A row of police officers was standing outside the Tom Carr/Pete Holmes debate today at the West Seattle Golf Course. They were there to wave signs and hand out flyers in support of City Attorney Carr--a show of force that the West Seattle Democratic Women, which sponsored the event, found a little disturbing. "That seems like voter intimidation," murmured Beth Grieser, the organization's vice-chair. But they might as well have been there to keep the bitter rivals from breaking out in a fist-fight. It was getting close. "He called me a liar!" Carr exclaimed at one point after Holmes said the City Attorney was sneakily spreading false information about him.
It often seems hard to cut through the enmity between these fellows and understand the issues that are important to voters. One senses that, with a little mediation counseling, these seemingly decent men could get past their aggrieved feelings and find they're not that far apart on a number of issues. But one significant point of diversion emerged today--the role of domestic violence victim advocates.Holmes articulated his idea of taking these advocates out of the city attorney's office to make them truly independent. The problem, he said, is that while they are supposed to represent the interests of victims as prosecutors push forward their cases, the advocates may help obtain "no-contact" orders (forbidding contact with spouses or partners) that victims don't want and which may, particularly in families that are economically fragile, be harmful.
Seattle Weekly explored how this works in the wake of the arrest of City Councilmember Richard McIver on a domestic violence charge, and his wife's vociferous assertion that her call to 911--and the subsequent no-contact order imposed--was a mistake.
Carr, however, dismissed Holmes' idea, saying it "really scares me." Refusing to concede that there might be a problem with either no-contact orders or domestic violence victim advocates under the sway of prosecutors, he equated the notion with not taking domestic violence seriously. And he revealed a new fact about his hardscrabble past, which we explored in an earlier profile: His late father was not only alcoholic but abusive as well. "The police would come to my house from time to time. In those days, the police would tell my dad to settle down." That, he implied, was not good enough.
When I've talked to Carr previously, he seemed more open to hearing criticism of these advocates. Not with Holmes voicing them, apparently.