Costs be damned. In our never-ending search for truth and justice, we demanded all background records used to make what the mayor calls his "exceptional" appointment of his longtime political ally Anne Levinson to a seat on the Municipal Court, for which she has no experience and did not undergo a panel screening. Was she exceptionally qualified, we wondered, or an exception to the qualification standards? The mayor sent us the following background material, 15 pages at 15 cents per page:
Levinson's five-page r鳵m頲ecounting her lengthy governmental career, her efforts on behalf of downtown businesses, and her tenure as deputy mayor under Norm Rice, during which, she says, she saved taxpayers $100 million by urging the purchase of Key Tower as City Hall—which Schell has been trying to unload since he took office.
A two-page mayoral press release announcing the judicial appointment of Levinson based on her "breadth of experience" in government including her work as chair of the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission. Levinson, 40, said she "wanted to be a judge for some time."
Copy of a four-page "confirmation package" sent to the City Council that includes appointment forms and notes from the police department confirming it reviewed Levinson's background (she passed).
A bad photocopied photo of Levinson.
And, oddly, one three-page copy of a critical O. Casey Corr column from The Seattle Times, written after the mayor announced his stunning appointment. Corr wondered if Levinson was being appointed for her political connections. Muni court Judge Fred Bonner thought so. He described the selection as "patronage."
That was it. No strategy papers, pro-con debate, or outside feedback.
Thankfully, we have a system of checks and balances: The City Council had to approve the nomination. So we took our never-ending search to council member Tina Podlodowski's Public Safety Committee the other day.
Podlodowski praised Levinson.
The nominee said the court "plays a critical role in the lives of the people of our community."
Sue Donaldson praised Levinson.
The nominee said the existing court has "done a terrific job."
Martha Choe praised Levinson.
The nominee admitted she lacked trial experience but thought judges "should be leaders outside the courtroom," too.
Richard McIver praised Levinson.
The nominee said people "do not have to worry about whether the system is discriminatory when they're in my court."
McIver responded: "As you have demonstrated." He didn't mention where.
Deputy Mayor Maude Daudon praised Levinson for her "expertise as a judge," not mentioning she'd never been one. Of Levinson's exception, Daudon said the mayor promises not to make a "habit" of unscreened judicial appointments.
Committee approval given. End love-in.
Two weeks ago, our never-ending search ended, too. The full City Council gave Levinson the thumbs-up, rendering our question moot. The exceptional candidate is now the exceptional judge.