Vote Nickels, Conlin, Drago, Licata, Pelz, Yes on Monorail, No on I-900, No on I-901, No on I-912...
The Stranger Election Control Board couldn't convince the candidates to drink with us this time around. After the alcohol binge that ensued during our Primary Endorsement round (which elicited booze-infused quotes like this non sequitur from Seattle City Council candidate Dwight Pelz: "This is grabbing a woman that's four feet away, and this is grabbing a woman that's nine feet away"), the candidates apparently thought better of doing shots with us in the run-up to November 8.
However, that didn't stop us from hitting the bottle. How else were we going to cope with the monorail's bleak chances or summon up the creativity to write about such election-season thrillers as Senate Joint Resolution 8207—which has something to do with the jurisdiction guidelines for the commission on judicial conduct?
Sooooo, the Election Control Board came up with a drinking game to get us (and you) through this year's endorsement guide. Every time we typed the words "Team Nickels," "vote," "monorail," "Republican library hours," "drunk dialing," "calibrated," "sexual harassment charges against the principal," or "ATM porn" we took a shot. And every time you read those words, you should take a shot too. So, gather up your friends, get a fifth of whiskey, and get shit-faced in the name of civic duty.
The Stranger Election Control Board is Erica C. Barnett, Josh Feit, Amy Jenniges, Tim Keck,Eli Sanders, Dan Savage, and Annie Wagner. We do not write up endorsements in uncontested races.
Vote for Greg Nickels
Unlike a lot of folks, we haven't been caught off guard or even bothered by Nickels's thuggish tactics to get stuff done during the last four years. In fact, we've loved it—loved that he's taken the brass knuckles to the skulls of the obstructionist neighborhood groups and sparked density and smart-growth development in Northgate, downtown, and the neighborhood business districts. Yeah, Nickels talked all about the friendly "Seattle Way" in his 2001 campaign, but we knew that Nickels's history of slamming his fist on the table at the Republican-controlled county council would be his real M.O. And that's precisely why we endorsed him four years ago when we wrote, "Nickels's ability to stare down county Republicans in bristly partisan battles has prepared Nickels for the ugly political combat that's on tap at city hall. Nickels will bring the kind of horsepower to city hall that's been missing for years." We enthusiastically endorsed Nickels again in this year's September primary.
When our candidate of choice makes it through the primary, it's rare for the Election Control Board to change our endorsement in the general election. We did it once back in 1999 when, thanks to her sugary habit of telling people exactly what they wanted to hear, city council candidate Heidi Wills lied to us about her position on the impound ordinance.
Once we get behind a candidate, they've got to fuck up pretty badly (like, say, lying to us) to lose our support. Well, Nickels has come mighty close to losing our support lately. Specifically, on September 16, Nickels caved to political pressure and yanked city backing for the monorail. It was a gutless decision—and also a hypocritical one, given Nickels's history of going to the mat for Sound Transit's light rail, a more expensive project. Next, he passed a moronic set of strip-club regulations. Then, Seattle Ethics and Elections dinged Team Nickels for a flagrant violation of city rules—using city resources to send out a campaign flier. Finally, last week, in a laughably sloppy campaign ploy, Team Nickels threatened to make The Stranger's access to Nickels contingent on positive coverage.
However, despite our immediate disappointment in Nickels (and despite the specific missteps we've had to bust him for over the last four years, like his Sonics welfare plan, his cave to Harbor Properties, and his Vulcan giveaway at South Lake Union Park), we still remember the good stuff: his righteous veto of the council's handout to developer Richard Hedreen, his rejection of big-box development on Northwest 85th Street, and his high profile affront to the Bush administration over the Kyoto Protocol. Mostly, though, we want Nickels to make good on the groundwork he's laid down during his first term to transform Seattle into a dense, environmentally smart, urban center.
