ON MONDAY,veteran Seattle P-I reporter and stenographer for the powerful Joel Connelly used his column to engage in two of his favorite, albeit arcane, pastimes: bashing activists, especially left-leaning ones, and whacking Seattle Weekly.
The activist target, this time, was the "Sidran Truth Squad"(social justice advocates who have dogged mayoral candidate Mark Sidran all summer) and, specifically, their performance at the Aug. 27 forum at ACT Theatre. Connelly majestically ruled that the group's protest outside the theater (a symbolic "sit-in" on the sidewalk, protesting Sidran's no-sitting law) was appropriate but that the heckling inside was beyond the pale. Connelly then launched into a rambling discourse on a modern history of misguided heckling, all without noting that his own newspaper had just endorsed the heckled candidate.
Connelly did raise some good points regarding the Truth Squad's effectiveness, and there's another problem, too: Many voters are familiar with Sidran's "civility" initiatives, but very few know about the awful management and union-bashing that characterized his 12 years as city attorney. Highlighting those less publicized, more mainstream issues would probably damage Sidran more. But Connelly's job, in theory, is to assess candidates, not hecklers, and the real embarrassments at the ACT forum occurred onstage.
The race features four leading candidates who are all embarrassments six ways from Sunday. And Connelly thinks heckling is a bad idea? If anything, it was far too limited. Lots of voters would love a chance to jeer the whole lot of them.
Instead, Connelly leaped into jeering Seattle Weekly with a bizarre non sequitur implying that we should use our election endorsements to pick the winners rather than the best candidates. Here's a better idea: Due to the shame the P-I brought on itself and the city by endorsing Paul Schell in the last mayoral election, the paper should take a vow of silence and spare us the cheerleading of the city's chattering classes for Mark Sidran this time around. Their silence would help the city by putting an end to a nasty streak: Since 1863, every time the P-I has endorsed a mayoral candidate, the city has lost.