list of Business Coalition talking points: developers will go to Bellevue if you ask them to contribute to the community, more cops are needed downtown, businesses are getting shafted by the city, etc. He offered some common sense guidelines for possible cuts, made some councilors smile with a dig at the city's "200 information officers," and finished by mumbling something about non-support of the Mayor's dumb-ass proposal to spend $9 million on a 311 call system so that no one will ever have to use a phone book again.

I was thrilled to see that we have common ground. I hope it's the beginning of something beautiful.

Joe's been getting around lately. Forward Seattle, the Political Action Committee of the Downtown Business Coalition, is named in an ethics complaint to the state Public Disclosure Commission that charges collusion between them and City Council Candidate Venus Velazquez. The PAC made a decision to support Velazquez, who has branded herself as the successor to the Peter Steinbrueck friend of the poor mantle, by sinking their resources into her campaign.

This is odd in the extreme, because Steinbrueck is precisely the last person on the council these guys would support. Aimee Curl at The Seattle Weekly quotes Velazquez: "If they want to play in this race, sure. I'm seeking support in all communities."

Maybe Quintana's a brilliant strategist, and this is like the Log Cabin Republicans throwing a high profile endorsement to a liberal southern Democrat. Fortunately, we were able to secretly record a late night strategy meeting at the Wild Ginger, and have the evidence that clears Venus:
Joe Quintana: OK. Here's how we're gonna run this play. We take all the money we got, and we sink it into one candidate.

Jan Drago: It sounds risky. If I were you, I'd spread the money around.

Quintana: When I want your opinion Jan, I'll ask for it. Velazquez is the lynchpin. We take that bitch down, the council is ours. The downtown interests pour money into her campaign, the left deserts her, Harrell wins. Easy-peasy!

Pat Murakami: (emitting a high pitched giggle) and then I'll file an ethics complaint against her! Quintana, you're a fucking genius!

Kate Joncas: Then it's settled. Dessert anyone?
And that's how it happened. Really.


Trevor said...

If only Venus were that innocent, or the left support of Venus that significant to her political future.

It's more likely that the business community saw this race as the only one that merited their attention, they have tons of money and want to make an impression with their new PAC, and they chose to spend all that money not on who they wanted to win but who they believed would win. Anyway, Harrell was already on board with them. Now what are the chances that Venus will buck them if she's elected?

Bill said...

What distresses me is less the two mentioned candidates -- between whom I see differences and yet who both exceed Councilwoman Godden in promise -- than the players we currently have as millstones in every effort. When we started the Ten Year Plan,e.g., everyone said regarding downtown, "You have to meet Kate Joncas." Well, that dog hunted and came home empty. That business would go for the take-down on anyone who brings up Human Services and/or housing, no surprise. What I bemoan is the current council and those who may be returned thereto. I count Jean as an impression of the late-stage Reagan, and Drago, geeesh! She ought to stop reading her past press clippings and realize she gave up helping those in need with policy and funds ages ago. There was an interesting letter of support from Licata in today's press supporting Della. Maybe with Nick's help David can be salvaged. Yet all-in-all, business-as-usual is yet seeking to make business-as-usual several notches higher. After all, they are the ones suffering, right?

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