Last week on The Daily Weekly Nina Shapiro attempted to go beyond the headlines of the scrap between Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and City Attorney Pete Holmes and explain the personalities behind the feud. Specifically, Shapiro focused on Holmes - the one-time bankruptcy lawyer who's risen to one of the most important elected posts the city has to offer and now isn't taking any crap from McGinn.
As Shapiro's post notes:
Isn't Holmes the guy who, dressed in jeans and speaking in his slight southern drawl, could recently be seen stumping for marijuana legalization? Shouldn't he be a little more, well, mellow?
No, actually. To understand Holmes, you have to look back to his emergence on the public scene in the early aughts, when the then bankruptcy lawyer gained a seat on the citizens' board starting up at the time to review the police department's Office of Professional Accountability. Some people thought that Holmes was too mild and conventional for the job. He proved anything but.
He launched a fierce battle for transparency, and what really got him going was the resistance he faced from then City Attorney Tom Carr. The battle between the two men got ugly and personal--kind of like the fracas we're seeing now between Holmes and McGinn. Like our current mayor, Carr attacked Holmes, charging that the OPA review board chair had overstepped his role. Holmes reacted testily and dug his heels in, just as he is doing now.
The man's got a temper, which flares up when offended. He's evidently offended now, after a six-page letter from the mayor's legal counsel charging Holmes with violating the state's rules of professional conduct for not abiding by SPD's wishes in negotiations with
police monitor Merrick Bobb and the Department of Justice.
A bigger surprise than the way he's currently behaving is the role he has played since taking office in 2009. Specifically, on police issues, he has not proved the force for transparency that he was as a citizen. His office has aggressively tried to stop the release of dash-cam videos, even suing an attorney who demanded such videos. (Note: That attorney, James Egan, threatened a lawsuit himself, which may well have tripped Holmes' stubborn side.)
Now, in taking a stance that veers from the police department, Holmes is merely returning to form. His position is that he, as an elected official, represents the city's interests as a whole, not just SPD's.
To which commenter davidstoesz responds:
Thank you. This is the only clear story on this issue that I've seen. I feel like I almost understand what the hell is going on now!