Meet John Olerud: retired Seattle Mariners player, devout Christian, wealthy Clyde Hill resident, anti-trans ballot initiative funder, and tree-slaying schmuck.
According to Just Want Privacy campaign filings submitted last week, Olerud and his wife each contributed $25,000 to the campaign to remove transgender folks' right to use gender-segregated bathrooms. But that's nothing compared to what they spent on forcing a neighbor to remove two 50-year-old trees in order to improve their view of downtown Seattle from their Clyde Hill property.
Two decades ago, Clyde Hill (a city with an estimated $91,340 per capita income) adopted a rare ordinance that allows the city to condemn trees that some people find "unreasonably obstruct" their views from the "living and entertainment areas" of their homes. In 2012, after the Oleruds built a custom $4 million home uphill from two preexisting, 50-foot-tall trees, the couple decided to use the law to go after their neighbors' rare Chinese pine.
The Board eventually sided with Olerud, but ordered that he pay either $62,694 or $64,440 for the tree removal.
Here's how John Olerud argued his case at the Clyde Hill Board of Adjustment hearing, according to a Seattle Times piece from the time:
You guys saw the trees,” Olerud said at the board hearing. “They’re not attractive trees. I would say they’re the kind of tree that only an arborist would love. …
“I’m just making the point that if you’re willing to cut down your own trees to maintain your view and yet you aren’t willing to offer that to your neighbor, how is that being a good neighbor?
“The Bible says, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.’ That’s Jesus’ commandment.”
Just goes to show: Religion really can justify anything!
In a more recent campaign filing, Just Want Privacy also showed two additional $25,000 donations from high-profile Tacoma lawyer John "Jack" Connelly and his wife, Angela. In 2012, Connelly ran for state senator by financing his campaign with $988,382 of his own savings. Just Want Privacy has until Friday to file the 246,000 signatures they need to put their anti-trans initiative on the November ballot.