Al Runte's attempt to appeal to the angry neighbors is riddled with contradictions—he's against Nickels's viaduct plan because he says it's dangerous to build a tunnel on a fault line, but he proposes rebuilding the viaduct (and adding light rail!) on the same spot. And the professor should do some homework: We looked at the neighborhood capital projects portion of Nickels's budget for 2005 and 2006, and the mayor—despite facing a $25 million gap when he wrote the budget—earmarked nearly $143 million in non-levy neighborhood projects (including $250,000 in Runte's own Wedgwood). It's a telling commentary on the state of the "neighborhood" movement when all they can offer up is an ill-informed, disgruntled former assistant professor who likes the sound of his own voice. Vote Nickels.
Vote for Richard Conlin
Single-issue voters, take note: If the monorail's your issue, don't vote for Richard Conlin. Conlin's diehard opposition to the monorail—a position he took up with a vengeance back in 2000, when he co-wrote the legislation that overturned the first monorail initiative—has defined the council incumbent for most of his two terms. The Stranger Election Control Board still believes he was wrong about the monorail, particularly given his double standard: giving the equally out-of-whack light rail project a free pass.
However, on other important issues (like ATM porn in particular), Conlin has been a reasoned, independent voice of dissent on a council that frequently complains about Team Nickels's agenda, but often fails to offer competing ideas. In his two terms on the council, Conlin has a well-earned reputation for advocating on behalf of neighborhood and environmental interests. He crafted a compromise plan for the redevelopment of Northgate Mall, giving oversight authority to neighbors. He worked on behalf of Roosevelt residents who wanted light rail to run through their neighborhood, where it would actually serve them, rather than on its periphery. He pushed to complete the "missing link" of the Burke-Gilman Trail despite histrionic opposition from industrial interests. And he won the steadfast support of the music community by fighting the draconian Teen Dance Ordinance and working to secure funding for the Vera Project.
Conlin's opponent, longtime Port Commissioner Paige Miller, brags that unlike Conlin, she doesn't get bogged down by process. After four shots of whiskey, we'll be brutally honest about Miller's claim: Her tendency to ram through her proposals without building coalitions has frequently left others cleaning up her messes. Miller takes credit for building the third runway at Sea-Tac, when her refusal to work with neighborhood groups is a major reason it took 14 years to push the project through. Miller also claims she "came up with a plan" to save the waterfront trolley, but fails to mention that her plan was dropped because it cost millions more than the collaborative city-county proposal that is moving forward. Two of five Port Commissioners say they knew nothing about Miller's plan, hatched behind closed doors with two other commissioners, until minutes before her press conference. That may be how business gets done at the Port, but city council members should be collaborative, not cliquish.
On other issues, Miller has consistently favored big businesses and developers over ordinary citizens. She opposes Peter Steinbrueck's plan to require developers to provide amenities like parks and community centers in exchange for density; opposed tighter controls on wastewater dumping from cruise ships; and voted to increase the Port's property tax levy by 37 percent to pay for a new cruise-ship terminal.
The council needs strong neighborhood advocates like Conlin to serve as a check on the mayor's developer-friendly impulses. Vote for Conlin.
Vote for Jan Drago
The Stranger Election Control Board used to loathe Jan Drago. During her first two terms she seemed like nothing more than a reliable vote for downtown development interests and for Mark Sidran's unconstitutional crackdown on the poor. But three years ago, Drago traded in her establishment cred and started playing for our team. (She's also the only candidate who did agree to drink with us a second time. Bottoms up, Jan.) In 2002, Drago severed ties to her longtime conservative ally Margaret Pageler and came out swinging against the stupid Teen Dance Ordinance—helping bury the thing once and for all. Also, In 2002, she became the council's loudest monorail supporter (battling the same downtown property owners she once relied on for support) to valiantly make the case that elevated rapid mass transit was more important than Hummers' Rights and Washington Mutual's bottom line. Drago even publicly closed her WaMu account to protest that company's support for a reactionary anti-monorail recall campaign in 2004. And this year, she took on Mayor Nickels's overreaching development agenda by directly challenging and successfully reforming Nickels's top priority to let the University of Washington expand unconditionally.
