NEWS Every once in a great while this ombudsman is left completely flabbergasted. This is one of those great whiles, as the news section this week is not only of surprisingly quality, it actually offers a real honest to God scoop. STEFAN SHARKANSKY, the lone sensible voice in the otherwise liberal cesspool that is this paper, files a report on King County knowingly counting hundreds of illegal votes in the last gubernatorial election. Kudos, Mr. Sharkansky! ALSO: ERICA C. BARNETT on an ethics complaint against the mayor, and SARAH D. FISCHER on wi-fi troubles for a local neighborhood. PLUS: CounterIntel, In the Hall, and Police Beat.

FEATURE Stranger Genius Awards 2005The obvious flaw in this annual "No, The Stranger Really Is Capable of Kind Words" boondoggle is its reliance on The Stranger's arts critics, most of whom lose far too much time to drug-induced napping to be alert enough to recognize genius when they see it. That this year's list of recipients, like past lists, is filled with worthy individuals says less about the paper's ability to fish talent from the depths of obscurity and more about the local pool from which they're fishing. Put another way, even a broken clock is right twice a day; The Stranger is right once a year.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS On the whole, this week's edition is not a complete travesty—arguments could be made in defense of some of it. Still, no one should hold his breath for a repeat performance next week. This is The Stranger, after all, a journalistic blight if there ever was one. If you want quality I steer you, as always, toward that other "alternative" paper in town, the Seattle Weekly. It is what's called in the business a real publication.