Upisode 22: Lauded Seattle journalist Erica C Barnett stops by the bookstore for a chat about discourse in late capitalism, oppressive zoning laws, and the significance of and norms around political endorsements by local newspapers. It gets real. She also shares her views on the topic of “experience” in elected office — for better and for worse, and previews some upcoming coverage on How San Francisco is handling homelessness.
About Erica C. Barnett
Erica C. Barnett is a feminist, an urbanist, and an obsessive observer of politics, transportation, and the quotidian inner workings of City Hall; you can find her recent work at The C Is for Crank. She has been a writer and editor at PubliCola, which she co-founded, the Stranger — where she covered City Hall and transportation, wrote a weekly politics column, and served on the paper’s editorial board — as well as Seattle Weekly, Shakesville, the Austin Chronicle, and many more.
Barnett has covered Seattle civics and city government for a decade and a half; this comes across as she shares her views, both through the depth of her knowledge and the obviousness of her expertise. She argues that this last quality — expertise — is especially important in administering the executive branch of the city’s government, and that while a council member may well succeed as a first-time official, the Mayor simply needs to understand both the machinations of city government and how to manage thousands of employees. Beyond expertise lies the realm of subjective personal experience in which all too many Seattlites currently exist, especially in areas of land use, neighborhood planning, and zoning. Barnett has documented this phenomenon — Seattle journalists and residents alike acting out of deeply subjective biases rather than an informed position — in a recent piece about a town-hall-style panel in Ballard and her thoughtful, incisive response to a poorly-framed SW piece about YIMBYs.
Right now, she claims, she is walking around the city.