Far more important: Drago called bullshit on the mayor's ill-conceived budgets. As the council's badass budget chair during Nickels's first two years, Drago rallied the council to restore vital programs that Team Nickels had decimated, including restoring $1.6 million for community medical clinics, $551,000 for homeless shelters, $493,000 for homeless relief agencies, $1.2 million for a fire-engine company in Green Lake, and $1 million for the Seattle Police Department's community service officer programs. Drago also found $500,000 for food banks.
After making it clear that she wasn't going to suck up to Nickels, Drago took over as council president in 2004. In that role she reenergized the council, providing credible leadership in its ongoing battles with the mayor.
Appropriately enough, Drago's opponent is Team Nickels's former communications director, Casey Corr—a guy who told the Election Control Board that Drago's work to restore homeless shelter funding was "no big deal." Not only would it be stupid to send a handpicked Nickels crony to the council (Corr has the financial and organizational backing of Team Nickels), but Corr is a conservative whose stands on the issues reek of opportunism rather than principle. Exhibit A: When the monorail went south last June, Corr—after months of campaigning against Richard Conlin for being a monorail obstructionist—jumped into Drago's race, accusing her of being a monorail advocate. Cheesy.
And to put it bluntly (we're working off about 20 shots here), the Mayor's Boy is a total kiss-ass. It's not only Nickels's ass Corr kisses. (Lovely image.) Corr will shamelessly ingratiate himself to anyone. Rather than telling the Election Control Board why we should support him, Corr, as recently as last week, asked us what he "needed to do" to get our endorsement (unabashed and oblivious sniveling in the wake of our ongoing "Mayor's Boy" stories about his flip-flopping ways). Yucko. Send the mayor's smarmy boy packing—vote for Jan Drago.
City Council Position 6
Vote for Nick Licata
Okay. We swear we're not just
Case in point, Licata recently amended Team Nickels's patronizing and sexist strip-club "four- foot" rule, scaling back Nickels's attempt to force strippers into the court system rather than the more collaborative hearing-examiner process. (And after sneaking in that fix, Licata righteously rounded up three other protest votes and voted against Nickels's nanny-state legislation as a whole. Ha!)
Speaking of challenging Nickels, Licata has often been the lone dissenting vote against the mayor's big plans: No on Nickels's useless vanity fix to Mercer, no on Nickels's UW lease lid lift, no on Nickels's unfunded viaduct tunnel plan (Hey, Greg, maybe we should give you a month to come up with a finance plan!), and—voting with lefty ally Peter Steinbrueck—no on authorizing $3.9 million in city money for Paul Allen's streetcar.
Licata has been a determined critic of developer giveaways, taking up the fight (again with Steinbrueck) to amend Nickels's plans in South Lake Union and downtown. And he's currently pushing for expanded library hours in Nickels's new budget, arguing that keeping the current Republican library hours (never fucking open) in place is a disservice to working-class people.
A longtime monorail advocate who argues that monorail technology is better suited to Seattle than Sound Transit's light rail technology, Licata wants to keep monorail technology alive by getting Sound Transit to adopt the idea. He also says he will not let the monorail's MVET be transferred to anything but mass transit projects.
Our one gripe with Nick is that as a veteran council member, with two terms under his belt, he still struggles to get the votes to bolster his crusades. For example, his amendment to require a citywide transportation-needs study before committing new bus hour money to South Lake Union went nowhere. And his idea for a city levy to fund both cops and social services disappeared.
The powers-that-be still view Licata as a threat. Team Vulcan tried, unsuccessfully, to field a candidate to challenge Licata. They failed because Licata's most remarkable talent (thanks to his straight-shooting manner) is his ability to earn the respect of his adversaries. For example, the cop union endorsed Licata this year even though Licata—who chairs the council's cop committee—is pledging to fight for stricter police-accountability rules like demanding unredacted complaint files.
