all contents copyright Richard Lee 2001-2005
October 25, 2005
"HE'S IN NEED OF SOME RESTRAINT:
OUR HEARING IN NICKELS V. LEE IS SOMETHING OF A VICTORY, WITH ONLY A 50-FOOT RESTRICTION ORDERED, BUT DOES AN ERRONEOUS JUDICIAL SCRAWL AND AGGRESSIVE REPORTING OF THIS GAFFE MEAN A DEADLY DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS?"
The online version of the story was alarming if not infuriating yesterday, but the Seattle Times print edition was actually pretty amusing, what with my campaign headshot next to Mayor G.J.N., visually sort of implying that the real contest for hearts and minds in this election season was between these guys, and nevermind about that fakey non-professor who advanced to the next level.
But the essence of the story for us was not in the 18-day belated reporting of the conclusion of the anti-harassment trial, but in the error central to the story based on an extra "x" in the written judicial order that implied, though clearly did not state, that a 500-foot zone was to be drawn around not only Nickels' home, where I've never been, but also City Hall, where I do some of my best work.
The Times reporter emailed me at noon on Friday with a brief, strangely worded inquiry for Monday's paper asking what restrictions were on me because, as he wrote, "The wording in the copy I have is a bit unclear." This sounded like he got a bad photocopy, not that the content of the written order was confusing and contradictory.
But come Monday there it was, stated as a matter of fact in "Washington's Largest Newspaper" that I couldn't come within blocks of City Hall, when in fact I am merely restricted from the parking garage and Nickels' office area, the seventh floor.
So I fired back with a nasty email:
How can you expect people to believe that such an amateurish mistake is not deliberate? Thanks a whole lot for making my lfe a much more dangerous anywhere within about two football fields' distance from City Hall. That's the place full of a bunch of "counter-terrorist" goons in and out of uniform who have been committing acts of violence against me for years, while no doubt hoping for greater acts of violence.
You know that I emailed you (in response to your request) recently that there was merely a 50-foot restriction put down as a distance between myself and Greg Nickels by Judge Barbara Linde in her October 6 ruling. From court audio, this is what she says:
"The petitioner is asking for a distance of 500 feet, and I think that is frankly unreasonable given the fact that the content of Mr. Lee's, um, the subject that he is interested in, the subject that he wishes to pursue, is Constitutionally protected, and he's entitled to do that. Greg Nickels is a public figure, he's entitled to be aware of what Mr. Nickels is doing in his public life, and to be present..."
So when you write that there is a 500-foot restriction from my being around Mr. Nickel's office, you are completely wrong, and given that you've had 18 days to check this out, I have to wonder why. It's clear to me that I'm going to have to hear this nonsense repeated at me by very hostile people for probably the rest of my life. Thanks, Seattle Times!
EDIT THIS OUT: Hell yes, I want you to run this letter, and a correction, and an apology.
Monday, October 24, 2005 1:27 PM
This found no favorable response from the reporter involved, who continued to assert that they were simply reporting content of a signed judicial order. So I pulled the hard-copy and fired back again:
I've looked over the written ruling from Judge Linde, and I stick with the assessment I made on the phone to you yesterday, that if you found the written ruling confusing, which is only reasonable, you should have paid attention to my claim that it was merely a 50-foot restriction, you should have asked me for clarification, and/or you should have walked across the street and had a listen to the audio of the oral ruling.
The "x" in the box for "place of employment" is an error, rather obviously, since the same small section refers to "+ from the 7th floor + parking garage of Seattle City Hall" and has a box with an "x" for "The address is confidential". Obviously the confidential address isn't City Hall, and you wouldn't restrict a person to 500 feet from a top floor and bottom floor of that building. So the section is obviously in error, and the only reasonable inference to draw is that the 500 feet in no way meant City Hall. Did you really think that Judge Linde meant to put a "super-duper double secret prohibition" on the 7th floor and the parking garage?
I'm sending a letter to Judge Linde on this today, but I am sure we can both see that the only issue is that "x" and that excluding it makes the written ruling match her oral ruling statements.
So does your column run it's own corrections, or do I have to deal with someone else there?
Tuesday, October 25, 2005, 2:11 PM
Somehow this analysis or further reflection and/or bureacratic brow-furling has resulted in the reporter saying the Times will run a correction if and when Judge Linde responds to their inquiry with her that the order was in error.
This is a dramatic reversal, but will it be enough to correct a misperception that undoubtedly has been created that it is now open season on KCWM in and around most of the municipal complex downtown, and a rather broad adjoining area?
I really can't say yet, although I can well imagine how this published faux-factoid is playing in the minds of those who've attempted to win ugly in ways far meaner than the White Sox ever imagined--I can't recall the South Siders ever resorting to perjury, false accusations of assault, false imprisonment, defamation of character and coercing or enticing a federal official (Mrs. Nickels) to join in on all the crime by standing by her man and his falsehoods under oath.
