King County Council Mug.jpg
King County Council
With the King County Council set to vote today on a Memorandum of Understanding regarding Chris Hansen's proposed NBA/NHL arena in SoDo,

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With King County Council Set to Vote on Arena MOU, ArenaSolution Release Chastisizes 'Unethical Smear Campaign' By Arena Foes

King County Council Mug.jpg
King County Council
With the King County Council set to vote today on a Memorandum of Understanding regarding Chris Hansen's proposed NBA/NHL arena in SoDo, ArenaSolution.org issued a blistering press release Sunday claiming "Port of Seattle officials, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 52 (ILWU) and their allies" have engaged in an "unethical smear campaign," aimed at distorting facts and stymieing efforts to get the arena built.

Citing a mailer sent out last week by the organization Save Our SoDo, a mailer which the ArenaSolution.org press release notes was "sent from the address of ILWU operative Max Vekich," SoDo arena proponents say the Port of Seattle and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 52 are deliberately attempting to avoid facts and employ scare tactics in advance of today's important vote. Led by ArenaSolution and including representatives from the Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council and UNITE HERE LOCAL 8, Sunday's press release contends the Port of Seattle and International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 52 are "intentionally spreading misinformation and being dishonest in their recent efforts to defeat the SoDo arena proposal."

As the press release notes:

Faced with an absence of facts from the Port of Seattle, it appears that the Maritime Industrial Commission (MIC) and ILWU have sanctioned and contributed to a deliberately misleading campaign executed by a government agency using public tax dollars.

An organization calling itself Save Our SoDo sent an incendiary anti-arena mailer to citizens last week using blatant scare tactics to oppose the arena proposal without including any substantive information. The mailer features visual imagery of a puppeteer pulling strings and unfounded rhetorical statements with no factual basis such as, "The SoDo arena will bankrupt Seattle Center... (and) put the jobs at the Port of Seattle docks at risk by traffic gridlock..." sent from the address of ILWU operative Max Vekich.

In addition to slamming the recent Save Our SoDo mailer, the press release takes aim at former Seattle City Councilmember Pete Steinbrueck, the Port of Seattle's hired gun who testified in opposition of the proposed SoDo arena in mid-June amid murky circumstances. Steinbrueck testified against the arena June 19, at which time he's been quoted as saying he was only a "concerned citizen," but since then questions have come to light as to whether Steinbrueck's services had been retained prior to that testimony.

As Q13 reported yesterday:

David Gering, the Executive Director of the Manufacturing Industrial Council, told the Port of Seattle in an email that he had retained Steinbrueck to testify. But he told Q13 FOX News that he had only "verbally" retained Steinbrueck, but Steinbrueck voided the agreement prior to testifying.

The press release distributed by ArenaSolution.org is less ambiguous:

In response to questions about his participation, Steinbrueck stated in a Seattle Times article that "No one paid me. No one asked me to go. No one told me what to say. I was there on my own."

Two emails from MIC Executive Director Dave Gering, dated June 18, show that Steinbrueck in fact had been retained by the MIC prior to that "concerned citizen" testimony, and that his role was being coordinated with both the Port of Seattle and local media members.

These documents reveal that Steinbrueck deliberately misled the public, media and elected officials by claiming to be operating independently when he had been retained by the Maritime Industrial Council.

"This should not come down to who has the most lobbyists and how dirty can they play the game," says ArenaSolution.org's Brian Robinson in the release. "Our elected officials should not encourage this type of behavior by giving credence to their claims. Councilmembers should tell them it is time to stop this nonsense and instead explain clearly how basketball games starting at 7 P.M. would impact their daytime operations."

ArenaSolution.org contends the Save Our SoDo mailer "appears intended to intimidate county councilmembers Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert by implying that they are puppets of arena proponents and willing to sacrifice needed public services in deference to the arena."

If nothing else, today, when the council votes, we'll get a chance to see if it's working.

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