The SECB has dreams of a Mayor Licata. At the very least, we're hoping for a Council President Licata, who would shake up city hall's second floor and pull the council in a more activist direction. Vote Licata!
Vote for Dwight Pelz
Dwight Pelz, a Democratic partisan brawler on the King County Council, deserves your vote over two-term City Council incumbent Richard McIver.
Pelz, a recent Deaniac who's been active in progressive Seattle politics since the 1970s (when he worked to kill a regressive sales tax on food) has long been liberals' most loudmouthed representative at the county. He spoke up for the county's controversial Critical Areas Ordinance which seeks to curb sprawl by limiting suburban development in rural King County, over the objections of pitchfork-wielding (literally) rural residents; torpedoed Republican efforts to ax the county's domestic-partner benefits; and was a vocal supporter of proposals to elect the city council by district. As head of the county council's transportation committee, he successfully restored Metro bus service after Tim Eyman's license-tab-slashing Initiative 695 led to massive transportation budget cuts; fought to get transit included in a regional transportation funding package; and spearheaded efforts to move Sound Transit's light rail station in the Roosevelt neighborhood from Eighth Avenue, where it would have served mostly suburban park-and-riders, to 12th Avenue, where it will serve neighborhood residents. He also led the council's fight for the controversial East Lake Sammamish Trail, which will extend the Burke-Gilman Trail to Issaquah.
Some have criticized Pelz, who is white, for running against the council's only black incumbent. We think Pelz's record representing South Seattle at the county proves he'll stand up for Seattle's communities of color. (When the state put a sex-offender city in South Seattle, Pelz loudly called it a "racist" decision.) It's condescending and dumb to set aside council seats for members of a particular race. Progressive voters should elect the person who will be the most effective advocate, regardless of his or her skin color.
McIver has done some good work at the council, pushing to focus the city's planning efforts on South Seattle and working to secure fair compensation for businesses displaced by light rail in the Rainier Valley. But the SECB believes the council needs a fighter, not a conciliator, to serve as a counterbalance during four more years of Nickels. Vote Pelz.
So, Tim Eyman wants to spend your tax dollars. Yep. He likes spending money when it's on a government bureaucracy he supports. In this instance, he wants to spend .16 percent of the state sales tax ($17 million to $25 million every two years) to expand the functions and size of the state auditor's office, so the auditor isn't limited to doing financial audits of state agencies, but can also do performance audits (which measure the effectiveness of a given agency). Sounds good. The Stranger Election Control Board is all for audits of government agencies. But a bill passed by the legislature last year already expanded the capabilities of the auditor's office to do performance audits of state agencies under the oversight of an appointed Citizen's Advisory Panel—which (unlike Eyman's version) would prevent the newly empowered auditor from being an unaccountable politicized attack dog. And that brings us to the problem with I-900. Eyman also wants to give the state auditor the authority to eyeball local agencies outside the auspices of the Advisory Panel. As tipsy as we are right now, we almost missed the fine print that reveals Eyman's agenda about local agencies: Eyman's initiative tells the newly empowered auditor to: "aggressively pursue the largest, costliest government entities first..." (i.e., those liberal King County and Seattle agencies). No thanks, Tim. Both King County and the City of Seattle already have tenacious, independent auditors. We don't need to turn a state office into an action wing of the Republican Party's agenda to shrink government. Vote no on I-900.
Government has a responsibility to protect the public from known carcinogens such as secondhand smoke. That's why a number of states, including California and New York, have in recent years moved to ban smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public places. It's a positive trend that improves the health of Americans while also improving the financial bottom lines of the restaurants and bars that are forced to go smoke-free (despite bogus tobacco-industry claims to the contrary).
