A letter to the editor in this morning’s Everett Herald attacks Snohomish County Councilman (and current Council President) Dave Somers - essentially accusing him of derailing the efforts of the cities of Lake Stevens and Snohomish to bring a UW branch campus to their area. The LTE states in part:
”During the discussion of the Lake Stevens site for the UW campus, Snohomish County Councilman Dave Somers asserted that county-owned lands should be excluded from the site plan because work is going forward on making it into a park.”
The land in question is a 40 acre parcel that is owned by the county and is included in the county’s Comprehensive Plan. The letter writer goes on to say,
” In 2007, when the land was added to the UW site proposal and reached the final site consideration stage -- only then did Councilman Somers speaks up to say, "Oh, wait -- it's supposed to be a park!"”
What the writer fails to mention is that the land was “added to the UW site proposal” by the County Executive with no notice provided to the council; in particular, Councilman Somers, in whose district this site would be located. Finally, after suggesting that Somers is ”…falling all over yourself to support the Everett Station UW site…” the writer ends with this lovely parting shot,
”I assume County Council members get very nice offices high up in the shiny County Administrative building. Somers' office must look to the west, because it seems like he's turning his back on his constituents in Lake Stevens.”
Now it might be easy to assume that this is simply a republican smear campaign launched in an effort to reclaim this swing seat for that party. However it takes no time at all to determine that the letter writer, Don Speirs is an active PCO in the 44th LD Democrats organization! But wait! There’s more. Apparently this letter is simply a continuation of an attack that was begun by yet another Democratic PCO from the 44th LD.
Just last week in the Lake Steven Journal, ”former” Managing Editor and current columnist, Kevin Hulten had this to say about his county councilman,
”…That being said, I just about lost it when our County Councilman Dave Somers opened his mouth to testify.
Somers claimed that he “stayed on the sidelines” until a site in his district (the Cavelero site supported by the cities of Lake Stevens and Snohomish, among others) “failed”. Of course, he was referring to the Lake Stevens site. If he read the NBBJ report, he would realize that the report opened by stating that the study had found that ALL FOUR sites were completely viable for the housing of a UW campus. Second, he hardly stayed on the sidelines, instead deciding to chip away from behind the scenes, taking multiple meetings with his no-growth puppet masters (Emphasis TLS) (who support Everett) and firing off angry quotes to the media questioning the land involved in the Lake Stevens proposal – quotes that just happened to end up on the front page of the Herald.”
Again, as to the “stayed on the sidelines” aspect, Somers says that he had no indication that the 40 acre parcel in question was even being considered for this purpose until he was contacted by the Everett Herald for comment. His “angry quotes to the media”?
”“County Councilman Dave Somers said he was surprised to learn that important county park land in his district was offered for the new UW campus. Residents have been calling him and complaining ever since.
The County Council has control over county-owned land and Reardon didn't consult council members, Somers said.
"I made the governor's office aware of my general concerns about it, not trying to throw a wrench in the works at this point," Somers said. "Hopefully that will be taken into consideration."”
Wow, 83 words out an article that ran some 705 words with one fully attributed quote. As to the tenor of his remarks, if this is how anger is being expressed in the media these days, there is no wonder we are where we are in our political discourse. ”… Dave Somers said he was surprised…” “I made the governor's office aware of my general concerns about it, not trying to throw a wrench in the works at this point," Somers said…” Yep, pretty vicious stuff there, huh?
Hulten rants a bit more; including this little ditty, ”…The activist raised hell with Somers about the inclusion of this “park” land in the proposal, and Somers responded to the jerking of his stings (Emphasis TLC) by airing his concerns to the press.” and then concludes with this not so veiled threat:
”…I certainly will remember the work Somers did to undermine the work of his constituents the next time I vote, and I’m sure others will as well. If this is his idea of “staying on the sidelines”, then I hope his council district constituents will work to show him what it really looks like from the sidelines after his next election cycle.”
Did I mention these guys are Democrats? I guess I might have also mentioned that Hulten’s new “day job” since he “stepped down” as the Managing Editor of the Lake Stevens Journal is as Legislative Aide for 44th LD State Senator Steve Hobbs. That would be the same Steve Hobbs who lost a very bitter and controversial primary race against Councilman Somers in 2005 and who, last year, sponsored his own legislation (SB 6490) to establish a UW branch campus in – you guessed it – Lake Stevens/Snohomish. Now I can’t imagine that Sen. Hobbs would be condoning these attacks on his fellow elected Democrat. However, if this is indeed the opening salvo in a primary challenge against Somers, it probably wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that will be one endorsement Dave shouldn’t be counting on.
[UPDATE - 1:37PM 01/31/2008] In a response to members of the 44th LD, Dave Somers has provided a rebutal to Kevin Hulten's article in the LSJ. I provide an excerpt of that email here:
"...I respect everyone’s right to express their opinion, as long as it is supported by facts and reason. Kevin’s column, published in the Lake Stevens Journal, is based on his reason supported not by facts but fabrications. Beyond being full of easily checked errors, it also attributes to me a quote that is not true.
I have submitted a response to the Lake Stevens Journal and I hope it will be printed. It is unfortunate however that I am now put in a position of having to defend myself against false statements of somebody who is supposedly a democrat and who is in a hired position with a Democratic official. I guess my 2009 reelection campaign is starting early.
First, my testimony before the Senate can be found on TVW . The hearing was 1/24/08 before the Senate Higher Education Committee. My testimony starts at time 38:14. If you can find the word “failed” in my testimony, as quoted by Kevin in his article, I will eat my Husky Band hat – and it was a big hat.
Second, the County property (40 acres), is indeed owned by the Parks Department and money to develop the park is in our Capital Improvement Plan ( page 44 of the 2006-2011 CIP), despite Kevin’s claims to the contrary. A simple Google search or phone call would have cleared this up for Kevin. The park is also necessary to meet our Comprehensive Plan level of service for parks. My contact with the Governors office and the consultant were to advise them that if the land was sold to the University, we would have to replace it in the near vicinity in order to be in compliance with our Comprehensive Plan. This was an important factor that the consultant needed to be aware of.
Third, I did not contact the press with angry quotes. The Everett Herald contacted me – this is how I learned the County Executive had submitted a letter offering the park property for the University site. I nor the County Council had no prior knowledge of this letter until I received inquiries from the media, despite the fact that the park is in my Council district.
Finally, my door is open to all. I meet with the Master Builders Association as well as Futurewise. I am committed to the long term health and quality of life in Snohomish County that takes all perspectives into account.
I understand Kevin is disappointed that Lake Stevens was ranked 4th of the sites, and that the County Council voted 4/1 to support the findings of the $ 1 million study and public process. I am equally disappointed that Kevin decided to attack me in a printed article and that his column was so filled with easily checked errors. I am also disappointed that a fellow Democrat would call for my election defeat based on this misinformation.
I only hope that I can welcome the UW to Snohomish County and that I can be there for the opening of the Cavelero Hill Community Park."
Snohomish County Council
Chad (The Left) Shue