Holding out an olive branch, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said today he wants to sit down with City Attorney Pete Holmes, Police Chief John Diaz and Merrick Bobb, the independent monitor overseeing police reforms, to halt public fighting that has broken out over how to proceed with changes involving the Seattle Police Department.
“I really regret that we’re at this position publicly,” McGinn said during an appearance on KIRO Radio’s “Ross and Burbank Show.” “I really have to say that. It’s not where I think either of us want to be.”
In a written statement, Holmes’ office said it was pleased with the offer and that it has always been willing to listen to the mayor and Police Department.
But the statement said no accord could be reached until McGinn “withdraws and disclaims” a letter and memorandum sent Tuesday that contained “inaccurate and unwarranted accusations and assertions, and even called for litigation” between the mayor and city attorney to resolve who has the authority to approve Bobb’s proposed monitoring plan for the Police Department.
Until that occurs, the statement said, the City Attorney’s Office will continue to prepare a response and get ready for a court hearing next before U.S. District Judge James Robart. Robart is overseeing the city’s settlement agreement with the Justice Department to address findings of excessive force in the Police Department and evidence of biased policing.
McGinn said in the radio interview that he was sorry about the fighting. He has accused Holmes of undercutting his concerns with Bobb’s proposals and unethically interfering in negotiations with Bobb.
In suggesting a meeting, McGinn told KIRO: “Let’s hash out together what the plan of action is moving together because that’s the way we’re really going to get things done a lot faster.”
McGinn’s tone sharply contrasted with Tuesday’s letter sent by his legal counsel to Holmes, which framed McGinn’s legal position that it is his role to respond to Bobb’s proposed plan to carry out police reforms.
In the letter, Carl Marquardt invited Holmes and Jean Boler, chief of the civil division in the City Attorney’s Office, to “join us in seeking” a declaratory judgment in state court to resolve their difference of opinion over whether McGinn or Holmes holds the power to accept the monitor’s plan.
The court also would resolve Holmes’ obligations under attorney rules of professional conduct, Marquardt wrote.
“The pattern that has emerged is that when you are engaged in this matter, and disagreements arise, you work to characterize the Mayor as being opposed to police reform in order to advance your position,” Marquart wrote.
Holmes has pushed for a more collaborative approach to working with Bobb.
Bobb submitted his 23-page plan to Robart on Tuesday, listing proposed measures to carry out changes, some of which have drawn opposition from McGinn and Diaz.
Holmes has steadfastly denied that he has acted unethically and said, as the elected city attorney, he has sought to work in the best interests of the city under the City Charter.