Jan 23, 2021
Today Crystal is joined by a new co-host for our weekly show, the inimitable Marcus Green! Crystal and Marcus get in to the inauguration, how we need to continue to be involved in policy after the election, the Seattle Police Department’s response to officers who attended the Capitol Hill insurrection, and the refusal of some police officers to wear masks – even when at a hospital.
A full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.
Follow Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii, and follow Marcus Harrison Green at @mhgreen3000. Learn more about Hacks & Wonks at www.officialhacksandwonks.com.
Hear how to pronounce Vice President Kamala Harris’ name here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYkZkpLQUS0
Learn about why it’s important to pronounce names correctly here: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210108-the-signals-we-send-when-we-get-names-wrong
Read Seattle Times coverage about the SPD officer’s refusal to wear a mask here: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/crime/spd-reaffirms-mask-guidelines-after-hospital-incident-that-blew-up-on-twitter/
Check out The South Seattle Emerald’s continuing coverage of the upcoming Seattle mayoral race here: https://southseattleemerald.com/tag/seattle-mayoral-race/
Read guest Marcus Harrison Green’s Seattle Times column here: https://www.seattletimes.com/author/marcus-green/
Crystal Fincher: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hacks and Wonks. I'm your host, Crystal Fincher. On this show, we talk with Political Hacks and Policy Wonks to gather insight into state and local politics and policy through the lens of those doing the work and provide behind-the-scenes perspectives on politics in our state. Today, we're continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week with a guest cohost.
Welcome to the program today's co-host and publisher of the excellent South Seattle Emerald and columnist with the Seattle Times, Marcus Harrison Green. Welcome Marcus!
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:00:31] It is such a pleasure to be here, Crystal. Thank you so much for having me. This has been a long time coming and I'm glad that I'm here.
Crystal Fincher: [00:00:39] Absolutely a long time coming. I'm such a fan of your work of the South Seattle Emerald. I have just followed you for so long - your writing, your columns, everything that you're doing. And now the South Seattle Emerald is a resource that I and so many people refer to every day for critical information about our community. So I am just thrilled that you are here. And so what happened this week? Just a couple things, right? Not too much. Pretty low-key, I guess. So starting off, what, what kind of everyone was paying attention to for so long - the culmination of the 2020 election. This week we had the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
So there was a lot surrounding that - I guess, your thoughts on the events of the day? You know, we were kind of holding our breath to see if there was going to be any violence that day. Lots of people have feelings about, Okay, so what does this actually mean in terms of changes of policy moving forward? As you are absorbing this, I guess, what did you take from the inauguration and what are your views on what lies ahead?
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:01:51] Yeah, I mean, I, it's a small thing, but it was - I was like, I was hoping that the Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who swore in Kamala Harris, would have gotten her name correct.
Crystal Fincher: [00:02:04] It's not a small thing, and it is a significant thing and -
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:02:08] It is a very, very significant thing. You're watching it and you're like, Ooh, 'cause you're seeing it in her eyes. It's just like, but you know, but other than that, right, the rest of the day in terms of the inauguration day seemed to go off pretty much without a hitch relative to what many people were expecting. Like, I'll say this. I mean, I certainly was on alert for any violence that was going to take place, but it, you know, it's really was a fairly low-key day in the sense that it was somewhat normative, right? And, and I think that was - I think that was the main message that they were trying to convey, right? I mean, as much as I've been critical over our past presidents and heck, this one, that we are newly - our new president as well. If there was sort of something about - and look, all inaugurations are propaganda, let's be honest. But there was something about, right - seeing all the past presidents there together. You know, obviously it's a photo-op, but sort of this message of, Okay, we've gotten through sort of this one bout of chaos, most likely to go through another bout of chaos, but at the very least it was like, we can be calm and assured and breathe at least a sigh of relief for 24 hours. And I think that's really kind of what the nation needed regardless of, you know, what, where you fall along the spectrum.
Crystal Fincher: [00:03:42] Yeah, I agree. I mean, one of the, just kind of huge picture hallmarks of democracy is the peaceful transfer of power. And this has not been a completely peaceful transfer of power, but there is something to just the, the ceremony of handing off power. This is not something that - I think we've seen - we can take for granted. So now that we've been able to move on, I mean, I certainly saw a lot of conversations from people going, You know, there, there are some problematic histories and issues that we have with, you know, Joe and Kamala. This isn't going to be any different and why is this worthy of celebration? And I think that we can hold space for multiple things at one time when we look at this inauguration. Certainly, people may have issues - and justified issues - with some of Kla Harris's policies and Joe Biden's policies. I am one of them.
