Sunday, October 23, 2005 at 3:41 pm by Darryl
It has been amusing to watch the threads at HorsesAss.org the last couple of days, since David â€œGoldyâ€ Goldstein posted a piece about David Irons, Jr. This is the piece that, based largely on interviews of David Irons, Jr.’s family, covered Irons hitting his mother, lying on his resume, falsifying a police report, and other not-good things.
One tactic used by the right wing posters in the comment threads has been to accuse Goldy of making the story up. Another tactic is to accuse David, Jr.’s parents and sister Di of making things up. (And then there are the posters who threaten Goldy….)
Gee … Do you think Goldy has hit a nerve? (Answer: “yes…a pinpoint hit with a Taser.”)
The threads included a couple of comments that these charges have been documented by the MSM during previous campaigns. One interesting comment came from Janet A. Irons, Davidâ€™s older sister who is a staunch supporter and is also estranged from their parents. Janet mentioned that the charges that David Jr. hit his mother surfaced about 5 years after the incident. That suggests that the first media reports arose during the 1999 campaign season.
I decided to examine just how much of this story has been covered in the MSM, when, and if covered, how Goldyâ€™s reporting stacks up against the earlier articles. To do this I searched a database that includes all Seattle Times articles for the last decade.
I should mention that I asked Goldy if he had used media reports as a source of the incidences when he wrote his own article. In fact, he was unaware that the â€œfamily matterâ€ and other incidences he reported on had been in the media. Goldy got his facts from his own queries and interviews, not these media reports. (Goldy documents the development of this story here. )
The Family Matter
I found this account of â€œthe family matterâ€ in the Seattle Times (Oct 30, 2003 â€Anonymous mailing accuses councilman of assaulting parentsâ€, by Keith Ervin, pg. B1).
BOTH CANDIDATES deny sending the letter, but David Irons Jr.’s relatives say part of it is true.
Responding to questions about an anonymous mailing to voters, the mother and one sister of Metropolitan King County Councilman David Irons Jr. yesterday accused him of knocking his mother down during an argument in the mid-1990s.
His mother, Janet Irons, who supports his electoral opponent, former Councilman Brian Derdowski, said her son yanked a telephone from the wall after she grew scared and tried to call 911.
David Irons denied the allegations, saying his mother’s memory was clouded by a diabetic attack and his sister was making “an absolute, total fabrication with zero factual basis.”
His mother and sister Di Irons were asked about his past behavior after an anonymous mailing to elderly voters accused him of threatening and hitting his parents.
Di Irons yesterday said she didn’t know who mailed the fliers about her brother and called it “terribly inappropriate.” But she said some of the flier’s charges were true.
David Irons Jr.’s older sister, also named Janet Irons, questioned the accusations and said she had never seen him act violently.
“Do I think they always got along? No. We’ve always had a fairly loud family, so I’m sure there may have been a raised voice on occasion.”
The family has been divided since David Irons Jr. challenged Derdowski, a family friend and Di Irons’ employer at the time, for his council seat in 1999.
Di Irons said that when she and her brother worked in the family’s cable-TV business, she saw an angry David Irons Jr. throw objects such as wrenches and hand-held radios at their father.
She said she never saw him hit their father but said “I’ve seen him back my dad into a corner, yelling and pointing a finger into his chest.”
His mother said last night her son struck her in the office of the family’s cable-TV business in Fall City after she asked him to leave during an argument. “He brought his left arm back and just knocked me flat backwards an easy pow! … He sent me rolling.”
Di Irons said she entered the office after the incident and found her mother on the floor, unable to get up on her own. No one in the family called the police.
David Irons Jr. said his mother’s memory of the incident was wrong because of her diabetes, which left her “chemically unbalanced.”
“How do you disprove something that’s not accurate? How do you disprove something that’s a fabrication?” he asked.
Irons said he holds a black belt in judo but has never hit his parents or anyone else. “In my seven years in martial arts, one thing I’ve learned is I don’t lay a hand on another human being,” he said.
Most of that story is remarkably consistent with Goldyâ€™s version of the story. Additionally, there are a few new details about David Jr.’s temper tantrums.
