Seattle councilwomen's vote against NBA plan inspires sexist rage

When the Seattle City Council this week blocked a developer's effort to build a new sports arena and bring professional basketball back to the city, the disappointment among the city's basketball fans was no surprise.

Many were still pining over the loss of the SuperSonics franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008.

But nobody seemed prepared for the vitriol unleased against the female gender.

The plan was shot down in a 5-4 vote — or more specifically, five women to four men.

"You have made this world a worse place by whoring yourselves out to the highest bidder," one person wrote in an email to each of the female council members. "Each of you should rot in hell for what you took from me yesterday."

The sender, a Lynwood, Wash., attorney named Jason M. Feldman, went on: "I TRULY pray for nothing but horrible things for each of you moving forward."

Feldman couldn't be reached for comment Thursday.

The Seattle Times reported that he is currently appealing a 2-½ year suspension by the state bar association for having sexual relations with a client.

A Seattle activist, Ben Livingston, said he has filed a new bar complaint against Feldman for sending the "abusive" email to the council members.

The email was an extreme example in a barrage of sexist insults and threats of bodily harm that the female council members received in the wake of the vote.

The proposal for a $550-million arena — with $200 million coming from taxpayers — was San Francisco developer Chris Hansen's attempt to bring a National Basketball Assn. franchise back to Seattle and attract a National Hockey League team.

Disappointed fans couldn't fathom the council's refusal to accept a $20-million offer from Hansen to vacate part of a street needed for his arena site near the Seahawks' and Mariners' stadiums downtown.

"I think someone should smash Kshama Sawant's head into a brick wall," one Twitter user wrote, referring to one of the women who voted no.

"So this is why Ann Coulter has said that women shouldn't be allowed to vote," said another online commentor.

The five female council members have not commented on the gender insults.

But their four male counterparts, along with Mayor Ed Murray, have supported them. The mayor called the hate talk "misogynistic sexist vitriol."

The developer released a statement saying: "While we may not agree with the council's vote, misogynistic insults, vile comments and threats are unacceptable and need to stop."

The female majority — the first in Seattle since 1994 when the council included seven women — said prior to Monday's vote that they were concerned about the impact the street closure would have on the Port of Seattle and established industries.

They questioned whether an arena and NBA franchise would bring all the benefits that proponents were touting.

"Perhaps I risked the promise of new, future jobs," Councilwoman Lisa Herbold said Thursday, "but my vote was decided in favor of protecting industrial and maritime jobs that we have now so that we can maintain the diversified economy that has kept our region strong in good economic times as well as the downturns."

She and other council members hope to bring the NBA back to Seattle, she said. But polls have shown that up to 77% of registered voters sided with the council's decision for now.

Herbold pointed out that Hansen's memorandum of understanding with the city is good through 2017. If, by then, "an NBA team is secured, a new street vacation application could be made for the current location," she said.

In other words, as Sonics fans often used to say, maybe next year.

Anderson is a special correspondent.

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A version of this article appeared in print on May 06, 2016, in the News section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "NBA plan vote stirs sexist rage - Opposition by Seattle councilwomen draws insults and other abusive messages." — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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