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Tim Burgess, Mayor's office join growing chorus of criticism of inaccurate reporting by Seattle Times' Geoff Baker

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The City Council and Mayor's office reject the inaccurate reporting by Geoff Baker and claims by the Seattle Times Editorial Board that the city is hiding information regarding KeyArena.

Seattle Councilmember Tim Burgess introduces a memo condemning the inaccuracies reported by Geoff Baker
Seattle Councilmember Tim Burgess introduces a memo condemning the inaccuracies reported by Geoff Baker
Seattle Channel

Yesterday, Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess issued a memo rejecting assertions made by Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker on February 13, and by the Seattle Times Editorial Board on February 21, that the council was acting in secret to conceal a report favoring a remodel of Key Arena.

As if the memo, a five-page rebuke, was not clear enough, Burgess publicly introduced it at the end of yesterday's Full Council meeting to drive home the displeasure by some on the council with Baker and the paper of record.

Tim Burgess:  The Article on February 13 and yesterday's editorial (February 21) contain factual errors that result in misleading and inaccurate conclusions.  As the memo clearly establishes, and as the Seattle Times was told before their first story was published, umm, they have a premise about secrecy and some conspiracy to hide documents that is just not supported by the facts.  And this memo lays out the facts including a timeline that is attached to appendix A.  I would encourage you to read the memo and if you have any questions please direct those to myself or central staff.

This is an attempt by the council to clear the record and make it abundantly clear that there was no effort to hide any reports.  All of the information that is contained in the EIS and the AECOM report are available to the public.  Umm, and the facts speak for themselves basically.  Thank you.

The preceding text is from the video posted below. Here you can watch Council President Bruce Harrell introduce Burgess, followed by Burgess' remarks, starting at 38 minute, 50 seconds, of the video.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was also a target in the following passages of the Times editorial.

The latest revelations are that Seattle Mayor Ed Murray's office and City Council members delayed the release of a damning report, showing that it was feasible and cheaper to remodel the city's KeyArena.

The result is the mayor and council keep pushing forward on a $490 million, publicly funded sports palace with no team lined up, even though there's a cheaper and less disruptive alternative on the table.

In comments to Sonics Rising on Monday, Murray spokesman Viet Shelton firmly rejected this notion.

"I can't say strongly enough that the Mayor's office in no way, shape, or form influenced the AECOM study," Shelton said. "We appreciated Councilman Burgess working to clarify a couple of issues that they [The Seattle Times] had. The study was commissioned by the council. The facts and timing of it were all by the council."

In November of last year, when the Times was pushing the now-discredited M.T. Phoenix Investments as a group wanting to take action on the AECOM report, Mayor Murray told KING5 reporter Chris Daniels that he was fully committed to "honoring the agreement" with Chris Hansen.

Shelton reaffirmed that goal in this latest go around with Seattle's sole remaining large circulation newspaper.

"The mayor has been very clear," Shelton said. "He agreed when he came into office that he would honor the terms of the MOU. And he has done that for the entire two years he's been in office. He will continue to honor the MOU moving forward to ensure that the City will uphold its obligation."