Whatever Happened to ‘Hippie Bitch’ Forman?

A where-are-they-now guide to some key WTO players.

Paul Schell, mayor: WTO was sure to draw protesters. But, in Paul Schell’s mind, it was going to be the best of times—unlike Chicago 1968, dissenters would have their voice. It was, in fact, the worst of times—folding under pressure, Schell did a Dick Daley and allowed police to stop a small riot with a bigger one. Heads were bloodied by baton-swinging, pepper-spraying armored cops wearing no identification and not bothering to distinguish activist from anarchist. The planned trade talks and public dissent both were smothered with a layer of tear gas over a 25-block-wide no-protest zone. Glass layered the sidewalks and fumes drifted to the highest condos. Schell lost control of his city and his future. The stench of WTO (and his admission that he had slept through the next riot, the 2001 Mardi Gras trashing in Pioneer Square) lingered over his re- election run—he lost in the 2001 primary, becoming the first incumbent mayor to be unseated since 1956. Today, he prefers to dwell on his few one-term successes, such as the recently completed downtown library, and has returned to his forte as millionaire hotelier and developer. He is chipping in his clout and cash to partner in a 21-story residential tower and Four Seasons hotel on First Avenue. It will face west to the water and sunsets, its back to the past.

Bill Clinton, president: The streets of Seattle were battened down and swept of protesters so Clinton could come to town on the second day. WTO officials may have partly regretted that move. Though the administration was a wanton supporter of globalization, Clinton, heeding the cries of protesters, gave a good bawling out to the delegates, calling on the WTO to enact laws banning trade with nations that fail to protect workers or that allow the employment of children in sweatshops. Clinton, you may have heard, subsequently completed a memorable White House run (the best remembered leg of it being Monica Lewinsky’s), moved to New York, dashed off a 950-page book, had heart surgery, opened his library, and now plans, in four years, to become the first man to redecorate the White House.

Sally Soriano, activist: Soriano represented Seattle-based People for Fair Trade and was one of the first to sound the WTO warning claxon in Seattle. “We are told the WTO is about trade,” she said in the weeks prior to the meeting here. “It really is not. It is about power and the ability of corporations to use that power to dismantle any law that might decrease their profits.” Today, she’s an elected public official—a job she won in part because of her trade and WTO activism: In a campaign statement, she said one of her proudest achievements was “educating the community about U.S. trade policy.” Now she can help educate the educators, having been elected to the Seattle School Board last year.

Michael Moore, filmmaker: In 1999, the Mound of Leftist Sound, then semifamous for his 1989 movie, Roger & Me, and 1997 best seller, Downsize This!, called the Battle of Seattle a turning point. The demonstration “was a massively representative body of Americans (and Canadians and Brits and French, etc.), all of us standing there on the streets between Pine and Pike—Teamsters and turtle lovers, grandparents and Gap clerks, the homeless and computer geeks, high-school students and Alaskans, nuns and Jimmy Hoffa Jr., airplane mechanics and caffeinated slaves from Microsoft. A few were professional protesters, but the majority looked as if this was their first exercise in a constitutionally protected redress of grievances.” Today, of course, Moore is famous as an Oscar-winning moviemaker as well as author, lecturer, and agent provocateur. Now a megamillionaire with his own wing of the Democratic Party, Moore is working on the son of Fahrenheit 9/11, likely starring the dashing George W. Bush. Moore has also found an upside to Bush’s re-election: More people voted for the “most liberal senator,” John Kerry, than voted for Ronald Reagan, and it’s against the law for Dubya to run for president again.

Michael Moore, the other one: The parallel world’s Michael Moore, now the former director-general of the World Trade Organization and former prime minister of New Zealand, continues his crusade for global free trade and development, but in a moderated voice. In the aftermath of Seattle, Moore pushed for more accountability by globalizers. At the fourth WTO Ministerial Conference in Doha, Qatar, in 2001, Moore was the driving force behind a bid for more open, multilateral trade negotiations. He led the WTO until August 2002. In a 2003 speech, in which he talked about “the darkest time in Seattle”—the rioting—he seemed to suggest his hour had passed: “I have a great future behind me,” he said. A prolific author and lecturer, he is also an adjunct professor of law and management at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia.

Brian Derdowski, politician: The then Republican King County Council member was the only local elected official who took to Seattle’s embattled streets as a peacemaker. He left his council seat in 2000 to devote himself to grassroots political work. In a 2003 comeback attempt, Derdowski won the primary but lost the general election, defeated by incumbent and longtime rival David Irons—the man who ousted him in the 1999 election. One major difference: The Derd ran as a Democrat. (Today, Derdowski, of Issaquah, is a management and public affairs consultant with Public Interest Associates.

Jose Bove, the fighting farmer: Led by Bove, considered both a terrorist and a national hero in France where he once protested globalization by driving his tractor into a McDonald’s, Seattle demonstrators chanted “Shut McDonald’s down” and then did just that at a downtown McEatery during the WTO. Bove, a Roquefort cheese farmer from Millau (he illegally smuggled cheese into Seattle and doled it out on the streets), said the fast-food chain was the epitome of the “Mcglobalization” of agriculture. He’s mellowed none. Last year, after he was released from prison for having destroyed genetically modified crops, Bove was barred by a French judge from attending the WTO summit in Mexico. Most recently, Bove led other activists in tearing out rows of bioengineered maize in southwestern France. He vows to cultivate ever-wider natural-grassroots protests.

Pat Davis, port commissioner: A longtime Port of Seattle commissioner, Davis was a leader among local officials who wooed the WTO to Seattle. That may not have been one of her brighter ideas. But it didn’t seem to hurt her politically. She was first elected to the Port of Seattle Commission in 1985 and she’s still there—re-elected in 2001. She has served as president of the commission five times, most recently in 2003. In her outgoing-president remarks in January 2004, she noted the “shock waves” of events in recent years: 9/11, SARS, terror threats, the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, and “1999 when we were all trembling over Y2K.” She didn’t mention that other 1999 trembler.

Local law enforcement: Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper retired in early 2000, taking the fall—appropriately, some said—for the riot; having divorced a year earlier, he sold his Queen Anne condo in 2001 and was last reported residing in the San Juans. Annette Sandberg, Washington State Patrol chief and the first woman in the U.S. to lead a state police agency, resigned in 2001, and today is administrator of the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, appointed by President Bush. Dave Reichert, King County sheriff, went on to two memorable moments: the day his Green River nightmare ended with the capture of serial killer Gary Ridgway and the recent day radio host Dave Ross conceded Reichert had beat him to win the 8th District congressional seat. Mark Sidran, former city attorney, also went on to a career as a political candidate, though less successfully—losing bids for Seattle mayor in 2001 and for state attorney general this year. The Seattle Times lamented his latest defeat and, intending a compliment, called him “the humorist who ran for attorney general.”

Jim Forman, reporter: Among many newsies, the KING-5 journalist is remembered fondly for his live, dramatic broadcasts in the midst of WTO rioting—while wearing a gas mask. A typical report: “Mmmph, mmmph, mmmph, mmmph!” He may have topped that with his supposed comment to a woman who says she was roughed up by Forman in a Capitol Hill encounter during the protests. Allegedly Forman shoved and shook her (he denies it), then called her a “hippie bitch.” Forman continues at KING, where he started in 1990, back when the station had no hippie bitch beat.


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