March 21, 2019
Dear Mayor Durkan:
I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, but you really blew it on Tuesday when you were asked about your response to the KOMO News feature, “Seattle Is Dying”. I was very disappointed in you. How can you be so out of touch with reality? If you really believe what you said, I question whether you ever walk the streets of downtown, and for that matter, walk or drive many other areas of our city.
You acknowledged that you did see the KOMO special. Then you went on to say that the show was not representative of Seattle; that most of the city is thriving, and I quote. “It’s unfortunate that it focused on a very limited part of Seattle. I think if you went to any neighborhood in Seattle today and told the story from Alki to Seward Park, up north to Seattle Center, you're going to see a city that's thriving with people who care, that's welcoming and diverse.” You cannot be serious!
The “Seattle is Dying” show had clips from Ballard, Magnolia, Aurora Bridge, Downtown, and Capitol Hill, among others. And Downtown, the “front porch” of the City where I reside, is a mess, as I can personally verify from my regular walks all over the downtown area. Matt Markovich was right when he said that “Mayor Durkan has a utopian view of Seattle”.
From my view, you were defiant on TV and showed no compassion for the people suffering and dying on the streets. Instead you made excuses and showed a callous disregard for human life when you said: “the City of Seattle controls most of the shelter capacity but the mental health and the addictions dollars are with the county and the state.” So, in other words, not MY Job.
It seems to me that you consider street people as simply collateral damage, used to justify the “money grab” known as citywide MHA to raise money for affordable housing under the guise of solving homelessness; when the root cause of most homelessness is drug use and mental health issues, as the KOMO feature clearly demonstrated.
It was also telling that not a single City Council Member would comment on the show. No Police Chief. No City Attorney. No County Executive. What message does that send? Only one King County Councilmember, Kathy Lambert, would comment, and she thought the show was very good and accurate.
This show has had over 2 million viewers so far, and tens of thousands of comments, the vast majority of which were very supportive of the show.
I believe you owe KOMO and all the citizens of Seattle an apology for your behavior in this matter. And most important, you and your staff need to remember that an honest look at the real problems is the first step to solving them! I really want you to succeed as Mayor, but Tuesday night could go down as your Greg Nickels snowstorm moment unless you quit playing Seattle cheerleader and get about the business of solving this mess.
Downtown Resident Cathy Leschen