Oh, well, at least this has given me the opportunity to request of Judge Linde a ruling that is more clearly spelled out, and presumably at least diminishes the obviousness of the target on my back:
October 25, 2005
Judge Barbara Linde
Assistant Chief Presiding Judge, King County District Court
E-327, King County Courthouse
516 Third Avenue
Seattle, WA 98104
Judge Barbara Linde:
Yesterday a story in the Seattle Times brought out what is a rather alarming error in the order we signed in case 55-6476 on October 6 (see attached photocopy).
As you can see, it is quite possible to get the wrong idea about the 500-foot restriction you placed on my being in the vicinity of Greg Nickels residence, as the boxes are checked for both “residence” and “place of employment”.
This is presumably your error, unless you suspect Ms. Boatwright of the city attorney’s office of tampering with the document when it was handed to her to sign.
I wasn’t happy about the Times botching this, because of course, with your notes about restriction from the 7th floor offices and the parking garage of City Hall, and my email to them, they should have understood that an error was likely before going to press.
But it seems that we need to correct this written order before I can expect a public correction from the Times. This will presumably require my presence in the courthouse to sign the new order.
This brings up a number of issues that I think need clarification in your ruling, especially the oral part.
At the conclusion of the October 6 hearing. with some prompting, I was able to gather that you do not want me attempting to contact Mr. Greg Nickels by telephone. There is substantial reason for concern about the ambiguity of this, and also the lack of basis stated for such a judgment. Consider that:
1. I have spoken to Mr. Nickels in the very public forum of his (usually) monthly TV program “Ask the Mayor” twice recently, and I believe that the citizens of Seattle benefited greatly from these exchanges—after all, I was his best-known opponent in the primary election, and yet there was not a singe common meeting between Mr. Nickels and his primary opponents. Clearly, if the U.S. Constitution was meant to protect any variety of speech even above all others, it would be this variety. And yet your ruling would seem to insulate Mr. Nickels from this sort of questioning simply because of complaints about my being in his close physical proximity. This seems unreasonable, although your ruling’s allowing “electronic” communications would seem to have allowed this, until the rather afterthought-oriented mention of telephone communications, which is not present in the written order.
2. In the hearing on this matter, you may recall that there was considerable discussion about telephone interactions I had with Ms. Edsonia Charles, who had been Mr. Nickels’ chief assistant for police matters. Since my journalism practice tends to be rather legalistic, often providing information to government officials for the sake of having done so, even understanding their reluctance to “do the right thing” in a controversy, it is certainly possible that I will find myself requesting a response from Mr. Nickels through a staffer in the next 12 months. Do you see any problem in my communicating with Nickels through a mayoral staffer on the phone?
3. Only yesterday I had a chat with Sharon Nickels at her offices at the EPA on the subject of her views of the July 10, 2001 incident in which it was alleged by Mr. Nickels that I “pushed or shoved” Mrs. Nickels. She is presumably familiar with what has occurred in your court recently, and yet she invited me to call her at home, citing concerns about federal regulations and her discussing politics from her office. I agreed to do this, but in fact deliberately did not, seeing how calling the phone number she provided could be seen as a violation of your order (I presume she shares a household with Mr. Nickels, though this has never been stated to me outright). Would calling Mrs. Nickels at her invitation constitute a violation of your order?
In general, I of course feel that any restrictions of a reporter’s freedom under RCW 10.14 need to be tailored as narrowly as possible to avoid just such issues arising, and I must say that as the days go by, it becomes more apparent how your order was rather vague and may contain the seeds of trouble to come. Could you elaborate in writing on these areas, please:
A. Is the term “maintain” really fully sorted out in the case law of 10.14, as it pertains to your line “…maintain physical distance of at least 50’”? I attempted to maintain a distance of about 6-8 feet from Mr. Nickels in the September 7, 2005 incident, only to have him deliberately walk within about 3 feet of me, while ignoring my politely stated questions. It certainly seems to me that given the high stakes of reputation and career, Mr. Nickels could engineer a maneuver in which he appears by surprise when I am expected to be in the City Hall building, or somehow “corner” me if I attempt to cover an event where he is present. Given the degree of underhanded gamesmanship I’ve seen from Nickels and his helpers to date, my feeling is that this is not only possible, but likely. Putting the onus on me to “maintain” a broad space of 50 feet would seem to allow the petitioner to deliberately enter a 50-foot zone against my wishes, and yet make me responsible for his actions.
B. Your oral ruling made use of the term “surveillance” as something I was restricted from doing, although I do not recall this being an issue in the hearing, although your statements seem to be related to your distaste at my using a zoom lens while filming Mr. Nickels at a public event, and seemed to evince an misunderstanding about what a video photographer does at a news event. Because tape is cheap, and can be reused dozens of times, such a camera is simply turned on and left on for long periods of time, to capture anything interesting that may happen, and in the case of my practice, also to insulate me against false allegations of bad behavior. All public figures understand, for instance that one does not “snarl” in the presence of video cameras, as it can make one look bad if that footage is used. Just like a customer at a bank or convenience store, they know they are under many-frames-per-second motion picture “surveillance” when in such a situation. Does your vague mention of this term criminalize such conduct by a journalist?
