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Meet Mike McGinn- The Anti-Tunnel Dude

September 29, 2009

It’s safe to say hell hath frozen over- Mike McGinn sat down with me last week for a 1 on 1 interview.  Known for being the guy against the tunnel (to replace the AWV) McGinn is neck and neck with his opponent Joe Mallahan as they race to the election finish line- hoping to grab your vote along the way.  McGinn asked to meet at a downtown coffee shop, which at times makes the interview more challenging to hear, so, apologies for that.  Here we go…

Who is Mike McGinn?

Change, “new politics” and the decision to run for Mayor (and not city council)

Future Seattle- and a look back at the Welfare Queen (hey gurl!)… and Van Jones, too

That darn tunnel option- and all the semantics that come along with it

Seattle Schools- Mike has been running with Education as one of his main pillars- so what is he really prepared to do?

I also asked him about the same levy program scenario that I asked Mallahan in his interview.


Pt 2

Pt 3

McGinn discusses the pros and cons of the current Youth Violence Prevention Initiative

McGinn on his [former] non-profit “Great City”

Pt. 1

Pt. 2

McGinn on Equity

There you have it.  Mike McGinn [finally] in his own words.

My impression?  As I said after the Mallahan interview, you don’t need me to tell you who to vote for, so I’m not going to do that here.

I’m planning on comparing/contrasting my experiences is a later post, so I’m not going to get into too much detail here, but I will say that I was very surprised at McGinn’s reaction and answer to my question of what his personal working definition of “equity” is.  As you no doubt notice throughout the interview, we were discussing topics where equity is an issue in Seattle.

The first thing he said was “whoa”.  What I asked for was a definition but his answer was more of a vision of a perfect society, and not a personal belief system or one that he can extend to the management and leadership of a city.  Equity is an issue.  Yes, everyone should have a nice car, yes, everyone should have a great school to go to- but they don’t.

Mallahan’s answer wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but it has substance- he too thought about it when in the moment and gave an answer that had to do with how to ensure equity.

I mean, if you can’t define equity can you define inequities?

It’s clear that McGinn has a lot of pride in what he has accomplished personally and professionally, and in his community, which is north Seattle.  It’s why I asked him about the organization he started, “Great City”, and he mentioned it more than once in our discussion.

What has great cities done in south Seattle?  It sounded to me as if he was saying that they wanted to outreach south and they wanted to be utilized by neighborhoods with great needs…but I never got a list or an example of one, which is just more of an observation and not a condemnation.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Seattle voter permalink
    September 29, 2009 5:58 pm

    Great that he sat down for an interview with you. He’s got my vote!

  2. September 30, 2009 9:47 am

    I haven’t listened to it all, but it sounds like you had a much different take on his answers than I did. For example, in the clip you label as “McGinn on his [former] non-profit Great City” he describes bringing volunteerism to the city, and that his south end strategy is to have town halls and hear from residents. Mallahan struck me as much more top-down, change what government employees do. I think both ideas have merit, but those are very different approaches.

  3. Jackson permalink
    September 30, 2009 1:53 pm

    His response to the equity question: sounds like he doesn’t have a clue.

  4. September 30, 2009 4:21 pm

    “whoa”… *dead* He said…whoa? As in like “omfg my mind is blown?!” Seriously?!

    This guy totally failed to grasp what a DEFINITION of equity is- yeah, I hear a rosy picture being painted, but this guy wants to be MAYOR? Noooooo.

    It bugs the shit out of me that other media outlets attack Mallahan for anything he says on race, yet they don’t even blink at what McGinn does or DOES NOT say, and they give him CREDIT for being “sensitive” because he has brown kids- uhhh, no people, HE’S STILL WHITE!


  5. Kate Martin permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:41 pm

    Mike is a lawyer / lobbyist who likes to pick fights and leave roadkill. He thrives on this. In doing so, he personifies the worst the bureaucracy has to offer and the status quo persists with yet another mask of insincerity. He is one of the hardest people to get along with that I have ever worked with as an activist. I find him very sexist as well. Condescending at best. His wife raises the kids while he goes to meetings, gets nothing done, and for most of the last 10 years has somehow found folks to give him a paycheck while he’s MIA on the workfront. He’s currently unemployed and in reality has not really been employed over most of the last decade. As a result of all the meetings he goes to (where he arrives always late), nothing comes of anything. Meanwhile he pisses people off left and right.

    He so loves to hear himself talk that it was always embarrassing to me to have guests at a community council meeting and listen to him hog the agenda and airtime puffing himself up and preening as he arrived half way or 3/4 through presentations. Completely disgusting. I’m sorry if I paint a bleak picture, but it’s the truth and I lived it here in the Greenwood community for over 10 years.

    He likes to use the parks levy (that “he got passed” as he likes to say…knowing Seattle has never said no to parks) as a claim to fame. This was part of his campaign, but his minions didn’t get that. The levey was and is very inequitable. As a planner, I just wanted the parks and open space gap report and a levy that responded to it. I’d like that gap report to qualify and quantify facilities geographically and demographically. Instead it was like a food fight of backroom deals without equity.

