Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Times on D7 Finalists

Update: here is KUOW's story on Emijah Smith.

There's a lot to unpack here but, for me, this is a very convoluted story as written. For some reason, it is reported not by their education reporter, Ann Dornfeld, but by her colleague, Isolde Raftery.  

The story fleshed out what happened in an incident six years ago at Smith's home that resulted in Smith being arrested and charged with two felonies (which were dropped to a single misdomeanor as Smith took a plea, admitting that she would likely be found guilty if it went to trial).

Also, Raftery consulted some prosecutors but doesn't name them.  And, without explanation, she pulls in a social worker who may or may not have anything to do with the incident.

Raftery reports that when she asked Smith:
Does she wish she had responded differently?

The reaction was:
She bristled at the question.

Raftery then asks the social worker about that reaction:
I presented Smith’s case to a social worker who said the fight response is real, and often triggered by fear. She said that Smith's lack of contrition gave her pause.

President Harris says this in the story:

“We have nothing but respect or affection for Emijah and her exceptional work,” she said.

Raftery does get one thing right:
This raises questions about how to evaluate a candidate with a complicated past, because to rely solely on the police report wouldn’t give a full account. It also raises questions about transparency expected in the public process when someone runs for office.
How does the public decide what matters in a candidate's past? How does the Board decide? Is it the actual crime and what it says about temperament and judgement? The time since the crime and how the candidate has conducted his/her life?

It's all very troubling and confusing and I don't have the answers about how the Board might weigh this.

end of update

There are a couple of items of note in the story but I will allow folks to read the story without commentary. 

I will note the last line of the story:

She (Van Arcken) was the most popular candidate based on public feedback from the district’s forum last week.
Also to note:
Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, text


Oversight Needed said...

The Seattle Times reports on school board candidates. One candidate has a criminal record. According to the Seattle Times, the board president has not read the criminal record. It is time for the board president and board members to exercise their oversight duties and READ any criminal records record related to perspective board members.

Jet City mom said...

I have a background check every year as a volunteer in Seattle public schools.

Why would anyone want anyone to have anything to do with Seattle schools who hasn’t?

However, I do think it is good that Smith disclosed her prior issue, and as long as it is resolved and this man isn’t a threat it shouldn’t be a concern.

Brian Hersey sounds like a tremendous resource, but I would worry that the board would take too much time and energy away from what he is already doing.

Frankly any of them sound more qualified than some we have on the ballot in other districts,

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe this article. Focusing on candidate Smith incident is disgusting. Gross.
I am so

Fed Up

Read It! said...

She threatened someone with a bat. That’s some anger.

Anonymous said...

Smith finally told the board on Sept 5th? The story behind why she waited so long is probably more interesting than why Patu waited so long. I bet the actual documents would shed some light on that.

More noise please

Anonymous said...

She hit the woman with a baseball bat. You can't even chaperone in sps with that kind of history.

Not qualified

Public Documents said...

The public would never support this appointment.

Anonymous said...

@Public documents
Are you "The Public"? Let me assure you there is a lot of people standing behind Emijah. She is not alone.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

Also: Hersey is the Age Discrimination candidate. Young man with little experience, of age 27 vs women over 40 who have been involved for more then a minute? Now there’s a bad optic for the sitting board. But, he has passion. So do all 27 yo men who want a political career.

More noise please

Anonymous said...

Fed Up. The Times would be derelict not to report this, reporting on candidates and public officials is THE thing the press does. I was digging how Smith owned it until you started spinning this as some racist conspiracy. Sometimes it’s better to let people tell their own story.


Anonymous said...

@ Unfortunate
haha that is funny. Go ahead and pin this on me. I am anonymous for crying out loud. How can I have so much power over how you decide not to "dig how she owned it"?
My criticism is not on Seattle Times "reporting" this. I am appalled at the way Dahlia Bazzaz chose to focus on the so call incident instead of the issue at hand: finding the most qualified candidate.

Fed Up

Melissa Westbrook said...

Fed Up, the article profiles all three candidates, not just one.

However, the article is a bit odd given what they left out.