C. You also seemed to have restricted verbal “contact” to Mr. Nickels from a distance of 50 feet. When Paul Schell was mayor, I attended and participated in many press conferences in his offices. Mr. Nickels, to my knowledge never or rarely publicly announces such press conferences in advance, and from what I’ve seen on municipal TV, always or almost always has these at an issue-oriented location, and tries to restrict the scope of issues narrowly. All of the recent presidents of the United States have been seen frequently hearing and either responding or ignoring questioning from more than 50 feet, so did you really mean to grant such a restriction, even though it seems to have never been requested by Nickels’ attorneys? This seems wholly unprecedented in a restriction on a reporter and a chief executive public official.
Only yesterday, the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad, known to be home to many foreign journalists, was bombed, with about 20 people killed. Previously this hotel was hit by an “accidental” rocket attack by U.S. forces, in an incident in which seemed to many to be a targeting intended to send a message to press personnel known to be in contentious relations with the military.
I mention this because I think that there is too often a tendency to see reporters as being like some sort of danger-seeking surfers, or rodeo cowboys, or pearl divers, who embrace the potentially lethal possibilities of their activities with macho gusto. But obviously, journalism is a dangerous enough business already, and those who want to make it seem like an empty-headed pursuit of thrills are likely to get little respect from those who are more serious in the profession. Investigative journalism is about pursuing the truth, even when the wealthy and powerful and their violence-prone henchmen are willing to resort to extreme tactics to make our lives much more dangerous.
And so the dangers to journalists are very dissimilar to those faced by lion-tamers and tightrope walkers, because they exist in a societal and legalistic framework in which, too often, violence is tolerated and encouraged by those who claim their job is to “protect” some person or property, and too little respect is given to First Amendment rights, because telling a reporter, especially an independent journalist, that staying away and/or just shutting up is the convenient thing to be ordered, so do it if you know what is good for you.
The Times misinterpretation of your apparently erroneous order means that I am now under a rather permanent threat of violence by a large gang of determined men with radios and cell phones and lots of time on their hands to conspire to attack me for merely being within 500 feet of City Hall, let alone inside it. After all, they saw it in the newspaper, quoting a judicial order, so hey, it must be true. It seems Mr. Lee is to be “taken down” (Officer Fox’s term) for violation of an order which does not exist.
On January 11 of this year I was arrested at a Los Angeles courthouse by deputies with big semiautomatic pistols drawn, as seen in film footage aired nationally. This was due to the complaint of one Courtney Love-Cobain, that I had violated a protection order by being present, although the guns incident occurred about 30 minutes after I had already calmly explained to one sheriff’s deputy that the accuser was simply lying about the whole thing, which he seemed to understand, as she is known as, even in the crazy world of show business, as one of the most drug-addled and violence-prone persons to ever attain her level of stature in big media.
I had been dealing with the LASD personnel for more than year at that point, had undergone extensive applications for official LA press identification, had faxed the courts’ media office that I would be appearing that day, and had a chat with a media liaison deputy about an hour before the incident. And yet I was evidently nearly “taken down” in a hail of gunfire. Even after LASD understood that there was no protection order, they reinterpreted Love-Cobain’s statements to constitute a terroristic threat against her by me, and also wanted to charge me with “forgery” based on my possessing a photocopy of a Seattle Police-issued ID that, it was claimed, was somehow illegally possessed by me as per the information they had received by the office of Chief R. Gil Kerlikowske. I’m sure you can see how it is reasonable for me to view this incident, in which I was held for 65 hours, as the result of a series of conspiratorial actions between multiple police agencies and a notorious criminal. And yet the City Attorney’s adjunct document to the Nickels Declaration in this case has the audacity to cite the presumed “harassment” of “Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love” and numerous other people who have likewise never leveled a formal complaint against me.
So when I think of the effect that the Times story can have on the gun-slinging, time-laden “counter terrorist” personnel in the vicinity of Fourth and James Streets, I am left wondering if it isn’t time for us to get together and discuss amending your order in ways that makes more sense as far as circumspection to the Constitutional issues at stake and also the realities of a politician and his personal police squad who seem determined to achieve some significant political gain with some decisive action more geared to the mentality of sports fans and martial arts enthusiasts than to the rather well understood traditions of investigations in the public’s interest and questioning of public officials by a journalist.
I’m guessing that we will need to get together to sign on to a corrected order anyway, so why not try to hash these issues out in a more thoroughly worded order, which we can discuss in a hearing? Would filing a formal motion for such a hearing be required, or is this letter sufficient?
October 5, 2005
NICKELS VS. LEE ANTI-HARASSMENT ACTION TO CONCLUDE
TOMORROW, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2005, 11:00 AM,
ROOM E-326 OF KING COUNTY COURTHOUSE, DOWNTOWN SEATTLE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, OCTOBER 5, 2005, 11:46 AM
“The anti-harassment trial of Nickels v. Lee could hardly have been more dramatic, even in the hands of a large gang of Hollywood scriptwriters,” says Richard Lee, the cable TV host and producer who has been targeted by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels in this action, under Washington State law RCW 10.14.
