Mayor's text messages to council member show 'Jungle' political fight

SEATTLE -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray threatened to pull police from the streets if a city councilmember introduced legislation that he said would hamstring his administration's ability to clear out "The Jungle" – the homeless campsites along and underneath Interstate 5 south of downtown.

SEATTLE -- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray threatened to pull police from the streets if a city councilmember introduced legislation that he said would hamstring his administration’s ability to clear out “The Jungle” – the homeless campsites along and underneath Interstate 5 south of downtown.

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Starting on Saturday, May 21, Murray text messaged Councilmember Sally Bagshaw asking to speak with her as soon as possible. Without further explanation, he texted: “If you do resolution on homelessness restricting our ability to deal with the rapes and other violent crime and the bike chop shops down there in the jungle I will stop all clean ups throughout the City and pull police off enforcement. We are losing the ability to control our streets.” (Read the full exchange below)

Bagshaw was one of several councilmembers who raised concerns about Murray’s plans to offer services to homeless people from the jungle and remove people from living in the area within two weeks. Murray announced those plans on May 17.

Bagshaw responded to Murray’s texts, asking to confirm it was indeed Murray who had messaged her.

Murray confirmed that he was the sender. He said he would be traveling back to Seattle the next day with his husband and wouldn’t be able to talk while en route.

He wrote to Bagshaw: “I am getting media calms (sic) that you are leading a council effort to stop our efforts in the jungle. I am stunned so I should talk with you before I respond.”

The texts were first reported by The Seattle Times and The Stranger.

Bagshaw and Murray’s exchange continued into the next day, Sunday, May 22. Murray continued to ask Bagshaw to call him, at one point saying that he had heard she was refusing to talk with him because she feared he would yell at her. “Scott Lindsey (sic) said you won’t speak with me because I will yell at you. I have always been with staff when I meet with you and I have never yelled at you.”

Scott Lindsay is the mayor’s lead aide on homeless issues.

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In the exchange, Bagshaw assures Murray that she is still “gathering information and community comments” and promised to share a draft of her legislation with Murray’s staff.

Asked about the exchange on Monday afternoon, Bagshaw said only that she enjoys working with the mayor on issues important to the city.

Murray’s office echoed Bagshaw in comments released to The Seattle Times and The Stranger.

Just days after the May 21-22 text message conversation with Bagshaw, Murray revised the timeline for clearing out The Jungle. He said the city would continue to work to get services to those residents who need them.

“I don’t have the answers, we’re actually making this up as we go along,” Murray said on May 25.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's office released a statement regarding the text message exchange:

With a plan for meaningful offers of shelter, and medical and chemical dependency services on the table, the mayor was exasperated about the difficulty in developing a consensus on how to move people out of the very dangerous situation in the I-5 East Duwamish Greenbelt. The mayor was committed to the idea that every resident in that area receive personalized attention during this initial phase of intensive outreach. The significant time difference between Asia and Seattle further complicated communications.

As a result of conversations with the Mayor's Office, Councilmember Bagshaw's revised resolution was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Council, and the Mayor will concur. The final resolution text is consistent with existing City policies regarding unpermitted encampments and the Mayor's plan for the I-5 East Duwamish Greenbelt.

The mayor has deep respect for Councilmember Bagshaw. They enjoy a productive working relationship and the mayor looks forward to continuing to partner with her on how to improve the City's response to homelessness.

Transcription of text message exchange between Mayor Murray and Council member Sally Bagshaw:

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Sat, 5/21/16

Ed Murray (7:27pm): This is Ed Murray could you call me at (number).

Sally Bagshaw (7:34pm): Tomorrow ok? Otherwise 19:30

Murray (8:16pm): If you do resolution on homelessness restricting our ability to deal with the rapes and other violent crimes and bike chop shops down there in the jungle I will stop all clean ups throughout the City and pull police off enforcement. We are losing the ability to control our streets.

Bagshaw (9:02pm): Is this really from you Mr. Mayor?

Murray (9:12pm): Yes.

Murray (9:54pm): Still trying to reach you. Time difference and we are coming back early so tracking all day tomorrow.

Murray (10:04pm): …we are coming back early which means I will be on a plane all day. So I need to speak with you this evening Seattle time. I am getting media calms (sic) that you are leading council effort to stop our efforts in the jungle. I am stunned so I should talk with you before I respond.

Sun, 5/22/16

Bagshaw (3:45am): …I am still gathering information and community comments. I will definitely share a draft with Mike Fong, Scott, Anthony, Maggie and Leslie for their input as well. Have a safe flight.

Murray (3:47am): I assume it is 4am in the morning so I won’t call now. I am absolutely taken aback by your lack of collaboration. Don’t get it.

Murray (4:11am): So I will stay up until I hear from you

Murray (1:29pm): Still waiting to hear from you.

Murray (10:46pm): Scott Lindsey (sic) said you won’t speak with me because I will yell at you. I have always been with staff when I meet with you and I have never yelled at you.

Murray (10:46pm): I have been forceful in my profound disagreement with you on how to approach homelessness, based on the consultants critique of the City.

Murray (10:46pm): I am now going to skip s (sic) flight in an attempt to reach you.

Murray (10:46pm): Sally I don’t know what is going on, but for the sake of the City will you please speak with me?

Bagshaw (10:56pm): I just tried to reach you. I am planning to meet Hyeok and Mike and Scott early Monday.

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