Mayor Greg Nickels may have been psyched about his first 100 days in office--he was proud, as all the papers dutifully reported, of repairing a lot of potholes--but we're psyched about day 178.

On day 178--Thursday, June 27--Mayor Nickels issued his first veto, nixing Seattle City Council legislation that gave bigwig developer Richard Hedreen a freebie. ["The Six Million Dollar Scam," Josh Feit, June 20.]

On June 24, the council voted 5-3 to let R. C. Hedreen Co. have $6 million worth of extra square footage bonuses toward a new downtown hotel without making Hedreen do the low-income housing development that's required to earn the bonus.

Well, Nickels put a stop the council's nonsense. "Housing bonus credits are intended to be used at a specific location to mitigate corresponding development. They are not portable. They are not a commodity that you can buy and sell," Nickels says.

In addition to being a kickass public policy decision, there are two things we like about Nickels' veto. First, it provides a lift to the council's righteous (but often black sheep) member, Nick Licata. Licata, along with his super-diligent staffer Lisa Herbold, led the 11th-floor charge against the Hedreen handout. Nickels-Licata teamups are something we'd like to see more of, because they will lead to admirable policy decisions like the Hedreen veto. We hope we're witnessing the beginning of a new political relationship.

Second, Nickels' veto sets an example for fraidy-cat lefties who voted for the ordinance, like Judy Nicastro and Heidi Wills. Apparently they were reluctant to stand up to rich developer Richard Hedreen and his high-powered lobbyist, Jamie Durkan. Nickels' veto shows that local politicians can buck the status quo and live to tell about it. (Nicastro has certainly taken dissident votes in the past, but not in moments when her vote would have a direct effect like Nickels' veto did.)

Finally, I'd like to bury Durkan's amateurish sound bites accusing Nickels of being in labor's back pocket:

"They [labor union members] want a political victory to show they control the mayor," Durkan told the Seattle Times prior to Nickels' veto. (Nickels' allies at the Hotel Employees Restaurant Employees Local 8 had been in negotiations with Hedreen about unionizing hotel employees at his future site, and threatened to lobby against the extra square footage deal as a bargaining tactic against Hedreen.)

After the veto, Durkan had this to say in the Post Intelligencer: "Clearly labor had a big impact on the mayor's decision."

Please. Durkan's Jimmy Hoffa "Big Labor" imagery is a lark. H.E.R.E. Local 8 is a scrappy little left-wing union that represents folks who have a.m. shifts cleaning hotels. If Nickels is in the back pocket of the people who clean downtown hotels, God bless him.

josh@thestranger.com

Support The Stranger