However, in a state where the initiative process is so accessible to activists, voters have an obligation to scrutinize the measures that make it onto the ballot—assessing them not just in spirit, but in substance. Voters are acting as legislators. Just as we would expect an elected representative to reject flawed legislation because it has the potential to go awry, we are obligated to make sure citizen initiatives, while perhaps well-intentioned, are carefully calibrated and don't include clumsy language that could create new problems. This is the failing of I-901, the proposed statewide smoking ban.
The Stranger Election Control Board is no fan of secondhand smoke, and we would have loved to endorse a statewide smoking ban. Our problem with I-901 is that it doesn't stop at banning smoking inside of bars, restaurants, and other public venues. It also bans smoking outside bars and restaurants, prohibiting citizens from lighting up within 25 feet of any door, window, or vent that leads into a public establishment.
In a dense urban area such as Seattle, this creates a practical problem for certain blocks that are popular precisely because they are filled with doors, windows, and vents into public establishments (where would one smoke on such a block, except in the middle of the street?). But more disturbingly, the law's vague language on its own enforcement creates an irresistible opportunity for selective enforcement, a tactic long used by authorities in Seattle to target "certain" clubs and businesses. If I-901 passes we fear that the 25-foot measuring tapes—and their resulting $100 fines to violators—will appear far more frequently outside "certain" clubs and bars than outside the tony watering holes of the urban elite.
Having already published too many stories on selective enforcement, we can't endorse a law that will lead to more such stories. It's too bad, since backers of I-901 could have avoided the problem by leaving out the 25-foot language. Vote against giving another selective-enforcement tool to the authorities. Vote no on I-901.
Last year, the state legislature passed a smart gas tax that will raise $7.1 billion over three years to pay for essential road improvements all over the state. This makes sense; drivers should help pay for improving the roads they use. Seventeen Republicans joined Democrats last year to push the law through. And smart-growth groups like Futurewise and Transportation Choices Coalition dig this year's gas-tax package—as opposed to 2002's R-51, which both groups successfully opposed because of its emphasis on expanding road capacity. This year's gas tax is about safety and fixes, not expansion. And it is smart about the few added capacity projects it does fund. For example, there's $1 billion for Interstate 405 that's targeted at HOV lanes.
But now a predictable cry has gone up from the large antitax constituency in this state, and it has joined with rural feelings of resentment toward big cities to produce a predictable argument against the gas tax. The backers of I-912, which would repeal the tax immediately, say that too much gas-tax money goes toward two huge projects in Seattle (replacement of the teetering Alaskan Way Viaduct and the rickety SR 520 bridge across Lake Washington), and anyway, our state's taxes are too high already.
Bullshit on both counts. If anything, the taxes on gasoline in this country are too low for a commodity that is causing so much damage (hello, global warming) while requiring huge government investments in infrastructure that supports its consumption (roads, roads, roads). And if the dopes in rural areas really think Seattle's transportation arteries should be allowed to crumble just to soothe their personal feelings of inadequacy, they're even more self-defeating than anyone realized. Seattle is the economic engine that drives the entire state. Grow up, rural voters. And urban voters: You outnumber the rural rubes anyway. Vote your self-interest (the state's best interest). Vote no on I-912.
Emotional reasoning often leads to bad law, and Washington State's stupid initiative process has certainly proven that true. In the last five years, voters have rolled back ergonomics regulations, slashed taxes that fund local programs, and totally overhauled the state's election system. These kinds of complex issues should be given thoughtful consideration by the legislature, not condensed into 30-second TV sound bites that can fool voters and sloshed editorial boards.
Both I-330 and I-336 are wildly complicated initiatives that beggar brief description. I-330 would cap noneconomic damages for botched medical procedures at $350,000 and limit the amount lawyers could earn on malpractice cases. Capping noneconomic damages is unfair to patients because it fails to consider the severity of an injury or the long-term cost to the injured patient. It also discriminates against those with little or no income, like children, the elderly, and stay-at-home moms, whose economic damages from lost income would be nothing. And it fails to take into account the number of times a doctor has screwed up a procedure, allowing bad doctors to injure again and again.
