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March 25, 2004
In a development that puts the survival of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in question, a state appeals court reversed a lower-court ruling involving the city's two daily papers. The Seattle Times may now include financial losses from 2000 to trigger the dissolution of the papers' joint-operating agreement, the court ruled this week. ERICA C. BARNETT
Yakima or Bust
A proposal to send misdemeanor defendants to Yakima before trial, instead of holding them in King County, would save Seattle $730,000. So what's not to like? Plenty. Many of the inmates, who are not convicted of any crime, are held simply because they can't afford to post bail. Under the proposal, they would be driven three hours to Yakima in shackles, and, the Defender Association says, would rarely be given access to a telephone, making it difficult for them to contact lawyers and family members.
City Attorney Tom Carr says the Yakima plan "is not a panacea. It's not even a good solution." But because the city is already spending $25 a day, according to Carr, for each of about 60 beds in Yakima to sit empty--and the city has to be out of the King County jail by 2007--it's necessary. ERICA C. BARNETT
Grumbling in Greenwood
The Greenwood Community Council found itself neck-deep in election mud last week, as neighborhood activist and self-appointed watchdog Kate Martin challenged Mike McGinn, the council's president, for his seat. In an e-mail sent shortly before the March 16 election, Martin lambasted McGinn for trying to serve as an intermediary between residents and the developers of the "Town Center" project, where an expanded Fred Meyer threatens to displace a handful of neighborhood businesses, including the Greenwood Market.
"That is just inflammatory," McGinn fired back. Sure, he'd been talking with the developers, but with Greenwood's best interests in mind. Talking to the developers gives neighbors a chance to "actually influence new development, rather than just react," McGinn wrote.
Apparently, neighbors liked McGinn's response. He won the election, 29 to 4. AMY JENNIGES
For years, friend-of-the-people Nick Licata has been pushing to dump the most egregious provision of the city's car-impound ordinance, which allows cops to impound vehicles whose owners have had their licenses suspended for minor infractions like unpaid tickets. Next week, the city council may grant Licata his wish. Licata's proposal--which would ditch impound for those offenses, known as DWLS-3--is cosponsored by the three council freshmen and has support from council member Peter Steinbrueck. That's five votes, a majority.
Licata's legislation is less popular with City Attorney Tom Carr, who says it would undermine his own cost-cutting proposal--which aims to stop jailing people for minor infractions like unpaid tickets--because taken together, both proposals would effectively eliminate all punishment for DWLS-3 offenses. Licata's office says Carr is ignoring a better option: pre-trial diversion, in which offenders would be diverted into a relicensing program before they're ever prosecuted. ERICA C. BARNETT