“Not only did I totally undermine the credibility of the two police witnesses from the mayor’s personal protection detail in cross examination, but mayor Gregory J. Nickels was shown to be the person most deserving of the big liar of the day prize,” says Lee, who acted as his own attorney.
Thursday’s hearing will include closing arguments and an examination of videotape that Lee took on September 7, 2005, which documents his arrest at a Nickels campaign event. Also to be seen is videotape of a 15-minute incident at Safeco Field from July 10, 2001, when Nickels says Lee “pushed or shoved” his wife, Sharon Nickels, who did not testify or provide an affidavit. “Not only did I not assault Mrs. Nickels, but at the very end of the tape I can be seen joking and laughing with her about all the weight Mr. Nickels had lost at that time. Just as I said in concluding my testimony yesterday, she clearly does not identify me as her assailant. Greg Nickels is lying.”
Lee has made a request for cameras in the courtroom to Judge Barbara Linde 24 hours in advance of the hearing tomorrow.
The previous press release on this matter from September 21 follows.
September 21, 2005
SEATTLE MAYOR GREG NICKELS MAKES ASTONISHING MOVE TO INSULATE HIMSELF FROM CRITICISM OF SEATTLE JOURNALIST AND OPPOSING MAYORAL CANDIDATE RICHARD LEE, BY SLAPPING HIM WITH A HARSHLY WORDED PETITION FOR ANTI-HARASSMENT PROTECTION ORDER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2005, 4:55 AM
In an astonishing turn of events at the end of the primary election season, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels signed a complaint Monday against challenging mayoral candidate Richard Lee, who was actually stopped by a Seattle police officer after voting in his neighborhood precinct at approximately 4:23 PM, joined by another police car about one minute later, driven by an SPD officer with a 273-page document to serve Lee.
“It looked like a whole ream of paper, which is 500 pages, but actually copying on this cheap paper kind of poofs it up a bit, so it turned out to be only 273 pages, about 90 percent of which is a print-out of my famous website,” Lee says. “Why they did that I don’t know, but it looks like they want to create an ungainly and expensive-to-copy document that will give me problems in pursuing an appeal, if it comes to that.
“I went through this 5 years ago when Krist Novoselic, former bass player for Nirvana and then wannabe political bigwig in King County made very similar claims against me, especially the repeated claims that I have ‘thrust’ or ‘shoved’ my camcorder ‘into’ the ‘face’ of the complainant.
“I had thought that one staggering result of the legal action of Novoselic, this very prominent person in the Nirvana saga, whose recollections of the good old days of grunge are a big part of his stock in trade, was that he was willing to commit perjury so conspicuously, making claims that simply weren’t true about incidents which were videotaped and then essentially broadcast in full on my cable TV program.
“But this move by Nickels far surpasses even Novoselic’s outrageously false claims. He repeatedly describes “…attempts to shove his camera into my face…” which is an outrageous lie, unless we presume that Greg Nickels is able to read minds, and knows that I am considering doing such a thing only to be halted by a repositioning of one of his security men, in this way having such an “attempt” thwarted. But it’s a lie or an outrageous misrepresentation at least.
“Nickels tries to convey the false impression that I am some constant presence in his physical space, as if he has to fear my being around every corner. In fact, I have only encountered Mr. Nickels in the flesh on, arguably, five occasions since he became Seattle mayor almost four years ago. Once in the widely reported Fremont incident of September 7, only three weeks ago, and once on May 23, 2004, at the opening of the new central library. And there was an attempt to question Nickels as his car passed into City Hall on September 10, 2004, but I never even got a clear look at him from behind the dark glass of his limo, and a few weeks earlier the same car rolled by me quickly, with, may I add, disregard for my safety as a pedestrian, as I climbed the hill on James Street when the sidewalk was totally fenced off due to City Hall construction—it was as if Nickels wanted me to see him on that occasion, as he went by with his window rolled down all the way. And on August 13 of this year I saw Nickels at a mayoral forum he was 2 ½ hours late for, but police kept me about 40 feet away as he was momentarily seen entering the building, and then I saw him zoom out quickly in his limo from about 20 feet away.
"So excluding those three very automobile-oriented encounters, I’ve really only been in Nickels’ presence ON TWO OCCASIONS since he became mayor, the library opening and the Fremont barbeque event, to which I received a postcard inviting me.
“And I did speak to Nickels on his call-in cable TV show in August, where I challenged him to debate me, and then again on September 14, when I got him to make what was essentially his first statement ever on the Kurt Cobain homicide" (see previous press release).
Among the evidence Nickels is offering is a report by a library security officer named only as “Sam 1” who claims that Lee said on May 23, 2004, “Answer my fucken question, Mayor! Why don’t you answer my fucken questions!” In fact, Lee has published a word-by-word transcript of that incident on his website, and never said anything of the kind to Nickels. In the 8 minutes or so from the time Lee began addressing comments to Nickels to the time he was violently ejected from the building by “library security” officers, he never uses any so-called profane word toward Nickels, in fact, calling Nickels “sir” 16 times, as the transcript of the videotaped encounter shows. Seattle police have retained Lee’s videotape of the Fremont event, and Lee has yet to see it.
