Arena rendering. (Oak View Group)

Mayor Ed Murray issued a resignation letter yesterday after a fifth man came forward–this time his cousin–alleging Murray had molested and raped him as a child in the 1970s. Joseph Dyer spoke to The Seattle Times and issued a signed declaration to the lawyer representing Delvonn Hackard, his first man to publicly accuse Murray of sexual abuse this year.

“I am offering this declaration to rebut Murray’s claims that he never molested a child and/or the allegations against him were concocted as some sort of right-wing conspiracy. I do not know any of the other victims mentioned in this statement, and I am not part of any conspiracy. In fact, I am related to Murray. I am Murray’s cousin,” Dyer said.

Mayor Murray had sought to grimly weather the storm with four men accusing him of rape or sexual abuse. Some political allies stuck by Murray even as more men came forward. For example, former US attorney Jenny Durkan stood by Murray as he endorsed her for mayor on June 29. The fifth allegation seems to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Yesterday, Durkan’s campaign scrubbed Murray’s endorsement from her website. Durkan’s opponent, urban planner Cary Moon, first called on Mayor Murray to resign in May. The Urbanist has endorsed Moon.

“Mayor Murray’s response to the many allegations of sexual abuse have been deeply inappropriate and harmful, especially to survivors, LGBTQ people and young people everywhere. Survivors of sexual assault must be believed and treated with respect,” Moon said in a statement. “His efforts, as a public official, to demean and belittle his victims is an abuse of the public trust. By not stepping down, by continuing to support my opponent’s campaign, he is sending the message that the powerful in this city circle the wagon’s around their own.”

Bad Blood

As he resigned, Murray maintained his innocence and boasted of his accomplishments. He managed to avoid any references to whether his cousin and accuser has a criminal history–a courtesy not extended to past victims–perhaps because Dyer doesn’t have one, according to The Seattle Times. Murray’s story this time is bad blood.

“There’s been numerous fights between our two families for many years, and much ugliness,” Murray told The Seattle Times. “I guess they see me down and out, and they want to finish me off.”

Moon bristled at Murray’s salvo.

“Claiming the victims are motivated by politics, homophobia, due to a family feud–or suggesting that children shouldn’t be believed–is manipulative and immoral,” Moon said.


Murray cited his achievements both in Olympia and at City Hall.

I’m proud of all that I have accomplished over my 19 years in the Legislature, where I was able to pass what were at the time the largest transportation packages in state history, a landmark gay civil rights bill and a historic marriage equality bill.

And I am proud of what we have accomplished together at the City during my time as mayor, passing a nation-leading $15 minimum wage, and major progressive housing affordability and police accountability legislation, as well as negotiating an agreement to build a world-class arena that I believe in time will bring the NHL and NBA to Seattle.

Ironically, the first accomplishment Murray listed likely wouldn’t have happened without Councilmember Kshama Sawant–a frequent target of Murray’s criticisms but ardent advocate for a higher minimum wage. Time will tell how many Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda recommendations are passed–and the effectiveness of the patchwork of those that are in producing affordable housing. Meanwhile, the police accountability accountability legislation he referenced wasn’t enough to save Charleena Lyles. In June, Lyles called police fearing an intruder; two responding police officers proceeded to shoot her seven times, killing her and her unborn child.

Admittedly, it’s hard not to view Murray’s urgency in securing a new arena and NHL and NBA franchises as a last ditch effort at legacy building. Murray’s maneuvering aside, it’s worth investigating the details that were revealed yesterday.

What’s in the Arena MOU

Murray and Oak View Group (OVG) had called a press conference to unveil the draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding KeyArena renovation (henceforth called Seattle Center Coliseum). They hastily canceled given the news, but Oak View quietly revealed the MOU online and later took some questions from the Uptown Alliance at a meeting.

Some highlights include:

  • $600 million in private investment expected
  • Double the size of KeyArena
  • Construction in October 2018, re-opening in 2020
  • 39-year lease with two eight-year renewal options
  • $40 million to City mobility plan (as proposed by Uptown Alliance)
  • $20 million for Community Fund–$10 million of which to Youth Care

Chris Daniels reported the updated plan would save a local pottery studio:

OVG will pay to temporarily relocate Pottery Northwest, which has resided in the Bressi Garage for decades. That building was given landmark status by the Seattle Preservation Board. It has been slated for demolition under the OVG plan to allow for a subterranean tunnel to new loading docks. [OVG CEO Tim] Leiweke said the “long term vision will include them, not replace them. We like bricks. We are well aware of the historic nature of the building as well.”

Leiweke claimed OVG may spend close to $100 million on transportation solutions in Uptown and South Lake Union. “In addition to the $40 million transportation fund, Leiweke said $30 million of the arena construction budget is for transportation,” Daniels said. Other transportation improvements could be mandated via the lease or the Environmental Impact Statement process. The MOU doesn’t specifically mention Monorail improvements, such as ORCA card integration and higher capacity, but earlier plans had indicated it. Some flexibility might be beneficial–say if we upgraded 5th Avenue Monorail right-of-way to an elevated Metro line, for example.

The draft MOU will be in the Seattle City Council’s court. The makeup of the council will change slightly in the next few days.

Council President Bruce Harrell will be acting Mayor starting at 5pm when Murray’s resignation goes into effect, although he’ll have five days to decide whether to remain so for the next three months or keep his seat on the council. Harrell could appoint Councilmember Tim Burgess, who’s retiring at the end of year. (The Urbanist has endorsed Teresa Mosqueda to replace Burgess.) Whether it’s Burgess, Harrell, or another councilmember (law dictates only a councilmember can act as interim mayor), the Seattle City Council will need to appoint a replacement councilmember after appointing a mayor.

Sexual abuse victims who’ve been reliving their own traumatic experiences as Murray’s alleged victims have come forward and Seattle’s mayor has used his platform to assail their motives and publicize their criminal records will likely breath a sigh of relief as Murray leaves public office.

The featured image is an arena rendering courtesy of Oak View Group.

City Hall Advances Seattle Center Arena And Lander Overpass Plans

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Doug Trumm is publisher of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington in 2019. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.