Posts made in August, 2011

Rita Zawaideh is one of my dearest friends and has been recognized locally and nationally as an activist, humanitarian, and businessperson. There is almost no one in Washington politics, from the Governor, our two Senators, and our congresspeople who does not know her on a first name basis. And she’s been harassed by the city of Seattle this year in a very un-American way. She gives tirelessly of herself to aid immigrants by holding fundraisers, including garage sales. If she can be targeted in this way, so can any of us. Please distribute this widely, and follow-up with two actions: 1. Call and email Seattle DPD Director Diane Sugimura: 206-233-3882, 2. Call and email Mayor McGinn: 206-684-4000, (For more info see Real Change News article ) Laws of Invention: Seattle DPD and Creative Enforcement by Howard J. Gale The City of Seattle Department of Planing and Development (DPD), welcomes people to its website with a message from Director Diane Sugimura stating the DPD’s “commitment to making our services accessible and understandable. Our primary goal is to provide you with quality service as we carry out our mission–managing growth and development within Seattle in a way that enhances quality of life.” Rita Zawaideh’s recent experience with the DPD trying to quash her now famous charity garage sales in Wallingford (at Bridge Way N & N 38th St), looks at first glance like a case of one individual who ran afoul of city red tape. Further investigation into the DPD’s actions has revealed some serious issues of accountability lurking behind the DPD’s citizen friendly facade. I reviewed dozens of records from the DPD, obtained under Washington State’s Public Disclosure Act, to investigate what was behind DPD’s zealous prosecution of Zawaideh. A review of what I’ve learned over the last three months reveals impropriety and bias. While the source and nature of the bias remains unclear (dislike of Arabs, immigrants, activists, or just people who have garage sales?), the information at a minimum documents DPD favoritism, selective enforcement, defensiveness bordering on the paranoid, and an undue fascination with the background of people who might complain about DPD actions. The information I’ve seen indicates an irrational unwillingness on the part of Sugimura, as director of the DPD, to respond to citizen complaints in a constructive fashion. Unusual speed of response: Less than 24 hours after a single complaint was filed concerning Zawaideh’s garage sale, the DPD telephoned the person who complained and then promptly issued a “Service Request” (the first step in investigating a suspected violation). A site “inspection” followed in four business days — an unusually speedy response from the DPD for a potential violation...

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