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Re USS Alabama and the Seattle Police Guild

by GUY GALLIPEAU & BOB HEGAMIN    August 24, 2000

We were appalled by the actions of some members of the Seattle City Council in two recent incidents involving the USS Alabama and the Seattle Police Guild. In each, we consider the act of placing their personal agenda ahead of their sworn duty as Councilmembers a misuse of their elective office and a violation of their "oath of office."

In their rush to repay specific political debts at a politically opportune time, we find they had involved themselves in events over which the Council had no jurisdiction. In doing so, we consider their efforts to rescind Seafair's invitation to the nuclear submarine "USS Alabama", and the presentation by the Seattle Police Guild's award to Officer Tom Doran - unlawful. In addition, lobbying their fellow members for such personal issues was, if nothing else, outrageous.

On the surface, the similarity of the two political events and the notoriety given to each appear to be just simple cases of pandering to groups they were trying to impress. But, were they?

USS ALABAMA: The people of Seattle should be reminded that their City officials neither voluntarily honored nor acknowledged the military after its victory in the Gulf War, which provoked no public outcry. However, we consider the "protest" by Councilmembers Richard Conlin, Nick Licata, and Judy Nicastro against the visit of the USS Alabama more than just a case of pandering to those opposed to the military.

The visit of the USS Alabama to Seattle was neither a threat nor illegal, but just one of many naval ships and aircraft that made their appearance during Seafair. It was an unusual opportunity for those who are proud of their friends, relatives and fellow Americans in the service of their country, to see how and with what they protect the freedoms of this country.

We find the acts of Councilmembers Conlin and Licata both insulting as well as a violation of their "oath of office." They had attempted to censor what Americans could see or visit only because the USS Alabama did not agree with their morality of what is "politically correct."

SEATTLE POLICE GUILD: Much had already been said and written about the fatal shooting of David John Walker by Officer Tom Doran of the Seattle Police Department. Even more controversy was added when Doran received the Officer of the Month award from the Seattle Police Guild - not for the shooting, but allegedly as a symbol of support.

This statement, however, is intended to address the act of Councilmembers Judy Nicastro, Peter Steinbrueck, and Richard McIver, who became unlawful intruders when they improperly behaved as activists - not elected officials - to correct a perceived "Guild" wrong. Their attempt to coerce fellow members to join them in rescinding the award then became outrageous.

We find it unconscionable for members of the City Council to misuse the power of their office to intimidate by censuring private citizens, organizations or businesses. We understand that all citizens still have the constitutional right to conduct their own lawful practices, especially when they don't conform to a government's non-constitutional edict of "political correctness."