We always knew a trip to Parkland could be dangerous, but not like this.
The mayor of Tacoma took her show on the road and stepped in the doo-doo. She appeared before a small, friendly group of students on the Pacific Lutheran University campus and promptly stepped in it – not once, but twice.
Who knows what’ll take longer for Mayor Marilyn Strickland to scrape from her shoes: the inflammatory comments she made, or the ham-fisted way she and her minions tried to control the damage by hunting down the student journalist who (gasp!) wrote down what she said.
The evening started out well enough. Strickland and City Councilman Ryan Mello met with the Young Democrats on Nov. 17, intent on firing them up about politics. But Strickland got a little too fiery when she was asked about the other political party and its relationship with black voters.
Student photojournalist Kevin Knodell, who went mostly unnoticed in the room despite his press badge and camera, says he clearly heard what the mayor said next. He wrote it in his notebook.
No, Strickland said, Republicans can’t effectively court the black vote because “you can’t get around that they’re racist.”
Strickland told The Schnoz she meant to say the GOP’s big challenge is the perception they’re racist. She said blacks and Republicans actually share many values.
“I probably didn’t choose my words as carefully as I should,” she conceded Thursday.
Credit the mayor for saying “oops.” How about we make it a double?
Stepping in doo, part deux: It must not have taken long for the mayor to realize her careless word choice, because within hours her sleuths in the Young Dems spy network were in hot pursuit of Knodell, a photographer for The Mast student newspaper.
It’s not like they violated the Patriot Act. But it’s funny how they tracked down Knodell’s name and cellphone number so fast. They gave it to Strickland, who made a surprise call to him before noon the next day.
“Basically, she said she’d really gotten excited during the event and at some point forgot that there was someone in the room taking notes,” Knodell said. “She wondered what type of article I was writing, what angle I was taking.”
He told her he’s a photographer and wasn’t planning to write an article. Knodell is a big boy – 23 years old, a fifth-year senior who graduates this semester. He said Strickland was courteous to him. Still, ya think a big-city mayor placing an out-of-the-blue phone call to a college student she’s never met might be playing a little game of intimidation?
Strickland says no, though she grants it could be taken that way.
“That’s not my style, I don’t go around trying to stop journalists or stop a story.”
She didn’t stop it. In fact, her version of damage control accomplished the opposite.
Lutegate epilogue: Knodell, the photojournalist, was asked by his editors to write about his peculiar introduction to Tacoma politicians.
You can read his story in today’s Mast, available online at www.plu.edu/mast. (Note: This link may not work because the university shut down the newspaper website Friday afternoon for unrelated reasons.)
Memo to the young muckraker: Way to go.
Memo to the mayor: In America’s No. 1 Wired City and in the wider wired world, there is no safe place to say something stupid.
Also, pay heed to press badges, even when they look like they were cut out of a milk carton.
His name says it all: The most beautiful thing about this week’s big football announcement from Wazzu? The fact that the guy now tied with U-Dub coach Steve Sarkisian as the highest-paid public employee in Washington state goes by the name “Leach.”
In a case so strange even TV courtroom drama writers couldn’t have come up with it, a gay softball league settled this week with three players who sued after they were disqualified from a 2008 tournament south of Seattle.
Their team lost its trophy because the three men were deemed bisexual, not gay.
Get all that straight?
Too bad it didn’t go to trial. We would’ve sat in the front row with a box of Crackerjack to see it play out.
Not sure why league organizers didn’t expect more roster diversity in the first place. In baseball, it’s common knowledge that no team can succeed without a couple switch hitters.
Got news for The Nose? Write to TheNose@thenewstribune.com.