Hersey was a paid lobbyist for Big Soda during the sweetened beverage tax campaign. Something that might be worth knowing/considering.

Smith waited a long time to let the Board know about her incident, well after she was selected as a finalist.

As well, if you read the police report and court documents about the incident, a reader might see that,according to the police,the victim was not Smith.

Tomorrow night's discussion should be quite interesting.

Anonymous said...

So fed up you'r saying that not disclosing working for Green Dot and oh a little incident with a bat aimed at another human being are qualifications. I say just the opposite they are disqualifying.

And who wouldn't you want the city to pay more when we have these short falls. Of course the soda tax should be used for SPS. Give it to Lakeside instead? Supposed to be used for those disproportionately affected by the tax. That would probably be title one schools. Geez.


Anonymous said...

If ES makes it through with her history of duplicity and criminal violence; the whole thing should be sent to the courts.

Jester Itch

Anonymous said...

Well why wouldn't BH not say on his disclosure forms that he was paid to advocate against a popular passed sugar tax.

No bat. No charter schools. Not great though. Seems kind of like someone who wanted to turn their SB position into something more. It would be great if that's not the case... He said it wasn't.

Dump trucker

Anonymous said...

@Fed Up, I see you. You’re not powerless. But you choose to get in your own way sometimes.

Thanks Melissa for the additional backstory on Hersey. That information should have absolutely been included in the article. All three candidates are technically “qualified,” but yeah, personal judgment is an important factor too.


Read It! said...

Stepping stones? In the last 35 years, how many people have gone from the school board to higher elected office? I think it’s none. The school board destroys political careers and (Leslie - I’m not going to read it - Harris) reputations.

Anonymous said...

@Dump Trucker -- Where's your proof the soda tax was popular? Voters never approved it. City council did. Then the mayor misused the funds. When given the chance to vote on it, voters said No.

Seattle City Council Approves Tax on Soda, Sugary Drinks

$57 Million in Seattle Soda Tax Money Went to General Fund

Washington Voters Block Future Taxes on Soda

At the last D7 forum, Smith and Hersey both said they oppose soda taxes. They said it's regressive and disproportionately paid by poor people. They're right.

You can criticize Hersey for lobbying against soda tax if you want but you can't change facts.

Tax Fax

Anonymous said...

@Tax Fax “Washington voters” is a key fact. Seattle voters supported it. It is why big soda sought a state wide vote. They needed anti tax Trump voters to weigh in. Otherwise, they would have filed a local referendum for repeal. The taxing poor people line is professional concern trolling.

More noise please

Anonymous said...

@ Unfortunate,
Who are you, my therapist? I am expressing my opinion. Simple.

Fed Up

Jet City mom said...

This illustrates why it’s so important to have non biased and optimally more than one source of info.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I want to correct part of my comment on Hersey representing the soda side for the sweetened beverage tax. I misread and don't know if he was paid or not.

My Motto said...

Ah, yes, that time the school board candidate choked and beat a 20-year-old woman with a metal baseball bat and demanded that she strip naked because a convicted pimp was terrorizing some family member...

Nothing protects against pimp problems better than stripping young girls naked!

kellie said...

My criticism is not on Seattle Times "reporting" this. I am appalled at the way Dahlia Bazzaz chose to focus on the so call incident instead of the issue at hand: finding the most qualified candidate.

I concur with fed up. The most pressing issue is finding the most qualified candidate. While Smith is not my preferred candidate. The timing on this smacks of reality television and gotcha politics.

Why wasn't this story put out sooner, there would be space for the whole story to air.

While I am thrilled that someone is finally covering SPS, Dahlia Bazzaz reporting has been pretty lopsided. She reported on the teacher shortage at Rainier Beach but did not cover that the shortage was district wide and potentially up to 55 missing high school teachers. Her other stories have been equally lopsided. I really don't know who to believe here.

Dial 911 said...

KUOW reports that:

"Smith’s letter continued: “Despite the fact that a protection order was in place to protect my family and home, and the fact that I called the police in advance of the situation, I was arrested. This incident resulted in a misdemeanor that was dismissed over five years ago.”

