Daily Troll: Tim Burgess' 'Stranger' favoritism, SPD gets media savvy, a dark holiday for downtown

Tim Burgess places a personal with 'The Stranger,' a new leader takes over at The Nature Conservancy in Seattle and why you keep missing the downtown holiday tree lights.

By Joe Copeland

November 28, 2012.

Mayor fallout

One thing is sure now that prime-time candidate Tim Burgess has officially joined the mayor's race more than 11 months ahead of the election: It's going to be a long campaign. What has a lot of political and media people talking is that Burgess chose The Stranger as the medium for making the announcement, giving a long interview to Dominic Holden (who did an insightful, at times wry job of writing it).

The approach brought some quick reactions on Twitter, but the larger question is whether his choice of news outlet will matter as the campaign unfolds, likely with the inclusion of Ron Sims, as Publicola noted this morning.

The Stranger is a Pulitzer Prize winning paper, but it's a safe bet that a few Seattle Times editorial staffers were less than thrilled.

But as The Times' Emily Heffter pointed out this afternoon, several publications had the story at the same time on Tueseday (though not with as much in the way of detailed quotes as The Stranger). And she noted that Holden criticized Burgess on Facebook for not keeping to his promise of an exclusive story and that Burgess apologized. Burgess did say The Stranger received his most extensive interview, which the various stories seemed to reflect.


New Nature Conservancy leadership

The Seattle office of The Nature Conservancy oversees some very active programs for the big national environmental organization. There's a lot of excitement around the selection of a new state director with an unusual and award-studded background to head the 73-person office.

Mike Stevens has won national awards from the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. He comes to the Conservancy after a nine-year stint running a for-profit land and livestock company and earlier experience with the Conservancy in Idaho and New Hampshire.

The Nature Conservancy's Seattle office oversees programs dealing with Puget Sound, the Washington coast, Eastern Washington forests and Washington’s sagelands. Stevens replaces Karen Anderson, who left earlier this year after steering the office through the financial downturn faced by so many non-profits, leaving the chapter strong both fiscally and programmatically, according to spokeswoman Robin Stanton. Anderson replaced a beloved leader, David Weekes, who died of cancer in early 2009; she also brought an innovative background, having worked at PATH and Microsoft. 


Police post video of their own

It may be possible to teach an entrenched department a few new tricks. The Seattle Police Department has apparently decided that two can play at the video release game.

As a video of a recent arrest was coming out, they briefed the media on the incident. And now the department's Web site includes a video of the entire briefing, which included playing the dash-cam recording of the arrest, which included jarring footage of an officer punching the suspect who was held by two other officers. The suspect had just spit at the officer.

The accompanying police statement says, "A particular force tactic employed by one arresting officer raised questions by the SPD chain of command and a decision was made to send the case to [the department's Office of Professional Accountability] for review." As Sgt. Sean Whitcomb makes clear, that refers to the officer putting his hands on the neck of the suspect, which occurred before the spitting and punch. Although attorneys earlier dropped charges, the police say they continue to believe the suspect should be charged for a hit-and-run involving minor injuries to a woman bicyclist.

Downtown tree lights

Downtown Seattle's holiday season is up and running, with a wealth of light-drenched activities and its own website,, to highlight them. But a certain shadow is cast over all of this holiday cheer by the mostly-dark Westlake holiday tree. Unlike in past years, this year's tree is actually unlit most of the time; a holiday disappointment for many downtown visitors.

For those who wonder if the lights aren't working or just aren't there, it turns out that this year's environmentally-correct LED lights only turn on once an hour (on the hour) from 4 to 10 p.m. The lighting is coordinated with a musical accompaniment, as the below video from last Friday's tree lighting shows. However, the lights seem to be out of commission at the moment. A spokeswoman for General Growth Properties, owner of Westlake Center, told us in an email late this afternoon: "The hourly performances  will be a fun, interactive musical treat for the community. Our team is working closely with our vendor to address a few technical issues with the tree as quickly as possible. We look forward to letting you and the community know as soon as it is up and running again." 

If the whole hourly lights thing isn't for you, Woodland Park Zoo is holding its first winter lighting show, which will be open through the first of the year. And don't forget the Bellevue Botanical Gardens' Garden d'Lights (which runs through Dec. 31st). It may be a lot farther than from Seattle's center of the universe (Fremont), but the Bellevue display is said to out-count the zoo with it's claim of "over a half-million lights."




Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at

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Printed on January 30, 2015