And , but I do think that there is space and it is okay and, and shoot - with all we've had to endure, it is okay to, to take a moment of joy and celebration and commemoration to mark us seeing a, you know for me, certainly - a Black woman , an Indian woman being inaugurated as the Vice President of the United States of America. This is something we have never seen before and, and little boys and girls growing up now can say, Oh, this is something that, that is normal. This is in my realm of possibility. I see someone there and can put into context that they belong there. It does not seem foreign anymore and, and, you know, certainly they're going to be facing a lot of obstacles and, and everything that is the challenge of running federal government and trying to move policy. But I do think that - and also celebrate that - Wow, one, we just got rid of a nightmare and you know, at least we are not going to be continuing to head full speed down that road. Now we're gonna, you know, push in the right direction as hard and as fast as we need to? To be determined. But for that day, I am, am with everyone else and saying, let's pause and celebrate. Let's feel this joy.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:06:08] Right. It's more of a - it's almost like a holiday of catharsis, right? In the sense of, No, it's going to take a much more than, right, an hour and a half inauguration to heal true. But at the very least, it's sort of a, Hey, we can stop. And we can just pause, and we can reflect, and we can - I mean, I hate to admit this - but like I found myself singing with the Garth Brooks, you know, during the Amazing Grace rendition. And I'm just , you know, I had to almost catch myself. I'm like, You know what? Whatever, right? I mean, I mean, this is a time to invite a level - yes, of healing. But let's be honest though - a level also of accountability, you know, in our country. Right. And you can't have healing without accountability.
Crystal Fincher: [00:06:59] Right.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:06:59] And you know one of the things and look - I think, quite frankly, the, you know, Biden's speech - it was a little overblown with some of the praise and, and the lauding of it - I think Chris Wallace called it "the best he had ever heard." I'm like, come on.
Crystal Fincher: [00:07:12] Oh my gosh.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:07:14] But I mean, it was, it was definitely better than his predecessor's.
Crystal Fincher: [00:07:17] Yes.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:07:18] But , right - exactly.
Crystal Fincher: [00:07:20] And I think that's - that's an example of moving forward - like, okay, we have to recalibrate the bar that we have. The previous bar from the previous president was, you know, underground. And so, you know, yes, it is better than that, but, but how can you not be? And so it's kind of this recalibration of, of the standards that we hold people to. And, and also, yes, it is better, but that doesn't mean it's where we need it to be. And we do need to continue to advocate and push and be involved to stay engaged and hold this administration accountable. Just because someone has the D next to their name and you voted for them does not mean that, that they are above all criticism and critique, they don't need to be called in or called out - they absolutely do. And that's how we actually get progressive policy - that I'm a fan of, obviously - progressive policy. But that's how we get policy passed - is by continuing to hold people accountable and making sure they hear our voices.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:08:24] Well and I think, yeah. And I, and I think to your point in what a lot of criticism has been lobbed already, right, at Biden and Harris for some of their past policy misdeeds - you know, everything from, you know, helping shepherd the crime deal to when Harris was the AG over there in, in California, essentially wanting to jail folks for - for parents, for truancy, if you will. I think that at the end of the day it's also like, look, politicians aren't static, right? They're reactionaries. And so the thing - the thing that they react to, right, is their constituency and their base and to movements, right? And so at the end of the day, it's up to us to hold folks accountable who are supposedly on our side, right? I mean, that wasn't that of the prior administration. That is at least ostensibly this administration. And so I think it has to be pushed, right? It's that old apocryphal story of FDR - he's talking to somebody , you know, from a, I want to say it's a labor union - and he says, you know what? I agree with everything that you said, but you gotta go make me do it. You gotta make me do it, right? And so I think, you know, we're in this position right now with Biden-Harris - we gotta go make them do the things that we think are the best possible things in terms of, you know, progressive legislation and moving this country in a direction that , you know, is equitable for everyone.
Crystal Fincher: [00:09:41] Completely agreed. And, and, you know, on that same vein of staying engaged, it's not just on the federal level - the local level counts too. And, and a lot of the changes that people are really pushing for across the board, and certainly that protests are focused around, and that will bring equity in all of the areas that we need to - require action at the local level. And, and the City of Seattle is a perfect example. And we have a police department in Seattle that refuses to take a seat, really , and continues to stay making headlines for all of the wrong reasons. And, and the community being engaged is the reason why - why we're also able to, to have these issues and items surfaced and why we're one of the only cities in the country- like one of three, I think it is - who actually reduced the funding of the police department. But I mean, this week we saw - you know, more officers were in DC during the "Stop the Steal" rally, which just the premise of the event is so problematic.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:10:51] Yeah, we thought it was only two. And now it's five. It's yeah.