Records obtained from King County Court report that the police did NOT have a record of Smith calling 911,

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kellie, I knew about this weeks and weeks ago. There's actually more but it is in the distant past. I waited because I didn't know if Smith would be a finalist. Then, after she was, I assumed major media would cover it. (I also knew that I would get my ass kicked if I said anything. Even if it was reporting actual news and not commentary.) I think this reporting would not have the impact it is having had it been disclosed sooner.

If this had been a City Council candidate, I believe it would have been covered much sooner. Why the Times and KUOW waited is a mystery.

I believe this incident goes to judgement. School board is NOT an easy gig and over the years I have heard from director after director how incredibly mean, personal and hateful some small number of the public can be. You have to have a thick skin. You have to own what you say and do as a director.

Again, as parents and the public, you get to decide how much this means to you. Obviously you get no vote (not even at the district's website) but you can email or call the Board,if you feel strongly either way.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dahlia Bazzaz is just a kid out of college. She is working at a dying newspaper and her salary is paid for indirectly by the Gates Foundation. That's right, the Times has to be another PR firm for the Gates foundation just to pay her salary. The Times is liquidating it's holdings and is being shopped around and most of the remaining reporters are biased to the far left, because this is what the paper thinks sells. The past few months there has been multiple controversial stories that are clearly slanted. I read the epoch times these days, I don't agree with some of the editorials but at least they give a balanced view point.


Anonymous said...

Looks like the city should be taxing baseball bats not soda.


Anonymous said...

"He grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, “as a black boy under the most oppressive education system in the country,” an experience he says gives him insight into the systemic racism and funding problems the district faces."

You have got to be kidding, another Black from the south trying to categorize Seattle as racist. In old orange hairs words, go back home!

Seattle is NOT Mississippi, Georgia or Alabama! The community organizer path is worn out and there are 1000s of Black folks in Seattle who don't agree with Hersey.

Based on the strategic plan (yikes) I'm willing to bet that it will be Hersey picked because how can the board know what's best for African American males if there isn't one sitting on the board, right?

God help us!


Melissa Westbrook said...

Rosey, are you black? If not, then I wouldn't go speaking for them.

Is Seattle racist? Yes, it is. In the same ways that the South is? Maybe not but it is surely there.

I'm sure there could be blacks in Seattle who think it's a good place but I think many would say it's a racist place.

Anonymous said...

Debra Jaurez had a DUI and the people of D5 voted for her. I don't believe that what Ms. Smith did, should disqualify her. She was defending her family. The police should have served the restraining order, not some pimp's girlfriend.

I do think that this should have come out sooner. Waiting this long to reveal this, doesn't look good. I totally understand Melissa not wanting to touch this.

All being said though, I still believe that Ms. van Arcken is the best choice. She will be able to hit the ground running.


d7 parent said...

This is like Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan all over again!

Anonymous said...

Well I don't think Seattle is racist. Are there people who are racist? sure. Are there black people who hate white people, probably. I don't think you have seen systemic racism like there is in the south and it goes both ways.

How about Minneapolis is that city racist? How about South Africa is the country racist?

Don't worry about my color, I'm many colors, a mix of several races and I do not have any fear going to any area in Seattle day or night. You can't say that about a racist city.


Stop bashing Seattle said...

It takes a very wide brush to paint a city as racist. In the macro sense Seattle could not be labeled as racist. Some activist are just jumping on the boat in hopes of becoming relevant to those who are misinformed.

Anonymous said...


KUOW's piece is damming. ES seemed defensive and angry to me at the last forum. I'm sure that's how she was when she attacked that poor girl. Defensive and angry. And in all the mockery she can muster claims assaulting an unarmed person and telling them to strip makes her a better advocate for those who suffer, well the same behavior. No this is not a normal event and no she wasn't the victim. She was the perpetrator of a crime that was pled down and now is being minimized. Nowhere does she apologize or show remorse for this clearly wrong headed thing to do. I can't say that she learned a damn thing from this process. It's clearly evident in her letter to the board. She talks about people coming to her house. Police report says there's only one person.

