Team Nickels: Who's the mayor's office backing in this year's city council races? Nickels isn't taking a public stance, but judging from the donations Nickels' staff has been making, Team Nickels clearly has its favorites.

It should come as no surprise that Heidi Wills, Nickels' fellow Democratic Party loyalist and overly reliable council ally, grabbed the most--43 percent of the dough.

Similarly, no one will be surprised to learn that Kollin Min--one of the folks challenging Nickels' least favorite council member, Judy Nicastro--was the second-biggest recipient of Nickels staff affections. Heck, Katie Hong, Nickels' former staffer--and Nickels' hand-picked director for the city's housing department--was spotted at a September 8 campaign event lugging Min signs from Min's car. Tellingly, though, the Nickels employee who sent the most anti-Nicastro dough Min's way ($350) was Nickels' council lobbyist.

The other top recipient of Nickels' cash--tying Min at 26 percent--was Margaret Pageler. It's not that Nickels' folks dig Pageler's politics, it's more, they say, that they always know where Pageler stands on an issue. Yeah, me too: pro "civility," pro corporate giveaways, anti monorail, and decidedly unfriendly to low-income housing programs. Ugh.

Hats off, however, to one courageous dissident on Nickels' staff. Viet Shelton, the mayor's correspondence manager, donated $50 to David Della, who's running against his boss' pal Wills.

Team Vulcan: Thanks to Jim Compton's Portland Trailblazers $950 junket (courtesy of Paul Allen), the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission has prohibited Compton from voting on any major Vulcan or South Lake Union issues for the next year. It's a fitting punishment for the council's most ethically challenged member, who otherwise went unscathed--even netting the Seattle Times' endorsement. Unfortunately, at Compton's Friday afternoon, September 12, mea culpa press conference, he didn't appreciate the larger issue. When I asked him if he would return the $13,000 or so in Vulcan-related donations he's gotten this election season (Compton sponsored a council resolution rubber-stamping Vulcan's South Lake Union agenda), he said no way.

Speaking of campaign cash: There's something you should know about holier-than-thou ethics guy Tim Burgess, the former Seattle's Ethics and Elections commissioner who wrote a couple of holier-than-thou guest columns in the Seattle Times this summer about the city council. Burgess, whose second guest column was a "throw the bums out" screed, maxed out to Robert Rosencrantz, who's challenging Nicastro. I don't have a problem with a pro-Rosencrantz guy editorializing in the Times, but readers should've been alerted that Burgess wrote a big check. Burgess' $650 gift to Rosencrantz came on September 3--less than a week before his editorial against incumbents like Nicastro was published. (Oh, by the way, grande ethicist Burgess also donated $650 to Compton.)

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