Media, Qwest Field


Fourteen months ago, Seattle Times Executive Editor Michael Fancher wrote in his weekly Page 2 column that Stephen Dunphy, the paper's senior business writer, was acquiring the honored title of associate editor to reflect his status as an especially valuable presence in the paper. "Dunphy's readers needn't fret," Fancher wrote in 2003. "He'll continue his normal huge load of reporting and writing. I'm not sure how he'll do it, but I can't figure out how he does as much as he does already. The combination of daily item columns, weekly explanatory columns and other reporting is sort of like being a tri-athlete." Well, apparently the tri-athlete was using banned substances. Last Sunday, Aug. 22, Fancher wrote of Dunphy again, this time on the front page, reporting that Dunphy had resigned in light of at least five instances since 1997 of plagiarism. The paper is continuing to check his work, Fancher said, and was calling in a journalism ethicist to counsel top editors and other staffers. As for Dunphy, Fancher said he was "heartbroken" and quoted him as saying that he probably tried "to be more than I could be"—that workload inspired shortcuts. "It was not intentional in the sense of some other cases of plagiarism that have surfaced recently," Dunphy told Fancher. "I was not trying to make up things." During his 37 years at the Times, Dunphy served as business editor twice but excelled as an avuncular senior correspondent and columnist. He was frequently on the road, often in Asia, and for those of us who worked with him, it was astonishing how productive he could be. Among the unanswered questions is whether these cases of intellectual dishonesty were the extent of the problem, or nearly so, or if the whole body of work by this nice man is tainted. CHUCK TAYLOR

Qwest Field

Eighteen months ago, state Attorney General Christine Gregoire was adamant about billionaire Paul Allen having to disclose the finances of his Seattle Seahawks football team as part of his stadium-building agreement with taxpayers. A "must disclose" ruling from her office was "the definitive opinion on this matter," she said. The deal that gave Allen $300 million to build what is now called Qwest Field means he had to reveal what kind of return he was getting on the taxpayers' dime (see "Allen's Draw Play," May 23, 2003). But that was before one of Gregoire's deputies met with two politically connected Seattle attorneys, Gerry Johnson and Jay Reich, hired by the supposedly independent Public Stadium Authority to argue its, and Allen's, similar positions against full disclosure. A couple of weeks ago, now-gubernatorial-candidate Gregoire flip-flopped: The law was no longer definitive. She issued a statement saying it was up to legislators either to clarify the law, give her gobs of money to sue Allen, or do nothing. The latter course is the likely outcome, says Tacoma News Tribune columnist Peter Callaghan, who has dogged this story from the start. (The Seattle dailies have been uninterested.) He notes the Legislature is unlikely to take on Allen, who has given more than $100,000 to lawmaker campaigns. "The public policy implications are severe," Callaghan says. "A billionaire's threat of an aggressive legal defense of the indefensible might cause the state to let him continue to break the law." RICK ANDERSON

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