“The layers of lies in this thing are so thick because they want people to think that with a set of accusations this vile and this detailed, at least some of it must be true,” Lee says. “Essentially, though, it’s all lies and distortions. I’ve done nothing wrong, or even, really, in bad taste.
“There is much made of ‘profanity-laden and often incoherent diatribes’ and ‘profanity-laden rants’ in Nickels’ descriptions, but I am quite confident I have never directly targeted any public official with any foul language, certainly not in the context of some sort of confrontation, as the Nickels statement would have you believe. If I turn to my camera and do a monologue segment and call Nickels ‘Mayor Chunkybutt’ when he’s 50 feet away, that is merely dialogue with my television audience.
“And make no mistake about it, trying to employ humor and dramatic emphasis in these monologues means that I sometimes utilize the sort of language Lenny Bruce was jailed for 40 years ago. But watch Jon Stewart on cable TV and you’ll see him use the ‘Carlin’ forbidden words on almost every program, and often direct such words at leading politicians, although his in-studio guests include leading figures from both political parties. It’s just a fact of life today that politicians are going to have to put up with cable TV commentators calling them douchebags, retards, and worse. If only we lived in a world where this didn’t seem to so many to be so appropriate.
“But this is not some form of ‘hate’ broadcasting where I am constantly searching for the harshest terms in which to describe those who are the subjects of my inquiries. About a month after I was attacked at the library, I referred to Nickels as a ‘sack of crap’ and said that I did this with regret, as it is regrettable that this is the apropos term under these circumstances, as Nickels can clearly be seen on video signaling for the beginning of what was a very violent attack on me.
“But I really hate being attacked, I really, really do. I’ve been serious about doing journalism since I was 12 years old, and after 30 years, 12 of which I’ve been a constant presence for Seattle on my weekly TV program, you would think I could get the minimum of respect, which is freedom from the possibility of malicious violence against me as I am practicing my profession. And yet these prominent public figures continue to resort to violence to try to hide from the scrutiny of their careers that my investigations bring.
“The anti-harassment statute in Washington is supposed to protect Constitutionally protected activity, and my journalism practice is certainly that, although this was flagrantly ignored in the ruling in the 2000 case of Novoselic vs. Lee, which I appealed up to the state Supreme Court (which declined to hear it). I am reluctant to make any prediction as to what the outcome here will be, but I vow to fight this thing in appeals if I lose at trial. In so many ways, it appears this case is unprecedented, and it needs to be fought on First Amendment grounds.
“I can say without hesitation that my belief is that my program represents the best in journalism, and that the outstanding controversies in the Kurt Cobain homicide case are as genuine as can be. And it’s obvious to me that Greg Nickels is blameworthy for his failure to order investigations into this case as mayor and in his previous role as the chair of the Seattle-King County board of health, for accepting big-time financial support form Krist Novoselic, and for his dirty tricks tactics against me, of which this legal action is only the latest.
“The only danger to Greg Nickels from me is to his reputation, and the anti-harassment statute isn’t made to protect that. And the law isn’t supposed to be a tool through which a public figure can protect himself from his own significant role in a scandal, by not only limiting a journalist’s activities, but also by allowing someone to gain a seeming judicial imprimatur of endorsement to a set of accusations designed to harm the journalist by smearing his reputation in the most vicious way.”
Richard Lee's first hearing on this matter is set for October 4 at 1:3O PM.
THIS IS THE TEXT OF THE GREG NICKELS DECLARATION:
KING COUNTY DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON WEST DIVISION
GREGORY J. NICKELS, an individual, Petitioner
RICHARD W. LEE, an individual, Respondent
DECLARATION OF GREGORY J. NICKELS
I, GREGORY J. NICKELS, declare and state as follows:
1. I am the Mayor of the City of Seattle. I am over the age of 21 and competent to testify.
2. For the past several years, Richard W. Lee has engaged in a pattern of conduct towards me that is threatening and harassing and has caused me substantial alarm and concern. He often appears at events that I am scheduled to appear at, attempts to make physical contact with me, attempts to shove his camera in my face, and rants, often in profanity-laden diatribes, about the death of Kurt Cobain and alleged mutilation of his corpse by Bleitz Funeral Home personnel. I was not involved in any way in any investigation surrounding the death of Mr. Cobain, have never been affiliated in any way with the Bleitz Funeral Home, and know nothing about any mutilation of Mr. Cobain’s corpse.