Here is another brief account (Seattle Times, Nov. 5, 2003, Pg. A14, â€œIrons fends off Derdowski in 12th; Bitter words marked last days of ‘ugly’ race; close contest in 9th District too close to call,” by Keith Ervin):
The final weeks of the bitter campaign were marred by a flier circulated by a fictitious group claiming that Irons had physically abused his mother and father. His mother, Janet Irons, and sister, Di Irons, said that the charges were true and that Irons had once knocked his mother to the floor. David Irons Jr. called the charges “an absolute, total fabrication.”
The earliest media mention of this incident that I found was in 2003. I have heard that a small eastside paper carried the story in 1999, but I have not been able to track that down.
I heard that Janet C. Irons (Dave Jr.â€™s mother) had been on the John Carlson show in 1999. But, Mr. Carlson said on the air last week that the interview was in 2003, not 1999.
So far, the only documentation I have seen indicating that the story broke in 1999 comes from Janet A. Irons, Dave Jr.â€™s supportive sister, and that was a comment on HorsesAss.org.
Children cannot visit Grandparents
The following Seattle Times article (Sept. 3, 2003, 4th Ed. Pg. B3 â€œCouncil candidates, family rift unchanged Parents, sister of Irons still back Derdowski,â€ by Ashley Bach) backs up Janet C. Ironsâ€™ claims that David, Jr. will not let his children visit their grandparents.
Irons’ parents say the feud started [in 1999] when their son decided to run against Derdowski, an Irons family friend who shared their views on slow growth. Di Irons also worked as an aide to Derdowski and supported her boss’s bid for re-election.
Since then, Irons’ parents say, they’ve had only sporadic contact with their son. They haven’t seen their three granddaughters since the rift started.
The FBI Incident
Here is the Seattle Times (Aug. 24, 1999, Pg. B1, â€œDerdowski Put on the Defensive — Rumored FBI Issue’ Arises as Incumbent Councilman and Rival Irons Go After One Another in Debateâ€ By Mike Lindblom) account of the FBI incident.
Metropolitan King County Councilman Brian Derdowski ventured yesterday into a hostile environment: a rare campaign debate in traffic-clogged Issaquah, a room where many people wore stickers supporting challenger David Irons Jr. Then came the question from the audience, read from a note card: Is there any truth to rumors that Derdowski is, or was, under FBI investigation?
Derdowski answered, “That’s totally untrue. I am not under investigation by the FBI.”
Irons replied that not only was there an inquiry, but that he himself was questioned by an agent.
“It was the FBI, and it was my opponent they interviewed me for,” Irons told the group.
Rumors about an FBI inquiry have circulated for months and were common knowledge among insiders of the Issaquah School District, of which Irons is a board member.
The FBI’s inquiry included questions about whether Derdowski threatened to oppose a school-construction bond election unless the school district hired his wife, Gwen.
Enmity persists between Derdowski and some school backers, who accuse him of providing a report that helped anti-growth activists derail the bond election in February 1998. The report said the school district was failing to collect its share of impact fees from developers to pay for part of school construction.
Derdowski’s attorney, John Wolfe, said the FBI had made a “preliminary inquiry” and closed the file early this year.
“Whatever issue surfaced has been laid to rest,” he said. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle confirmed that there is no active investigation.
If nothing else, its emergence in a forum underscores the climate of political hostility in what is the only primary race for the County Council this year. Derdowski’s opponents blame him for the lack of roads to handle rampant growth, while his supporters see him as one of the few forces preventing even more sprawl.
Even Irons said later that the FBI issue is a distraction that belongs on the “cartoon pages.” Irons’ FBI conversation happened outside an Issaquah School Board retreat in August 1998, Irons said after the forum. He said he talked with the FBI agent on his cellular phone for 35 or 40 minutes.
Issaquah school Superintendent Janet Barry confirmed she spoke with an FBI agent about Derdowski Oct. 15 in her school-district office.
“I knew absolutely nothing that substantiates any suspicion of wrongdoing,” Barry said yesterday.
