Holland’s blame game well-liked
When a story in The Seattle Times detailed first-term Port Commissioner Rob Holland’s troubles, including misuse of his Port credit card, some of Seattle’s clubby public leaders were quick to pounce — on the media, not Holland’s behavior.
Seattle Times staff columnist
I’m not surprised that Seattle Port Commissioner Rob Holland blamed The Seattle Times for his resignation last week.
That seems to be part of his M.O. It’s somebody else’s fault.
But the rest of you public officials who circled your wagons around Holland, even as he was stepping down — what’s the deal with you?
Holland, a first-termer at the Port of Seattle Commission, said he was resigning after we ran an article about how he’d abused his Port credit card, started two failed businesses with a convicted child pornographer, had a warrant out for his arrest in Pierce County six months ago and ... well it goes on. I think we can all agree it was conduct unbecoming a public leader.
But we didn’t all agree. Far from it.
“The Seattle Times A/K/A the local National Enquirer gossip rag is responsible,” accused another Port Commissioner, John Creighton.
Creighton explained on Facebook why he blames us:“The Times caused the resignation of one of my most valued colleagues ... In the old days, city newspapers used to care about the welfare of their communities. It has appeared to me for some time that the Times only cares about selling papers.”
In our dreams a story about the Port of Seattle could move some newspapers! Probably most readers reacted to this expose about Rob Holland by saying: “Who?”
But setting that aside, Creighton’s post blaming The Seattle Times was cheered on by an array of public leaders. It was “liked” on Facebook by Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien; by the head of the Seattle Human Rights Commission; by the chairman of the King County Democrats; and by the board chairman of the Seattle Housing Authority, among others.
The latter, John Littel, wrote: “I thought as I read that hatchet job on Rob that it was the worst thing I’ve seen in that rag. What a shame and a disgrace.”
An influential union among local governments, The Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council, went further. The head of the council, Lee Newgent, called it a “trashing” and added: “The Building Trades stands by our endorsement of (Holland), and we made a motion on Tuesday to address the Times article.”
I called to ask what that means exactly but haven’t heard back. Creighton also declined to comment further.
Look, I get that the messenger gets shot, and that’s fine. But these reactions suggest these people who work in and around public service have set an awfully low bar for that service.
O’Brien, of the City Council, said he didn’t “like” Creighton’s comments because he agreed with them 100 percent.
“The part I agreed with is that Rob is a good person trying to represent the public as best he can,” O’Brien said.
But that’s kind of the key point. If this was the best Holland could do — the credit card and business problems, the arrest warrant and all the rest — then may I suggest that at the very least he’s not cut out for public service right now?
That such an obvious statement even needs to be made says something not-so-flattering about Seattle’s one-party politics.
Not to Holland. Speaking at a Port meeting Tuesday, he said the chief problem here is that Seattle’s newspaper “ ... has not educated us, it has cheapened us.” He declined to score the effects of his own behavior.
Creighton was blunter, calling The Seattle Times “morons with an agenda.”
At this point I plead guilty to the moron charge. Because I have no clue what world these people are living in.
Danny Westneat’s column appears Wednesday and Sunday.
Reach him at 206-464-2086 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Danny Westneat
Danny Westneat takes an opinionated look at the Puget Sound region's news, people and politics. Send tips or comments to email@example.com. His column runs Wednesday and Sunday.
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