Nickels Is a Wuss

Thanks to the brain power of King County Council Member Greg Nickels and the crybaby charisma of City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck, the first bold political issue of the 21st century is clearly upon us: banning violent video games. In a slide-show presentation at the King County Council chambers, Nickels explained that some animated entertainment can turn kids into vicious little monsters, and he asked that the games be banned from public places. Nickels' commitment to saving our youth apparently stems from a complaint by a close friend who took his young son to the Fun Forest arcade at the Seattle Center, where he "was really shocked at the graphic violence available on the video games there," Nickels says.

Steinbrueck enthusiastically picked up on the issue, and promptly got 10 games removed from Seattle Center. (What's next guys, getting city approval on bands that play at Seattle Center's Bumbershoot?)

Besides an aversion to shooting down zombies and bad guys, what do Nickels and Steinbrueck have in common? They both want to be mayor. More importantly, they both know a feel-good non-issue issue when they see one.

"It's kind of silly, if this is the opening shot in [Nickels'] campaign," says Matt Fox, a political consultant and neighborhood activist. "I think it's frankly kind of putting him into Paul Schell wuss territory." JOSH FEIT and INGRID POLSTON

Thanks for Clearing That Up

"Who told you I was a Black Panther?" demanded King County Council Member Larry Gossett. Sure, he was present at the meeting that gave birth to the local Panther Party. Sure, Gossett attended Panther leader Bobby Hutton's 1968 funeral. Sure, he has a healthy FBI file from that period. And hell, yeah, he wore a leather jacket all the time. But Gossett insists he never joined. "I wasn't a member, but I was closely associated with the party," he says. PHIL CAMPBELL

Pay Up

City council staffer Michaelanne Ehrenberg was used to working for free when she ran Heidi Wills' campaign, but it wasn't what she bargained for once she landed in city hall. On the job since January 3, Ehrenberg, along with co-worker Tony Gepner and boss Wills, haven't been paid yet, and must wait another two weeks to receive their due -- including two days that should have landed in the mid-month paycheck. Same story for the city's other new council member, renters' rights poster girl Judy Nicastro. Rent's due, Judy! JOSH FEIT