    Since the parks superintendent works for the mayor, Mike knew the Parks Dept couldn’t be involved when the mayor said no parks levy. So in Mike’s disgusting style of strategy, there was in lieu of the actual dept, a city council “special committee” that was the worst Seattle government has to offer. Nothing to be proud of. Someone might want to ask him about that. Neighborhood planning going on right now is very inequitable. He’s not involved. Transportation is inequitable. Those are his cronies since they got him some cheap ass ugly sidewalks around his house that he refused to look at in terms of life cycle costing of the cheapened materials and shoddy installation (by his friends at SDOT).

    He may have the doe eyed neophytes convinced, but he’s a disaster. Always has been.

  6. heather permalink
    September 30, 2009 10:10 pm

    Whoa. Weak.

  7. Lisa permalink
    October 2, 2009 6:35 pm

    Just think, the trees have no rights either, and you know that has to do with the texture of their skin. And notice McGinn didn’t mention anything about equity for the trees.

    Come to think of it, my hamster has no rights. Neither does my lawn.

    The rights you take are the rights that belong to you. When you wait for others to hand you your rights, you become a victim of your own stupidity.

  8. October 3, 2009 11:33 am

    Did “Lisa” just compare minorities and equity issues to…hampsters? So, she doesn’t think we’re more important that hampsters? Further it would appear she doesn’t think that equity is an issue in Seattle or anywhere. She when systemic problems impact minorities IN SPITE of their efforts, it’s their fault, is that it, because they’re Black and they have a bad attitude? And I’m guessing that “Lisa” is a McGinn supporter- which is really typical of the mcGinn machine. Elitist people who live life ignorant to the realities of those who don’t look like they do. I am so furious that I just got compared to a flipping hampster. I guess MLK was a “victim” of his own mind then too, right? Thank you Lisa, for showing and proving just how racially IGNORANT people is Seattle REALLY are. Maybe then, a woman who is raped should blame herself for not fighting back hard enough to prevent the rape. Maybe then, black men who are shot 42 times in front of their homes for HOLDING A HAIR BRUSH were also to blame. I could go on for days. People say that Mallahan is “race baiting”, but damn, McGinn supporters and volunteers embrace some of the harshest racial ideals I’ve seen in a WHILE.

  9. October 3, 2009 11:35 am

    OH and BTW, a HAMPSTER is a piece of PROPERTY. When was the last time BLACK PEOPLE were personal PROPERTY. “Ain’t I a woman?” Bet Lisa doesn’t know who said THAT! Oooooh I’m PISSED.

  10. Gyasi Ross permalink
    October 3, 2009 11:51 am

    Wow, you guys are trying really hard to turn this into a racial issue. Only in politically correct Seattle. I don’t think anyone said anything specifically about “black people” or “property”–Luther Vandross said that a heart is a house—OOOOOOOO, a house is a piece of personal property!! Black people have hearts!!! Was he talking about slavery????

    Good interview, Sable.

  11. Sable permalink
    October 3, 2009 11:57 am

    Comparing minorities to hampsters- not a good look. Horrible analogy. Hampsters are property. A lawn is property. To mock minorities as such- yeah, that’s kinda ignorant, as was the comparrision to the texture of trees to the color of skin. McGinn of course, never uttered the word “slavery” in the interview. We were talking about his definition of equity (because equity IS an issue in Seattle, in jobs, housing, criminal justice, etc)and his definition was kinda lame- but Lisa successfully took it to the next level by basically saying equity is not an issue and folks that are on the wrong side of the haves and have nots only have themselves to blame because they focus unnecessarily on their own race. A jumping of the shark, I thought.

    Thanks Gyasi

  12. Gyasi Ross permalink
    October 3, 2009 12:23 pm

    Yeah, but the implication of when the last time black folks (never mentioned) were personal property (also never mentioned) was that of “slavery.” And that’s just silly.

    Once again, was Luther talking about slavery??

    Great song, BTW.

  13. Sable permalink
    October 3, 2009 1:19 pm

    LOL Gyasi, c’mon man. We were talking about equity and it’s impact on the lives of minorities and the disadvantaged. Black people are minorities. So are women. Olivia, who pointed out “black people” appears to be both, thus, she appears to be impacted by equity and social justice (and systemic) issues, as wel all are (black AND white). Lisa, on the other hand, broached equity as if it were a non issue. She also pointed out race and skin color. She then compared issues of equity to things that are, well, studpid- trees, animals, things that it just so happens, are items of property. It’s not a stretch. It’s not even a leap. Lisa asserts that minorites should just take what is there’s- is that realistic, of course not. Is it the fault of minorities that they are discrimated against? Of course not. To belittle the plight of people by comparing them to hampsters and trees- now that’s just crappy and a sign of someone who is deeply ignorant- if indeed her thinking is truly that simple.

