At least Paul Schell managed a graceful exit.
The outgoing mayor faced the Seattle media for the final time last Wednesday, with his wife, Pam, at his side. Schell's post-mayoral agenda: take a month off (a Mexican vacation, plus some quality time at his Whidbey Island home), then get to work as a strategic adviser to Columbia Hospitality. That company not only manages the Schell-owned Inn at Langley but also runs the Bell Street Conference Center and the World Trade Center, two Port of Seattle properties developed during Schell's tenure on the Port Commission.
As you might have guessed from the format, there were few major revelations during Schell's last go-round with the press corps. The outgoing mayor assured reporters that Seattle's economy will recover, praised the civic investments made during his term, and nominated his public appearances as his favorite part of the job. "Just by showing up, you can help lift [people's] spirits," he says.
About the World Trade Organization conference, which led to street disturbances, Schell merely noted, "If I had to do it all over again, I wish they wouldn't have come." On the sluggish police response during the Mardi Gras riots, the mayor's comment was "I think what they've learned is better to move sooner than later." On the weaknesses of his administration, the mayor said the most common criticism he received is that he wasn't political enough.
Well, he got that last one right.
Like many of Schell's press critics, I ended up liking the guy by the end of his term. Unlike many politicians, Schell wasn't concerned with settling scores or taking credit for the work of others. Yet as his classically laconic, yet deeply unsatisfying, answers to the WTO and Mardi Gras questions show, the mayor retains his knack for always knowing the wrong thing to say, which crippled his political career.
Yet, he still leaves behind an enviable record of getting city money out to the neighborhoods through a trio of ballot issues and a tripling of the popular Neighborhood Matching Fund. "If you look at [the job] as a chance to serve, it was wonderful," he says.