The most unconscionable aspect of I-330, however, is a provision that would let doctors require patients to waive their right to sue before receiving treatment. We're drunk, but we're not stupid. Proponents of I-330 say patients who don't want to sign the waivers can take their business elsewhere. But that's a hollow promise for rural residents and poor people who may have to wait months to be seen by one of the dwindling number of doctors who accept Medicaid payments. Moreover, had backers of I-330 really wanted to address the problem of rising insurance rates, they would have written an initiative aimed at the insurance industry. I-330 is an insurance-industry giveaway that would only protect bad doctors. Vote no.
Initiative 336, sponsored by patients' advocates and trial lawyers, would take away licenses from doctors who lose three or more malpractice cases in 10 years; allow the insurance commissioner to hold hearings on malpractice insurance rate increases before they go into effect; give patients access to medical records about health care providers, including any disciplinary actions that have been taken against them; and prevent doctors from remaining mute on direct questions from patients about their practice history. None of these are perfect solutions, but these changes, particularly the medical records disclosure requirements, will improve patients' rights. Vote yes.
We know. Even around 50 shots can't make county governent exciting. Buses, sewers, land use, prisons. Um... RTIDs? Anyway, King County government does command a $3 billion budget, spending your property taxes on important shit like paying Metro drivers and enforcing land-use code.
The recent change from 13 council members to 9 has made the Democratic majority precarious, particularly with conservative Democrat Julia Patterson catering to her south-county base instead of thinking regionally about the issues. This year's slate of strong Seattle liberal Democrats—fiercely partisan Larry Phillips (Ballard, Queen Anne, Magnolia, West Capitol Hill); steady Larry Gossett (U-District, Central District, Rainier Valley, and East Capitol Hill); and brainy Dow Constantine (West Seattle)—are critical to making sure urban Seattle is well served and (simultaneously) making sure we don't destroy rural King County with sprawl development. The fourth Democrat on the slate, Bob Ferguson (North Seattle), is an iconoclast who recently pushed an ill-conceived veterans levy with Republican colleague David Irons. (Phillips had to step in and fix the package so that the money served a broader range of social services.) But Ferguson's smarts and independence help keep the Democrats honest. It's a talented group of Dems and all of them deserve another term. (Independent Ed Pottharst, who's challenging Phillips, is an earnest political newcomer who works as a neighborhood coordinator for the city of Seattle. He's done his homework and is particularly thoughtful about the viaduct, but the council cannot afford to lose a strong liberal leader like Phillips.)
County Executive Ron Sims is at the top of the Democratic ticket and despite the bad press he's been getting lately (Southwest Airlines, elections, the Critical Areas Ordinance) Sims remains the most ambitious advocate for Democratic values in the state, particularly on gay rights and marriage.
Sims and his Republican opponent, David Irons, seemed like they were doing some shots themselves during our raucous endorsement interview—bickering endlessly over bureaucratic nonsense like who was responsible for the botched RFQ (???). (We'll post the transcript of this now infamous interview where Sims got so frustrated with Irons he cussed and played the race card.) But Irons's belligerence was more show than substance. And not even his parents support him. There's a Green in the race too, Gentry Lange. Given the tight race, liberals would be foolish to waste their votes on him and his trite anti-corporate rap. Vote Sims.
King County elects its sheriff? Yes. It's a lady? Yes. Is she a gay? No. She's married with two kids, but she's willing to buck the rank and file in the name of accountability. She took heat for punishing two officers accused of assaulting an informant, and she's reopened the investigation into discredited detective Dan Ring. And unlike her opponent, SPD commander Greg Schmidt, she has the administrative experience to run the $114 million department. Even though she's not a dyke, vote Rahr.
A fifth vote?