Crystal Fincher: [00:10:54] Now it's five that we know of so far. And so, you know, this is a continuing challenge. More officers were there. You have a police guild chief - head - who is, you know, Mike Solan, who just was called on to resign by several members of the community and the City Council because of his false and inflammatory statements about an insurrection , an anti-democratic attempted coup. So, so do we trust this mindset with policing? I mean, the structure of the department is something that we can certainly spend a lot of time, and have before, talking about. But my goodness, just on a daily basis -
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:11:39] Yeah that is like an absolute, no - I mean, it's been that way forever. I'm a lifelong Seattleite. I mean, it's been that way since I've lived here - so, which has been all my life. Goodness. I - where to begin - I think the press conference that interim Police Chief Diaz held earlier in the week where he said you know, that he would fire any police officers that were, that were proven to have been involved in the actual insurrection, in riots. And then he sort of goes on to say, But you know, if they were just there to protest and, you know, and had the belief that the election was stolen, then, you know, that's, that's a different thing. I'm thinking like - these are public servants who are tasked, right - they are public servants tasked with protecting people. I would want to say, could they at least have some, like, I don't know, relation to reality? I mean, that, that bothers me - that bothers me that they would think that this - the election is stolen. I mean, that, that, that shows their character and that shows right, also their thought process. I don't want somebody like that with the license to kill. I'm just sorry.
Crystal Fincher: [00:12:50] A hundred percent. And, and to be clear, not just stolen, but stolen by Black people fraudulently voting - and in a mass conspiracy across the country to upend an election. Like that - and so all of the Black people's and Black areas' votes should be invalidated. That is where they're at. And so I don't feel comfortable with that as yet another thing that we are contending with and, and I think we have to address - we absolutely have to address this culture. We can't act like that has nothing to do with how they would be performing their job. It has everything to do with how they would be performing their job. And they are taking this direction from someone who has said "it's okay to rough them up a bit," who has encouraged police violence, who has excused murder from white people and from police officers, and has advocated for the death of Black people who are innocent and just existing. So it absolutely has to do with how they police and, and the attitude that they take.
And this is on the heels of other news this week, that as we've all seen numerous times - Seattle police officers , several of them, many of them, refuse to wear masks when this is required, when they are interacting with several members of the public in vulnerable places. And there was a tweet that a nurse made who was at a local hospital who recounted the experience from a night prior saying that, Hey, there was a Seattle Police Department officer in here who was not wearing a mask. This was near COVID patients. This was in a hospital. Obviously these are people who are ill or with compromised immune systems and every precaution needs to be taken - there at the very top of the list of places where we need to be careful. And when asked to put on a mask, got an attitude, refused to, and so you're looking at an officer of the law who can detain whoever he wants, who really has the authority in that situation to - to violate people's rights and put people's health in jeopardy and like, this is a real threat - you're in a hospital, you might be killing people. You might be giving people an infection that will kill them. And, and to do that with impunity and to have that attitude, that that is okay, is just so far beyond unacceptable. And I don't understand how, how this has been able to linger for so long - watching so many police without masks on.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:15:27] It's - it just goes back to, right, I mean, the whole thing with power corrupting. And police officers for too long in our society have been too powerful, quite frankly. And that - you can't tell me that that mentality, right, doesn't start to become a part of you, where it's like, I - I can enforce and lay down the law, but I don't need to be subject to it myself. And I mean, it's just the whole not-wearing-a-mask thing - it's just ultimately, right, a microcosm, an epitome - of the whole fact that police officers largely do not want to be held accountable for their actions. You know, this whole mask situation is just, you know, the microcosm of that. And the fact is when you also ask them to be accountable, then it's all of a sudden it's, Well, we can't do our jobs, or we're being attacked, or this and that. And it's like, at the end of the day, nobody is drafted to be a police officer. You are - you voluntarily entered into this, and so that you should have guard rails to what you can and can't do, especially if you are given such an outsize, I don't wanna say, you've been given sort of an outsize presence within our society. So you should also have an outsize responsibility. Unfortunately doesn't seem like too many people want to buy into that.