3. The information presented on the Statement of Basis for Petition for Anti-harassment Order is true and correct.
4. Given the public nature of my encounters with Mr. Lee, I have become increasingly concerned and alarmed by his harassing and threatening course of conduct. I have observed citizens with whom I was interacting become visibly alarmed and shaken by Mr. Lee’s profanity-laden rants and physical attempts to force his way past them. His erratic behavior and attempts to muscle his way towards me pose a threat not only to me, my family and citizens with whom I interact, but to Mr. Lee himself, who faces the risk of forcing armed security personnel to restrain him by use of force. I am concerned for my physical safety should Mr. Lee be permitted to continue his campaign of threats and harassment toward me.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Washington that the foregoing is true and correct.
EXECUTED this 19th day of September, 2005 at Seattle, King County, Washington.
GREGORY J. NICKELS, MAYOR
September 14, 2005:
Here are our two press releases for today, one on our opponent Al Runte, and one on our opponent Greg Nickels:
MAYOR GREG NICKELS BREAKS VERY LONG SILENCE ON KURT COBAIN HOMICIDE CASE ON CALL-IN TELEVISION SHOW, HIS OPPONENT RICHARD LEE CALLS HIS RESPONSE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2005, 11:55 PM
From tonight’s “Ask the Mayor,” a live call-in program on the City of Seattle’s Seattle Channel:
RICHARD LEE: Hi, well thanks for taking the call, C.R. This is of course Richard Lee, and I’m currently a candidate for mayor in the city of Seattle. And as many of you will know out there from reading the papers, I was subjected to the incredible level of insult, and danger, and injustice last week by being arrested at one of Mr. Nickels campaign events. And, ah, presumably I’ll have the opportunity to ask him about this under oath, if they do proceed with a criminal trial. I’ve been accused of assaulting a police officer, who in fact very viciously assaulted me, as Mr. Nickels was driving away in his limousine. And, but what I’d like to ask you is the question I was attempting to ask you at the moment, which is that at least since the year 2000, when you were the head of the board of health, I’ve been attempting to address questions to you on the issue of the misconduct of county and city personnel who were under your authority in the homicide case of Kurt Cobain. Now, as you know, as I pointed out to you in a forum, in a debate when I ran against you for mayor in 2001, the current chief medical examiner, Dr. Richard Harruff, is guilty of scientific fraud in this case, because he published an article in the Journal of Forensic Sciences, purporting to explain that intraoral shotgun wounds do not cause exit wounds—(they have disconnected LEE).
HOST C.R. DOUGLAS: Okay, let’s, let’s get a response from the mayor.
MAYOR GREG NICKELS: Well, one of the wonderful things about this country is we can have whatever opinions we want to, and we can hold those as truths, or we can, ah, advocate for those. And, ah, you’re welcome to believe what you will about Kurt Cobain and his death, and you’re welcome to run for mayor and advocate for your position. However, the experts who looked at it, the police officers who investigated it, the medical examiner in doing his review all found that Mr. Cobain committed suicide. It’s a closed case. And I just don’t know that it’s a real important issue to be debating in a mayor’s race. (END OF NICKELS’ COMMENTS).
Lee’s response: “It was exactly 5 years ago, September 15, 2000, when Mr. Nickels last promised a response to my research on Dr. Harruff in the Cobain case, in a videotaped hearing of the Seattle/King County board of health, of which Mr. Nickels was the chair. No response was ever forthcoming. When I questioned Mr. Nickels about this at an August 27, 2001 mayoral forum, Nickels laughed and then put his head to the table, rather than respond to my question (the Seattle Times described this as “collapsing in hysterical laughter’)”.
Last May, Lee attempted to ask Nickels about his correspondence of September, 2003 on the subject of the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability and its failure to investigate new evidence that at least one member of the investigatory team, from the medical examiner’s office, took part in a videotaped series of crimes which included theft of Cobain’s body parts. Within a few minutes, Nickels clearly signaled his bodyguard unit to assault Lee, which very violently happened, with Lee being thrown to the sidewalk as he was shoved out the door of the newly opened central library. One week ago, September 7, Nickels evidently had Lee arrested in a contrived situation in an attempt to intimidate, humiliate, and discredit him.
Lee says, “Nickels’ response seemed rehearsed and designed to say as little as possible, while having him finally ring in with blind support for the police and medical examiner. It was merely brazenly obtuse. How can he say that there can be no issue about the conduct of medical examiner because the medical examiner has raised no such issue? That is moronic.
“And his blind confidence for the ‘police officers who investigated it’—who is he talking about, other than the infamous Sergeant Don Cameron homicide squad that fell apart in the police scandal of 1999, which more or less led to his then becoming mayor?
“If he is conceivably talking about his SPD’s OPA, that is equally absurd, since the whole point of my 2003 correspondence was that despite an enormity of evidence that acts of official corruption occurred, the OPA was willing to do no investigation whatsoever, as they openly admitted. So who are these ‘experts’ that Nickels thinks investigated this case?
“One essential question which must occur to the public now is if I am being fair to Nickels, or if he is just a convenient target for criticism. I can say without any doubt that Nickels is an appropriate subject for harsh criticism in the Cobain matter, because of his years of dodging the issue, for his disregard of his responsibilities of overseeing police accountability, which was his promised top priority when he ran 4 years ago, for his huge level of support from the now-defunct JAMPAC, which was headed by Krist Novoselic, an interested party in the Cobain estate, and, very clearly, Nickels is culpable in these many incidents of trying to use police violence and now a false prosecution to attack a journalist and, at this time, his opponent in an election.
