Rating Rossi's Record

Washington State Republican Party chair Chris Vance says his party's newfound gubernatorial hopeful--Republican state senate budget chairman Dino Rossi (from South and East King County)--is exactly the kind of moderate candidate the R's need to finally win back the governor's mansion. (Vance's R's have been plagued with polarizing conservative candidates, and haven't held the governor's seat since 1984.)

"Dino Rossi is a fiscal conservative with a social conscience," Vance says. That would be news to gay rights, civil liberties, and pro-choice groups. Voting-record ratings from NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, Washington Gay Rights Info., and the ACLU respectively, are: "anti-choice," F on gay rights, and only voted the ACLU's way a paltry 17 percent of the time. JOSH FEIT

Suing Seattle Center

For his next trick, Michael Berger, AKA "Magic Mike," who regularly performs his magic and balloon act at Seattle Center, is suing the Center. Last week, Berger filed suit in federal court, claiming the Center's rules for performers--which (among other things) require them to register with the Center and wear ID badges, and restrict them to a limited number of grounds locations--are unconstitutional. Berger previously sued the city (the Seattle Center is a department of the City of Seattle) in the mid-'90s over similar issues, a case the city settled out of court with a $7,000 payout, but he says the harassment has continued. The city has not yet responded to the lawsuit. SANDEEP KAUSHIK

Nixing the Ballard Skate Bowl?

When Ballard skateboarders sold T-shirts and held benefits last year to build the Ballard skate bowl, they knew the structure's future was uncertain ["Obstacle Course," Jennifer Elam, Dec 13, 2001]. But they built the bowl anyway, turning the weedy field into a popular skate park. Now, the skate bowl, located at 22nd Avenue Northwest and Northwest 57th Street, might get shut down.

The site of a former Safeway, the lot was slated by the 2000 parks levy to be turned into a park--not a skate bowl. After a series of public meetings that will conclude in January, the city will decide whether or not to keep the bowl. The first public meeting was held October 28. Bowl supporter Chris Hildebrand is currently working with the city as a consultant for the park. "Everyone [at the meeting] was saying the same thing," he says. "'Save the Ballard bowl; keep the Ballard bowl.'" MAHRYA DRAHEIM

Kissing Up to Landlords

On Monday, November 3, the Seattle City Council set up rules regulating third-party water billing, an increasingly common practice in which private companies bill tenants for a portion of a building's total water usage. Tenant advocates regard the formulas used by billing companies to divvy up water usage as arbitrary and often unfair; under the most common billing system, for example, tenants have reported paying monthly water bills as high as $50--even when they've been on vacation or live alone.

While the reforms, which require billing companies to disclose their billing practices and follow state and local laws, are a step in the right direction, the council missed a critical opportunity to ban such billing systems altogether, voting 5-3 against an amendment--sponsored by fierce tenants' advocate Judy Nicastro--that would prohibit the practice. So-called progressives Peter Steinbrueck and Heidi Wills--who was reportedly seen at a recent legislative hearing on the issue reading from a list of questions supplied by the Rental Housing Association of Puget Sound (RHA), a landlord lobbying group--opposed Nicastro's amendment. Wills received $250 in mid-October from the RHA. ERICA C. BARNETT

Judging the Candidates

A quick "Greatest Hits" from the Stranger Election Bowling League's 2003 Seattle City Council candidate forum, held on October 30 at a packed Kane Hall on the University of Washington campus:

Best off-the-cuff proposal: Peter Steinbrueck, to the surprise of The Stranger (and his own staff!), proposed combining Sound Transit and the Seattle Monorail Project to help end the "politicizing" of the monorail and light rail.

Best preemptive strike: John Manning, who pled guilty to two misdemeanors after being arrested for domestic violence, grabbed the mic in response to a general question about domestic violence. "We do not go far enough helping victims of domestic violence," he said. "We need to give them as much help as we give the perpetrator of the crime."

Best sport: Tom Rasmussen, who accepted our dare to take a lap dance in front of the 200-plus people in attendance (including Rasmussen's boyfriend, Clayton Lewis). His opponent, Margaret Pageler, wants to impose a rule keeping dancers at least four feet away from strip club patrons.

Best one-liner: Rasmussen, after receiving his lap dance: "No wonder Margaret's proposing that rule!"

Best fuck-you: Heidi Wills, defending her support for the controversial circus-animal ban: "I think it's a very salient and relevant issue," she said. Then she accepted our dare to sit on a picture of Times columnist Joni Balter's face. Balter spent the campaign season lampooning Wills as a wild liberal for the circus-animals legislation. Wills concluded sarcastically, "[Similar legislation] passed in that liberal hotbed of Redmond, Washington!" ERICA C. BARNETT