Crystal Fincher: [00:16:35] Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, we have the saying, "With great power comes great responsibility," for a reason. And it's true. We are not advocating that they go home injured. We're not advocating anything. We just don't want our rights to be violated. And given that they have the power to - to violate them - that they can detain people, that they can , you know, strip people of their freedom , interrogate people - they have the ability and the authority to go so far beyond what every other citizen, resident can, that - that they should be held to a higher standard. This is something so simple and obvious that we have to continue to push back on the idea that, that, no, we shouldn't question anything. We should just let them do whatever they're doing and whatever request they make, whether it's legal or not, whatever mood they're in, whatever whim , you know, they feel, we just need to capitulate and obey and, and do whatever they say at whatever time. That's not how this works. It's certainly not how it should work. And, and if that is happening, it should be completely , you know, overhauled and fixed. And so there's so much work to be done.
You know, it was very revealing to see the support for the [King County] charter amendments in the November election, especially one having to do with reforming and bringing more accountability to the Sheriff's office. Because a lot of people are under the impression that, Oh, only, only Black people care about this. Only these young, you know, radicals and left-wing progressives and Antifa, as if that's an organized thing, only cares about that. And, you know, to see a super-majority of cities in King County come out strongly in support, in favor of reforming - it just really underscores that this behavior has persisted and has been so visible that - no, we're actually in agreement as a society, whether in the suburbs or not, whether you're in high income or low income areas - people understand this needs to change and have voted to change it.
And in the City of Seattle, the numbers are, are huge - astronomical in support. So, you know, this idea that, Oh, people just want law enforcement officers to keep doing what they're doing and they support them. You know, I think people want to, you know, say, Hey, let's all work together to keep each other safe, but, but that means that we have to keep each other safe. And if there are members of our community that are not feeling safe, we have to do something about it. So I'm definitely gratified to see that people are willing to vote for change at the ballot box. And I hope, especially as we have city council elections, the mayor election coming up this year in 2021, that we - that they see that the residents across the board in Seattle are demanding change and willing to vote for it. And, and to take that also as a caution - that if they're acting against that, then that is a problem for them at the ballot box also. This is something that the residents of Seattle want and the most important poll that could possibly be taken - the one that actually happens when people vote - supports it. So we'll have to see what happens.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:20:06] I'm cautiously optimistic, Crystal.
Crystal Fincher: [00:20:09] I am cautiously optimistic too. And by the way, you at the South Seattle Emerald are running an excellent series - so people should stay tuned to the South Seattle Emerald because you have interviews with people who have declared that they are running for mayor so far and will continue doing that. So people should definitely know that that is a resource for finding out where people stand right now. I know that, you know, as I was reading - certainly went into more detail with one candidate in particular than I had seen anywhere else. So I appreciate how thorough you're being in examining who these candidates are and the issues that they support .
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:20:51] Appreciate that, Crystal. And you have - I have to say it, especially because it's your show - you have definitely helped with sourcing of, of some questions. So you are the mayoral whisperer is what I'm going to start calling you.
Crystal Fincher: [00:21:04] I don't know about that. I've just been around long enough to to have absorbed that over time. I think that's it. And I'm just approaching dinosaur status, pretty much.
So I wanted to talk about, just a little bit, about the candidates that have announced so far. I guess, looking at the City of Seattle elections - what is on-deck, I guess, for the next few months at least? We're going to see more people announcing their candidacies - what types of issues, I guess, are immediately on the docket for them right now? I anticipate, certainly, dealing with COVID - getting the vaccinations out. What are we looking at there?
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:21:45] I mean, obviously COVID - we're still in the midst of a pandemic and then the same crisis that we've had - that have yet to be fully satisfactorily addressed. And I'm talking about homelessness, obviously - affordable housing, income inequality here in the city. How do you balance companies paying their fair share, but also I think things that keeps some companies here for quote, unquote, create jobs and so forth. So it's not going to be an easy task. I mean, I think, you know, love or hate our current mayor - I think her tenure has definitely shown that it is a extremely hard job in a city that is changing, evolving, and has multiple interests that quite frankly, don't always align. So it is going to be tough. I don't know if there can be a unifying force, if you will, in terms of the mayoral candidates who have already declared and some who I've heard are considering running. That being said, I don't know if we necessarily even need a unifying force, right? I think we need strong leadership in this city. And it's yet to be determined who can provide that type of leadership.
