BLOG: Mayor Mike McGinn could use some sound advice

By Assunta Ng

Mayor McGinn (left) shakes hands with Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan

Recently, I was dining with a group of friends, and the mayor’s name came up. Some of them went with Mayor Mike McGinn to Seattle’s sister city, Chongqing, in March. 

The report card for the mayor’s leadership was not satisfactory.

They shared one scenario where a high-level Chinese official hosted a lunch for more than 50 members of the Seattle delegation. The Chinese official toasted our delegation, and the mayor didn’t know how to respond.

Mayor McGinn (center) at the Seattle Garden ribbon cutting ceremony in Chongqing, China with Chongqing officials (two right), Marco Lowe (left from middle), director of the Seattle Office of Intergovernmental Relations, and Joe Borich (far left), president of the Washington State China Relations Council

The mayor sat there and did nothing, while the other members of the delegation felt awkward, looking at each other with disbelief. No one had the guts to get up and tell the mayor to reciprocate the hospitality of the Chinese official.

Would the mayor take it personally if they told him what to do?

Finally, they decided that Joseph Borich, executive director of the Washington State China Relations Council, would be the appropriate person to intercept.

After 20 minutes, McGinn got the message from Joe, and toasted and thanked his host. Seattle delegates said he did fine. I was amazed when I heard the story. Hadn’t anyone thought to brief him on the proper customs before he left for China?

Even at Cinco de Mayo …

Another similarly awkward situation with the mayor was during a Cinco de Mayo celebration held at the Columbia Tower Club. Several elected officials, including Mayor McGinn, was invited to speak. At festive occasions, elected officials usually make some short remarks about the Hispanic community and offer congratulatory statements.

However, McGinn spoke about the Seattle Police Department and talked for seven minutes. The emcee had to step in. He refused to let go of the mic and said, “This is important.”

Here was an instance where McGinn wanted to stay on his soapbox, but did the audience  listen?

No. The audience was annoyed, and started talking amongst themselves. It seems that he lost some respect from the community that day.

Here we go again, McGinn acts out of line

I also read in a June 12 article in the Seattle Times that McGinn paid a visit to NBA Commissioner David Stern in New York City. Chris Hansen, the hedge-fund manager proposing to spend millions to partially finance a new arena and buy an NBA team, had no idea about this meeting.(end)

3 Responses to “BLOG: Mayor Mike McGinn could use some sound advice”

  1. Aaron Pickus says:

    I am re-posting the following note from Chris Hansen on SonicsArena.Com. This was originally published on Tuesday, the morning after Mayor McGinn’s meeting with NBA Commissioner David Stern:

    Regarding Mayor McGinn’s Meeting with the NBA
    Jun 12

    I just wanted to personally thank Mayor McGinn for taking the time to meet with Commissioner Stern yesterday and discuss the details of our plan and the merits of our fine city. Bringing the NBA back to Seattle is a community effort, and having our local officials and business leaders come forward like they have is critical to our success.

    I also just wanted to share that both the Mayor and Commissioner Stern had appraised me of the meeting weeks in advance, and that this was not the surprise that some have tried to portray. As I am sure all of you can appreciate, it’s not my responsibility to share all of the intimate details of this process with the press, or even my own PR firm (which was the case here). I’m not sure why people try to create drama where it doesn’t exist, but I’m just here to let you all know McGinn and I are 100% on the same page on this.

    — Chris Hansen

  2. Joe Borich says:

    I agree with Job Geiger. Mayor McGinn showed great understanding and cultural affinity toward China and the people with whom he interacted throughout his stay there. In my judgment his behavior was entirely appropriate at all times. I frankly do not recall the incident described in Ms. Ng’s post, or anything remotely like it. Mayor McGinn’s visit to our Chinese sister city Chongqing in March – the first by a Seattle mayor in nearly 30 years – was an unblemished advancement for our region’s commercial, academic and cultural interests in China.

    Joe Borich, President
    Washington State China Relations Council

  3. Jon Geiger says:

    Seems that people are missing the big picture here. Mayor McGinn is the first Seattle Mayor in 30 years to visit Chongqing. Mayor McGinn did an outstanding job representing our City and region, and he and Darell Smith showed great leadership in taking the time to build stronger cultural and economic ties between our countries and cities. At a time when we really needed it, our City Leaders stepped up.
    More practice and more bai jiu will take care of toasting details!
    for more on the Mayors trip – visit The Seattle Chinese Garden blog.

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