I would say that her actions nearly 7 years ago might be overlooked by the most sympathetic but not the letter sent in the middle of this process. She claims there's misrepresentations in what was communicated to the board. But she doesn't clear up anything. She just tries to twist the story "dangerous adults" she says. Nope. A single female who she tossed around her porch like a ragdoll. And hit several times with a baseball bat. That's not defensive. That's assault with a deadly weapon.

"Why hasn't she withdrawn her name for consideration?" should have been the headline of that piece. Perhaps that is why they waited until today to publish the report. Hoping common sense would prevail. Her letter makes her unqualified to serve on the board.

Possible jailtime

Stop bashing Seattle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Court Documents said...

Court documents reveal information that hasn't been released via press or blog.

Voters will never have a chance to decide whether or not they want a particular candidate in this race. The board should not invite controversy.

I don't want to hear a single board member state that they haven't read court documents. Making informed decisions is part of their oversight duties.

Stop bashing Seattle said...

D7 will soon be a majority white so the election in 2 years will look very different than this process. Patu knew this and rigged the process to seat a POC. The property values in any of the new north end up-zone areas is around $280 per sqft just for the dirt. That means you have to pay $1.24 million for a tiny 4500 sqft lot, because of this I see that Amazon workers are snapping up properties in D7 and building new homes at an increasing rate. Anyone working for minimum wage has been priced out of Seattle 10 years ago.

Nuh Uh said...

Emijah was 40 years old when she beat up a 20 year old girl?!?!

Anonymous said...

Seattle is as racist as anywhere in many of it's policies but something must be working because ES got into the "racist" advanced learning program. And despite being black she was able to plead down assault with a deadly weapon to a misdemeanor. Now she's claiming that assaulting someone makes her a better person/ candidate. And misleading the board is no big deal because she's the victim of all of this fake news.

She should have quit but instead she doubled down. So yeah Seattle is racist especially if they decide to ignore the lies, indignation and serious lack of judgment shown in the last few weeks.

Possible jailtime

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Stop bashing Seattle, you are way off. Patu has never operated like that and you're just making stuff up.

Readers, you can comment on the situation but you cannot say racist things. Cease and desist.

Elsa said...

I agree with Read it!

Nobody reads anymore but we should expect more from policy makers.

Yikes said...

I'm not comfortable reaching out to this candidate. I read the court documents. They are chilling.

Anonymous said...

Stop Bashing Seattle's claims about Betty Patu are laughable and shows true ignorance about Patu. She's known for her straightforward focus on kids and her lack of interest in playing politics. Bashing & Bazzaz at the Times are wasting their time with their obsession on this red herring.
The board gets to appoint a replacement for a vacated seat just like the city council gets to fill vacancies (even for mayors.) What matters now is who's the best candidate of the final three.

Get Overit

D7 parent said...

d7 parent is NOT D7 parent. d7 parent, please use a different name as I have been posting under that for awhile.

Anonymous said...

KUOW says In a report, the police detective wrote :

Smith retrieved a metal baseball bat and grabbed the woman by the scarf, and hit the woman five to six times on one leg. Smith used the scarf to drag her back and forth on the porch and then blocked way off the porch and told the woman she couldn’t go unless she stripped naked.

When police officers arrived, they saw Smith standing over the young woman, who, they said, “was sitting cross-legged on the floor of the front porch.”

The woman was shaking and crying and looked up at the officer and cried, “Please help me.”

Her coat, shoes, and one sock were off.

In her letter to the board Smith wrote, "Dangerous adults came unto my property, my home, unannounced, trying to harm my family."
And, "I was arrested."
She skipped right over her own actions that led to her arrest.
The "dangerous adult" was an unarmed 20 year old woman, who was alone.

Sounds like Smith misled the board.

Character matters

Anonymous said...

And director Geary and Pinkham voted for her. That's oversight? I was going to be pretty happy with either Hersey or van Arken but two votes to someone who misled the board (lied) and none for Julie who was unequally qualified.

That's racist