“Greg Nickels never stops talking about fixing potholes in his campaign. Obviously, there are more important issues to be addressed.”
SEATTLE MAYORAL CANDIDATE RICHARD LEE ASKS, WHY IS CANDIDATE AL RUNTE NOT BEING CRITICIZED FOR LYING ABOUT HIS “PROFESSOR” CLAIM?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, SEPTEMBER 14, 2005, 5:30 PM
Amid all of the coverage in recent weeks of how Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is facing little opposition in his bid for a second term, one candidate has been given more favorable treatment than any other, Alfred “Al” Runte.
This seems to be largely based on his claims of being a “professor” and/or “former professor” from the University of Washington, which turns out to be essentially false. While there seems to be no dispute that Mr. Runte has a PhD, his claims of the status of being a professor appear to be a premeditated effort at deception. His teaching career ended after being denied tenure at UW, after working as an “assistant professor” for a period roughly between 1980 and 1987. Many aspects of his employment there have been contested in 2 lawsuits Runte has brought against UW.
This Monday, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did a front-page piece which looked at all of the mayoral challengers, and described Runte as a former “UW assistant professor of history and an adjunct assistant professor of environmental studies.” The key term to notice here is “assistant professor,” although the P-I made no issue of the fact that this corrects their previous reporting since July 22 which has referred to Runte as a “former professor” (we first linked the Chronicle of Higher Education piece noting Runte’s status as a former “assistant professor” on Sept. 9). We know of no other media in Seattle which has reported Runte as anything but a “former professor.”
A look at the documents in the lawsuit in which Runte most recently sued the UW shows his complaint to be describing the “assistant professor” status only. Repeated emails to Runte in the past 3 days asking for clarification on this have gone unanswered. As has been noticed in at least one published report, Runte’s published website, “Alrunte4mayor.com” appears never to have existed.
A previous lawsuit against the UW ended this way, according to one report: “Judge Michael Heavey yesterday singled out Runte's pre-application correspondence with the UW History Department as evidence that he was ‘disgruntled, disagreeable, a person who appeared to have a chip on his shoulder.’” (P-I, August 25, 2001).
Runte has made his claim about being a professor in many ways, including in his official Voters’ Guide statement and his Video Voters’ Guide statement, both produced by a cooperative effort of the King County and Seattle elections offices.
Here is his Video Voters’ Guide Statement, in part:
“I am Al Runte, your neighbor, and I’m running for mayor. I’m a professor, not a politician. For years I taught Pacific Northwest history at the University of Washington...”
And here is part of his statement in the paper guide, mailed to all registered voters:
“Al Runte, your neighbor, is running for mayor. He’s a professor—not a career politician who will evade and duck your questions.” The statement, authored by Runte, later refers to him as “Professor Runte.”
Richard Lee questioned his opponent Runte on this issue outside of a mayoral candidate’s forum on human services policies last Thursday in Capitol Hill. Runte, as you see, first calls himself a professor, then denies that he ever said this in his Voters’ Guide statement, then walks away without clarifying.
LEE: Oh, say, ah, Mr. Runte.
LEE: Ah, you is a professor? You is a professor?
RUNTE: Of course.
LEE: Does that depend on the definition of what is is?
RUNTE: No, I’m a professor.
LEE: When was your last teaching position?
RUNTE: My last academic book is forthcoming in January of 2006, and we’re done here.
LEE: But you haven’t actually been a professor for 20 years, is that right? I mean, your Voters’ Guide statement says, your Voters’ Guide statement says that you are a professor… “I am a professor.” Is that correct?
RUNTE: No, it said for years I was at the University of Washington as a professor.
LEE: Ah, that’s not what your Voters’ Guide says.
RUNTE: You got the statement with you?
LEE: I may or may not, I’m not sure, but--
RUNTE: Well, if you don’t have the statement with you--
LEE: It says ‘I am a professor.’ Is you a professor? Is you is or is you ain’t a professor? I mean, you were dismissed for something called ‘insufficient intellectual development’ or something, in 1986, right? Wasn’t that a part of you lawsuit? Ah, I grabbed the wrong one, it’s the Elections Report. (LEE holds up another King County elections office publication that resembles the Voters’ Guide). In any case, it says ‘I am a professor.’ But you’re not willing to stand behind that at this point?
RUNTE: (pauses, stares). Have a nice day.
LEE: Is you is or is you ain’t a professor? (RUNTE stares). What’s your response to the ‘insufficient intellectual development’ charge? It just appears that you really haven’t done anything much in the last 20 years, and what you have done doesn’t really qualify you to call yourself ‘a professor.’ Isn’t that true? (RUNTE walks away).