Crystal Fincher: [00:22:46] Yeah. I, I definitely agree with that. I think that we have seen , certainly, with Jenny Durkan , before her, with Ed Murray, that there seem to be a desire to not make people unhappy. And wanting to please everyone. And as we all know, especially when it comes to being the head of a major city, that doesn't work. And that's just going to get everyone mad at you. And it's a recipe for paralysis. And when there are pressing urgent problems that you're dealing with, you know, that usually winds up moving you backwards. And, and we have seen, throughout the 10 years of both of them, moving backwards on the issue of homelessness, income inequality, housing instability, so many factors.
And so I certainly am hoping for someone who is willing to be a strong leader and who is not going to be kind of that same, well, let's, let's try and find a consensus and let's try and, you know, take a uniform approach. And I've commissioned four task forces to take a look at that. And you know, I'm not going to implement any of their recommendations, but treat their report as like a win. We cannot afford - literally, residents can't afford to have that happen anymore. People are, are trying to avoid COVID, trying to stay in their homes with the highest unemployment rate. So certainly a challenge moving forward. And we'll just have to see how it unfolds.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:24:19] Crystal, I do want to ask you this - I mean, you talked about the, our last two mayors. Like I could not tell you who their base actually was, right? I mean, you know, like who, who are these people's base, right? Like, I can't tell you who Jenny Durkan's base is right now. Might be one of the reasons she's not running for reelection.
Crystal Fincher: [00:24:37] Aside from the Chamber?
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:24:41] Right. Right. But obviously, Chamber support isn't enough, in and of itself, to, to, to gain you friends. And, you know, enduring influence in the city - and endearing, I should say - well, endearing and enduring influence in the city. So how do you, I mean, how do you - how would you suggest - if you were giving free advice, if you will, to our next leader, whoever whomever that might be, what would you tell them?
Crystal Fincher: [00:25:13] I mean, so I guess I should say this. Obviously coming , having worked on Seattle mayoral campaigns before, having you know - knowing people who worked within several campaigns, probably had a little bit more visibility into the coming together of, of policy. You hit the nail on the head and that you actually have to have a base of residents who vote in the city. And, and that's a challenge. And, and so my advice would be to be who you are and lead according to your values - that's really all you can rely on. And, and that actually builds trust with voters. I think people underestimate that, that - if you give voters a clear understanding of, of what your values are, and the lens through which you process information and policy - that even when you disagree, even, even when they don't see eye-to-eye, that if you're able to explain to them - this is how I came to this decision. This is how I come to these decisions and the same way that, you know, this policy that you supported. There's a reason why I did that. And, and this is the reason why I did this and to be transparent. And certainly that's not going to please everyone, but people would be surprised. Many politicians would be surprised that that does carry weight with a number of voters. And that they feel that if you are straight with them and that you actually care about helping them - that's really what they're looking for. Not, well, if I do this, I'm going to make this person unhappy. And gosh, my re-elect is going to need an endorsement and financial support from that organization. And, Oh, these, you know, this trade organization that's, you know, headed by people who don't even live in the city - that becomes so problematic. And so I think you just have to be where you are and, and that has to match where the voters are. And really if that doesn't match, then you aren't right for the moment anyway. You're going to have to make your case. And, and if they decide to go in a different direction, that's what happens. But, but the way that you actually build power and build political capital is by saying - you know what, I'm going to lead in this direction and then leading in that direction and, and bringing the coalition with you that comes. Your mandate comes from being elected and people need to understand that. And operate accordingly.
Marcus Harrison Green: [00:27:36] Crystal's mic drop.
Crystal Fincher: [00:27:39] Well, I thank you so much for joining us today. You know, this has been a wonderful conversation. Again, I encourage people to continue to read the South Seattle Emerald and support the South Seattle Emerald financially because it's such a necessary media platform here in the city.
And thank you to everyone for listening to Hacks and Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM this Friday, January 22nd, 2021. Our chief audio engineer at KVRU is Maurice Jones, Jr. The producer of Hacks and Wonks is Lisl Stadler. And our wonderful co-host today was South Seattle Emerald publisher and Seattle Times columnist, Marcus Harrison Green. You can find Marcus on Twitter @mhgreen3000. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii. And now you can follow Hacks and Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts - just type Hacks and Wonks into the search bar and you will get our almost-live show and our midweek show sent directly to your podcast stream. And of course we will have a full audio transcript available for people there and the links to articles and information that we referenced in the show. So thanks for joining us and talk to you next time.