Dear Mayor Murray,
This is not the letter I wanted to write. My hope after you dropped out from your bid for re-election - and took ownership and apologized for the way in which you lashed out following the publishing of the D.H. v. Murray lawsuit - was that it would be over, and we could move on. While others called for your immediate resignation, I didn't go that far.
Your tenure as Mayor has been better than I think people give credit. Passage of the Seattle Minimum Wage, secure scheduling, steps on police reform, opening up the idea of pre-school for all Seattle kids, ramping up investment in transportation infrastructure, buying back cut Metro hours. These were all pretty major lifts. Personally, I was honored to work with you and your team to completely reshape how we fund parks in Seattle, and two years after that, to manage the campaign doubling Seattle's Housing Levy - achieving an unthinkable 70.6% yes vote on an August ballot. I still have the pen from the signing ceremony for the Seattle Park District.
That's not to say you didn't have your flaws as Mayor. As you told me, you did not care for my very open criticism of your administration's handling of homelessness with the sweeps policy that was ineffective at finding adequate housing for so many of our neighbors. But Pathways Home has some promise, and taking the politically risky move of delving into contracts with Human Services is a good move (so long as it's not a pure numbers metric the city opts to use to determine "best practices" - as you know, the human element in Human Services does not do well with a strictly quantitative approach).
But these accomplishments will be forever overshadowed. And, unlike Mike Lowry, I'm not sure you'll have the same long-term stature that would otherwise accompany your legislative legacy - both as a productive and effective Mayor, and a productive and effective State Legislator. It isn't just the headline - "Seattle Mayor Ed Murray sexually abused foster son, child-welfare investigator found in 1984" - but the response and the path to this point that I fear will tarnish your record forever.
Through your attorneys, you are attempting to discredit a system designed to protect children. That your attorneys, ostensibly with your consent, would stoop so low as to imply that children are believed too often is terrifying. But looking further at the information from the 1984 case file - we see that you took a polygraph, and then refused to release the results; that you were aware the investigation was happening; that shortly after the investigation concluded with a result of "founded," and you being permanently barred from fostering children in Oregon, you left that state for Seattle. You claim now that you never knew the outcome, but that is incredibly difficult to believe - a D.A. was involved, you had an attorney involved, and notice is a requirement now as it was then. You chose then not to appeal the finding. And now you and your team has decided you want to re-litigate the matter in the press here in Seattle.
While your supporter Council Member Bruce Harrell has stated that people shouldn't be judged by what they did "33 years ago," child sexual abuse is a pretty major thing. By that metric, should Bill Cosby not be judged for rapes he committed 33 years ago? Or maybe the Green River Killer got a bad rap - I mean, who are we to judge what he was doing so long before he was convicted. Or perhaps Dennis Hastert was wrongfully judged for sexually abusing kids in the 1970's? I guess I disagree - there are some things that judgment is appropriate - both for actions initially done, and the response once they are brought into the light.
There is also the assertion by other Council Members that it is reasonable for this to play out, and to be re-litigated well passed the statute set forth for administrative appeals. I must disagree. See, you are not just any person. You are the mayor of a major city. Whether you like it or not, you are also someone who has a now-public founded investigation of child sexual abuse.
Your team's attempts to downplay a CPS finding is troubling. I'm not sure if we've ever talked about it, but my background includes work on cases representing children who had suffered significant abuse. This included the Estate of Tyler DeLeon - a case where a boy died from dehydration after systemic torture by his foster mother, and despite over 20 CPS referrals, referrals that were left "unfounded" because of the de facto standard being higher than preponderance of the evidence. The Carnation case, where, following a "founded" allegation, a girl was left to be tortured for two years with her father and stepmother, thanks to an overburdened system historically underfunded by our legislature (leading to the Bramm settlement, which I am sure you are aware of). Most devastating may have been the Estate of Summer Phelps - a girl who, despite numerous referrals and investigations by CPS, including a last-minute referral shortly before she died, was repeatedly abused and ultimately left to die in bathtub for the sin of peeing her pants. She was four.
CPS is already hesitant enough to intervene, and the statements from your team do nothing but sow additional doubt in a system, and seek to imply that children in the foster system shouldn't have advocates. I'm not sure if you grasp or realize the harm this can do, or if you are blinded by your own self-defense, but it is incredibly unbecoming of someone who also has a history of being a civil rights leader.
So we are left with a mayor with a founded allegation of sexual abuse of a child who asserts that founded allegations should not be believed - despite asserting that they should just a few months ago, when you said there was no founded allegation. Survivors of child sexual abuse now look to the Mayor's office, and see someone who is effectively getting away with it. And what's worse, having more and more powerful people in the political world spring to his defense. This is a heartbreaking moment for me, and so many others, and for what? To somehow work to "preserve" your legacy?
The minute your legacy became more important than the well-being of children in abusive homes, you should have questioned your motives. At least, that's what I believe. Personally, I question myself all the time, and if I'm going in a direction of what's best for me winning out over what's best for the community, I try to roll back a bit and re-center myself. My experience in life - not the best childhood, not the best adolescence - is what shaped my personal desire to do good things - but those must be for the community, and designed to ensure more kids have better lives than I did.
The sadness that I have from your actions, from seeing someone that I looked up to (with some similarities in political paths) is real. But the anger is also real. Your combative approach, and continued damage that your actions are doing to me as a survivor, and to others in our community, is abhorrent. They are disappointing.
I know that you have stated that you will not resign. That you are adamant on finishing your term. So much "I" in your statements. But I'm not sure it's worth it. I'm not convinced that the reminder that men "get away with it," particularly men in power, is worth it. The staff of our city are amazing. We have outstanding department heads. Our city will be fine with someone else at the helm for the remainder of the year. In fact, it may be better - losing the cloud hanging over City Hall.
I don't expect that you will listen - or even read to this point - but I agree with Council Member Lorena Gonzalez. It's time to resign. To leave what dignity with the office is left, and take what legacy you can still claim, without doing further damage to the city, or to your legacy. It is time.
All of my Best,