This impromptu interview will be aired tomorrow night at 11:30 PM on Seattle/King County’s public access Channel 29/77, along with other dramatic material pertaining to Lee’s arrest on September 7 at a Greg Nickels campaign event. Lee has been charged with assaulting a police officer who was bodyguarding Nickels at the event, as Nickels left to get into his limousine. Lee plead not guilty on Saturday and says, “Not only am I not guilty in a legal sense, the charge is a total lie, made only barely plausible by the fact that that person, the accusing officer, very viciously assaulted me, evidently for the purposes of making this false charge.”
September 9, 2005
Of course, through our own efforts we were bound to make this mayor's race interesting, but we have not too suprisingly been assisted by the stupidity of others.
The news just out in the Seattle dailies about my arrest Wednesday on false charges of assaulting a police officer who was bodyguarding Greg Nickels is actually rather satisfying. No news media is known to have been present when the incident occurred shortly after dark at the barbeque event, but through two phone interviews with these reporters, our side has been fairly represented. Just as we described in our Voters' Guide statement, Nickels' bullying attitude is a central issue for everyone in the city to consider carefully.
16 hours in custody was highly objectionable, but certainly nothing new, and rapid action with a bail bond agency made this my briefest stay ever in King County lock-up. We especially wanted to achieve freedom to appear at a candidates' forum tonight, but alas, Mr. Nickels sent word that he had a "schedule conflict" and would not appear.
At least we had an interesting exchange tonight with the cranky Al Runte, the essentially anointed frontrunning challenger whose status seems to be entirely based on a "he is a professor" drumbeat. When challenged before our camera tonight, he denied saying this in his Voters' Guide statement, which should make us all cringe, since those are the exact blunt words he used. In fact, he was denied tenure at UW 19 years ago owing to what was described in court records as "lack of intellectual development" and apparently never rose above the title of assistant professor, and has done little since. He also refused to elaborate on his claim to be an expert on urban planning, or why his campaign website seems not to exist at all, as others have noticed. In the brief presentations candidates made to the human services activists and professionals, he did find time to describe a slender family connection to Rod Serling, creator of "The Twilight Zone." Hmm. All this and no political experience to boot.
We will appear at the jail facility on Saturday to plead not guilty to the fraudulent assault charge.
references for above:
September 1, 2005
Here is our Voters' Guide Statement, released yesterday:
According to controversial City of Seattle rules, I am prohibited from discussing my opponent.
But there is no doubt that the bullying conduct of Seattle city government is the defining issue in this election. We must ask if the City of Seattle can be trusted to guide our future, considering that the last four years have marked a dramatic change from cooperation with neighborhoods, to a distinctly pro-developer, anti-neighborhood policy agenda.
In my petition campaign endorsed by over 2,500 Seattle voters to appear on this ballot, I gained wide agreement that the astonishing pace of real estate development in our neighborhoods is a threat to the desire for Seattle to remain a recognizable community—-comfortable, safe, and not overly crowded.
“If you want peace and quiet, you better move to the suburbs,” City Council President Jan Drago recently said, reflecting a government that wants to look at its citizens as willing targets of exploitation. But residents need to have their property interests respected, and protected.
The pro-development theory is forwarded as “anti-sprawl” environmentalism, but there is no proof that “densifying” Seattle will prevent more houses from being built in King County. It’s obvious that the new high-rises are intended for affluent consumers from other states, who may eventually want a house in the suburbs, thus actually increasing sprawl.
Paul Allen’s partner Don Milliken recently stated that their South Lake Union condominiums costing as much as $2 million will “set the gold standard” and “redefine 5-star living.” The problem is, of course, that the Allentown project will cost at least $500 million in public spending, with no guarantees that it will not comprise yet another of Allen’s many failed business ventures.
I advocate a responsible, reform-minded government:
*Transportation solutions which are flexible, and not multi-billion-dollar mortgages—-like electric-eye traffic lights and a new generation of quiet, low-emission busses.
*Job growth based on predictable political stability, not a city with a quick-buck, fly-by-night reputation.
*A new view of Seattle as “family friendly” city, respecting neighborhoods, small businesses, pedestrians, and children.
In more than 20 years as an investigative journalist, I have had ample opportunity to witness the shortcomings of the persons and institutions that govern our lives. In my 12 years as a weekly cable-television host, I believe my reportage on local affairs has earned the respect and trust of very many viewers.
Clearly, we now require a change in government leadership.
August 13, 2005
above: Current Mayor Greg Nickels leaves a mayoral candidates' forum today, after having arrived 2 1/2 hours late, from behind a blockade of Seattle police that kept us off the property, curiously owned by corporate giant Safeco insurance.
July 29, 2005
Richard Lee will file at KCRE today. He would like to thank more than 2,500 Seattle voters who nominated him by signature in our July petition campaign (over 2,000 endorsing signatures in the first 3 weeks alone!).
Richard Lee looks forward to current mayor Greg Nickels accepting his challenge to debate anywhere, anytime.
Tune into this page for frequent updates.
also see our main KCWM site at
No one ever seems to reproduce our campaign photo accurately, so here's a good copy.--RL, 9/30/05.