That's right: We're voting on the monorail again. And once again, the Stranger Election Control Board is urging you to support elevated mass transit in Seattle. This proposal was put on the ballot by the Seattle Monorail Project after Mayor Greg Nickels and the city council yanked their support for the monorail. A "yes" vote on the SMP measure would green-light a 10.6-mile monorail line, shortened from 14 miles, from West Seattle through downtown to Interbay.
If this proposition fails, the monorail agency will shut down forever, ending nearly a decade of grassroots effort to build speedy inner-city mass public transit. We believe that, given time, the monorail will turn around its grim financial situation, replace the awful $11 billion finance package with a reasonable proposal, and come up with a plan to build the entire Green Line, starting with this initial segment.
The Seattle Monorail Project does not have a monopoly on mismanagement and financial fuckups: Sound Transit, another agency that's building a 14-mile north-south rail corridor through Seattle, had to shorten its initial line by a third when cost estimates spun out of control. But Sound Transit got a year and a half to fix its financial problems and clean house. The mayor, reflecting a tiresome double standard, gave the monorail just one month.
And Sound Transit didn't have to put its shorter line back on the ballot, where it would have gone down to almost certain defeat. We're glad Sound Transit got a fair chance; light rail is now being built. If citizens were allowed to second-guess every stage of every transit project, no mass transit would ever get built in this region, period. Give the monorail a chance to turn itself around.
To that end, we also urge you to vote for Proposition 2, which would turn the SMP's governing board, which is currently mostly appointed, into a more accountable, majority-elected body. Also to that end, we urge you to reelect the board's only two elected members, Cindi Laws and Cleve Stockmeyer. Both Laws and Stockmeyer have been tireless advocates for more transparency at an agency often known for keeping secrets; both deserve your support.
The port can be dullsville, but it's actually a hugely powerful local institution. After as many shots as we've done, we're feeling downright giddy about hugely powerful local institutions.
Three seats are up for grabs on the five-member commission, which, to take one example of its influence, has its hands in annual proceeds from the $60 million property tax the port levies on King County residents. You want smart people with a sensible vision to have their hands on that money, right? In Position 1, vote for Lawrence Molloy, a foe of the status quo and friend of enviros and laborers. In Position 3, vote for Lloyd Hara, an independent-minded former King County Auditor. And in Position 4, vote for Jack Jolley, a tough former Microsoft exec who is gunning to take down the establishment-bankrolled incumbent, Patricia Davis.
No matter how drunk you are right now, you can tell the district needs reform. The board passed a 2002–2003 budget that was $12 million out of whack. More recently, the district was embarrassed by an ill-conceived school closure plan (which was ultimately scuttled). And Seattle schools still face a $20 million budget crisis in 2006. Are these people drunk? Like we said in our primary endorsements: The school board should be appointed. But for now we'll just recommend the best of the current crop: Vote for one-woman budget watchdog, dissenter Mary Bass in District 5; vote for longtime education advocate Cheryl Chow in District 7; and in District 4, vote for Michael DeBell—the former president of the Ballard High School PTA. Newcomer DeBell has the passion of a parent and the experience of a PTA leader who had to deal with tough personnel issues like sexual harassment charges against the principal.
There are three other items on this year's ballot: City Advisory Measure No. 1 is a message from Seattle to the U.S. Congress saying it would be nice if everyone had equal access to health care. (Hey, why not throw in some ATM-porn for that matter.) We'll drink to that, but we're not going to waste our time voting for it because the city council shouldn't be wasting its time passing this kind of junk. Vote no.
Senate Joint Resolution 8207 gives municipal court judges representation on the state's Commission on Judicial Conduct. Vote yes.
King County Proposition No. 1 will raise $13.3 million per year from a property tax. The fund will be split 50-50—half going to veterans' services and the other half going to generalized human services. We're drunk. Sure. And—if you've had all 80 shots—you should be drunk off your ass too. Now, where's that ballot.