A Seattle FBI spokeswoman, Roberta Burroughs, said the agency couldn’t confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
Derdowski characterized the FBI question as a last-minute hit by Irons’ supporters, timed just before absentee ballots go out this weekend. The debate’s moderator, developer Judd Kirk, said he was willing to read the question because “If it’s not true, there would be an easy time putting it to bed.”
This account is perfectly consistent with Goldyâ€™s account and fills in some additional details.
Here is the Seattle Times report (Oct. 4, 2000, Pg. B1, â€œTire slashing adds new twist to saga of David and Di Irons,â€ Ian Ith) about the tire slashing incident.
Standing in his driveway at 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Metropolitan King County Councilman David Irons Jr. was surprised and puzzled that a young vandal would slash the tires on his family vehicles and speed away into the night.
But Irons was twice as stunned, he said, when he learned the getaway vehicle was registered to his sister – Di Irons, his political and personal rival and a Democratic candidate for the Legislature.
“I was just flabbergasted,” the county councilman, a Republican, said yesterday. “You could have knocked me over with a feather.”
An eyewitness to the incident, a man visiting his parents across the street who said he didn’t know the Irons family before last weekend, saw the incident and jotted the license number down. Police sources and licensing checks confirm that the number is registered to an SUV owned by Di Irons.
John Urquhart, King County Sheriff’s Office spokesman, said police have identified a suspect but don’t have enough firm evidence to tie him to the slashing. And David Irons says he doesn’t want to press charges.
The Saturday-morning episode began with a routine report of petty crime.
Across the street from David Irons Jr.’s home in the 27000 block of Southeast 27th Street in Sammamish, the man visiting his parents for the weekend stayed awake watching the street because of a recent rash of vandalism in the neighborhood, he said.
“I didn’t even know who David Irons was,” said the man, who lives out of state and asked not to be identified. “And all I know of Di Irons is that I see her signs everywhere when I’m driving down the road.”
At 3:30 a.m., a Toyota 4-runner rolled up to David Irons’ home. A man in his early 20s hopped out and ran toward the driveway. The witness said he slipped outside and scribbled down the license number before the young man dashed back to the SUV and raced off.
The witness said he then heard the telltale hissing from an SUV and a minivan in Irons’ driveway. One tire on each vehicle had been punctured, so he rang David Irons’ doorbell and woke him up, the witness said.
Irons called 911. He gave the dispatcher the license number of the SUV. Then the dispatcher called back in confusion, the councilman said. It appeared the truck was registered to a “D. Irons.”
The councilman said he put the pieces together and pointed police toward the correct “D. Irons.” Police also talked with the witness.
Deputies later talked with a young man they think may have been involved. He denied being at the councilman’s home or slashing his tires, but otherwise refused to talk, according to a police report.
The witness said he doubts he could identify the man because he didn’t see him that well.
This is a bizarre twist on the Irons family saga. I mean, there is a bad guy here. It could be Di Irons (or her son acting independently). Alternatively, David Irons set up his sister with an anonymous-out-of-state-guy-visiting-mom-watching-for-vandals-at-3-a.m.-recording-Diâ€™s-license-plate story. I don’t know. In either case, the story Goldy got from Janet C. or Di Irons seems to differ from what the Seattle Times reported at the time. Perhaps this will be clarified through new documentation over the next week or so.
Those are the most relevant newspaper articles I found. For the most part, Goldy’s story is corroborated. In fact, I am surprised at the consistency, given the way time tends to warp memories.
My point here is not to criticize Goldy for not knowing about these articles. In fact, I find it reassuring that Goldy rediscovered this story and documented it without use of previous media accounts. At the same time, Goldy’s account includes some new angles, eyewitnesses, and relevant new details.
Finally, Goldy did what the MSM did not do in 2003. He brought together many eyewitness stories to document larger patterns of dishonesty and violence.
Clearly, whether the story has been covered before or not, the media has dropped the ball right now, in 2005, when the events have great relevance again. David Irons, Jr. is asking to be elected as the County Executive for our county—a county with a huge budget and a complex management structure. This position demands much more scruteny than the one Irons ran for in 1999 and 2003.
If David Irons, Jr. does have a veracity problem or an anger management problem, we really need to know now! We cannot wait for after the election to learn about any “weaknesses” that David Irons might possess.