Buried slightly below the surface of an investigation into what appears to have been a murder-suicide involving one of Seattle’s most well-known repeat offenders is quite possibly the key to the city’s worsening reputation as place you wouldn’t want to live, much less visit.
It took the death of self-confessed meth addict Travis Berge—a man whose criminal record included 47 arrests and more than 35 convictions, according to KOMO News—and his “unofficial wife,” Lisa, at the city’s Cal Anderson Park. Berge’s behavior, captured partly in last year’s grim documentary “Seattle is Dying,” and his criminal history should have raised red flags all over the landscape that his story would end badly.
But this is Seattle, the city that was supposed to have experienced a “summer of love,” according to far-left Mayor Jenny Durkan, whom critics say is drastically in-over-her-head.
Seattle has grown to become Washington’s largest city and the hub of far left politics, including extremist gun control. It is home to the billionaire-backed Alliance for Gun Responsibility, and less-successful Washington CeaseFire. It adopted a gun violence tax on firearms and ammunition that has never produced anywhere near the original projected revenue, nor has it reduced violent crime. Indeed, homicide numbers in the city have crept upward since the tax was imposed in 2015.
City officials and their anti-gun cheerleaders want to eliminate the state’s 35-year-old preemption statute. Far left liberals, including one socialist, run the city council and some businesses have already left while others may follow. Yet, nobody at city hall seems able to figure out why their city is so despised elsewhere around the Evergreen State, and beyond its borders.
But one individual who may have the city’s woes pegged is retired Seattle Municipal Court Judge Ed McKenna, quoted by KOMO and interviewed by KIRO-FM radio’s mid-day talk host Dori Monson. His analysis of why the city became Berge’s last stop is brutally basic, and explains how the once-great Jet City has become a pariah of the conservative right.
According to Monson’s report at MyNorthwest.com, “McKenna said this region can be a ‘magnet’ for people to come from out-of-state as it is a largely drug-tolerant society and there’s readily available social services.”
Berge came to Seattle from Reno, Nev., where his mother still resides.
“I think there’s a lot of people that share your views of being disgusted by what’s happening. And, in reality, we have elected public servants who are wagering public safety on the highly unlikely chance that a person is going to be rehabilitated,” McKenna said. “And I really don’t think that anybody in their right mind would think that Travis Berge would voluntarily, or even involuntarily, engage in treatment to change his behavior. Clearly, he had a significant problem with methamphetamines, and that changes your brain structure.”
Releasing him and expecting him to change on his own is “unrealistic,” McKenna told Monson.
According to KOMO, ex-Judge McKenna said “the double tragedy of the death of Berge and his companion represents a symbol of a broken criminal justice system and reinforces the need for involuntary treatment for offenders who pose a risk to public safety.”
Monson’s report also covered McKenna’s advocacy for an “in-custody inpatient treatment facility where judges can order people to long-term treatment, where they can get the services that they need, and then only when they’re stable, should they be released.”
“And Mr. Berge might be alive today had we actually had something like that,” McKenna told Monson.
The former judge also observed that “politicians, county executives, and some judges in Seattle” contribute to the problem with “some pretty extreme social ideas that, you know, you can engage in harm reduction.”
“In other words,” McKenna detailed to Monson, “assist an individual while recognizing they’re still going to engage in drugs or alcohol, and continue to commit crimes. And so long as they can reduce and lower that, that’s a success.”
“In my opinion, however,” he stated, “that’s continued victimization. Somebody is going to continue to be victimized by engaging in that kind of thought process, and of course, we saw that today.”
Seattle wanted to establish a “safe injection site” for drug addicts. The city attracts homeless people with various problems such as addiction or mental health issues.
But the icing on this stale cake, according to various observers, is the city’s denial anything is substantially wrong. When KOMO’s “Seattle is Dying” documentary, reported by veteran reporter Eric Johnson, aired in early 2019, critics panned it as biased journalism produced by a station belonging to Sinclair Broadcasting, considered a conservative media supporter of President Donald Trump.
Writing at the McMinnville News Register in Oregon’s Yamhill County in May 2019, staff writer Tom Henderson asserted the documentary was “propaganda stuffed with overblown and florid rhetoric designed to propose simple answers to complex problems while simultaneously generating fear and pointing fingers.”
If the program had been simple propaganda, the city wouldn’t be defined as “20 minutes away from the United States in any direction.” It wouldn’t be mentioned frequently by Fox News commentators for its far left politics, the CHOP zone occupation and continued disruptive protests. And perhaps Travis Berge and his girlfriend wouldn’t be dead.