Mayor McGinn Criticizes Seattle Weekly for Not Doing Something He Didn't Ask Us to Do

According to KUOW, last week I refused Mayor Mike McGinn's request to update the numbers in this story about underage sex trafficking. That's half right. Here's why it's also half wrong.

Last Tuesday, mayoral spokesperson Aaron Pickus e-mailed me to ask if we'd update the underage-prostitution arrest numbers we'd provided in this map that ran alongside the story--numbers that came directly from the Seattle Police Department.

It was more than a little confusing to see the mayor's office ask us to correct a mistake that originated with its police department. When I said as much, Pickus agreed and recused himself from the conversation, saying there were "too many cooks in the kitchen," then asked me to set the record straight directly with SPD.

I did that. Promptly. The change to the graphic was made by Wednesday night. And the result was an update (not a correction) of the arrest numbers, a satisfied police department, and a statement from SPD that made it clear where the confusion began.

"Shame on us," said SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb. "We should have given you the right numbers the first time."

Yet even after all of that--and even after a Friday-night phone conversation with Pickus, the first one he had granted in 48 hours, in which he assured me that his boss no longer had a beef with SPD's bad numbers--McGinn continues to say that we're "minimizing Seattle's child-prostitution problem."

So let's get this out of the way once and for all. Here's what McGinn told KUOW he wants us to tell our readers: In 2010, Seattle police arrested 81 people for child prostitution, more than double the number from the year before.

That's true. But its exclusion from our updated map wasn't born out of some sinister attempt to continue (in McGinn's preferred term) low-balling the numbers. It didn't make it into the update because we only listed data for 10 years, 2000-2009, because most police departments don't yet have stats for last year and the graphic featured information from multiple cities (we surveyed 37 nationally).

That's not "minimizing" the problem. But this is McGinn doing the opposite.

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