  14. October 3, 2009 1:22 pm

    I’m still not clear why WE (yes, WE, people, minorities) all of a sudden were compared to trees and animals. Why the issues that impact our lives which DON’T influence white people, were chalked up to basically being self created situations that we could easily avoid if only we got out minds right and went out there and snatched the American dream. That’s the most pathetic and insulting thing I’ve read all week. Wait, no Nas’s open letter was pretty shitty too.

  15. Rights for All permalink
    October 3, 2009 1:25 pm

    Call me crazy, or hey, maybe I’m just playing the race card like all good black people do, but I read Lisa’s comments as Olivia did, and found them highly offensive and way off the mark. Trees? Hampsters? The texture of the bark? To quote McGinn, “whoa”.

    Better yet, let’s quote Venus Williams: “Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re NOT after me.”

  16. Heather G. permalink
    October 3, 2009 2:43 pm

    Equity, hampsters, trees, and race; oh my! What the hell happened here?! Lisa is an Iiiiiidiot. I know it’s not nice to call names, but damn, that was just an idiot move.

    I find it interesting, or maybe the better word is disturbing, that supporters of a Mayoral candidate are so…beligerent when it comes to race. First they’re screaming about race baiting, or they’re trying to intimidate Sable (and going blatantly racial when doing it and NEVER APOLOGIZING for it)and yet they consider themselves progressive and concerned with the future of Seattle.

    Which Seattle? North of the ship canal?

    I know people that support McGinn, and people that support the other dude, and I am squarely undecided. I do know though, that it is much harder for me to carry on a conversation with those who support McGinn because they are always throwing racial “stuff” in my face and attributing it to Malahan, yet they NEVER address what McGinn says or doesn’t say, they never address the conduct, behavior or rhetoric of his supporters. So it’s like the harm they inflict (or the chaos)they see no reason to be accountable for. Didn’t we just have that as a Mayor? Someone who only cared about a select few.

    I’m not saying the T mobile dude is the way to go, but McGinn and his peeps leave a nasty taste in my mouth.

    Think I’ll go gargle on this one too.

  17. Solidarity Sister permalink
    October 3, 2009 3:00 pm

    Sable, I know you’re much more gracious and thoughtful than anyone of the McGinn supporters will ever give you credit for, but personally I think that what you should really write about it your PERSONAL experience with McGinn’s camp.

    Voters have a right to know about their efforts to intimidate you and the fact that they were tied right into people that work for the camaign, particularly the White woman working out of the South End office. I saw everything she did on twitter (even though she deleted it after a day or so) and it was such a low blow. That she took it racial just brought it to a whole new level. When I think about “Lisa”, that’s who I think about- people who work directly for McGinn and share these beliefs. And as a sidenote, maybe you should check “Lisa’s” IP address against the others you have. Maybe “Lisa” isn’t “Lisa” at all.

    Think about it.

  18. Sable permalink
    October 3, 2009 3:42 pm

    Deep cleansing breaths,ya’ll. It’s Saturday, after all.

  19. October 20, 2009 1:01 am

    I listened to the entire interview and then I listened to parts of the interview. And I tried to picture the person speaking as a Mayor of a city with many communities, each wanting their needs met.

    I did not hear a leader who could see common needs and unique needs and know what to do about that. I heard a man speak with as someone already said with great pride about the northend and admit he left before figuring out how to meld or at least align what is great north of the ship canal with what is great to the south.

    He thinks that Maple Leaf residents are better organized than South end communities. The organized southend is not deficient it is different. We organize differently and his not being able to include the southend until we organize like Maple Leaf is what makes him the lesser candidate.

    Actually the South end is the better organized because we learned how to live together. What occurs that detracts from equity (that word that reduced him to a babbling idiot) is the thinking he and so many others bring.

    Equity begins for you people when you start acting and being like Maple Leaf and then this will be a great city.

    What is so difficult about communicating with communities that have people living together; rich and poor and all those many colors, and the names, and clothing, and all those cars in one household, and accents, and attitudes, and religions, and churches, and synagogues and temples, and mosques all within the same zip code and what is up with all these stores selling foreign calling cards, and whose kids are those anyway standing on the corner, and is that a chop shop or a real body and fender garage? And are carwashes really covers for drug sales, and what did you say the name of that organization is?

    And,in a conversation with James Kelly, and yes, I am endorsed by Dawn Mason, and Brother Bob, oh yeah, its Uncle Bob, is he Rep. Santo’s real uncle? And what was that he was going to do about schools? And while President of the Sierra Club, why exactly was he not able to keep trees from being cut down in Holly Park so children there could breathe air conditioned by the trees? Oh, yes they could save a tree in the middle of the watershed to save some species. And why does his Sierra club have millions of dollars and the Community Coalition for Environmental Justice have to shut their doors? His answer, they never asked me for any money? Well maybe they did but not in the way that the Maple Leaf people knew to ask in his “Great City”

    It was anyone but Nickels, now it is anyone but McGinn. I have to go, we have work to do over the next two weeks.

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