Della Plays Chicken with Voters

Like a high-school theater teacher unveiling the cast list to anxious theater kids, city council prez Jan Drago announced the starring roles of the new-look Seattle City Council last week. And like a gleeful theater fag waltzing away with the Danny Zuko role in Grease, some council members were surely thrilled with their assignments: Senior council member Nick "Police Accountability" Licata finally landed the public safety chair gig, where he can push his progressive agenda; freshman Tom "Social Services" Rasmussen landed the substantive Housing, Human Services and Health committee; and senior Richard McIver will take over the all-important budget committee.

Other eager council members, just like the prima donna who gets stuck playing Toto in The Wizard of Oz, were surely fighting back tears: Council president wannabe Jim Compton got stuck with sewer, water, and garbage while David "nine-point plan to save Seattle City Light" Della got the Parks and Neighborhood committee. Overseeing City Light--the raison d'*tre of Della's campaign--was handed over to his fellow freshman Jean Godden. What a dis on Della! Or at least you'd think so.

As the guy who won his council seat this November by going negative about utility debt and electricity rate increases, blaming his opponent and City Light committee chair Heidi Wills, Della--who boasted that he would reform the agency--surely wanted the City Light assignment. Right? Wrong.Della actually told Drago he didn't want the gig. Let me repeat that: David "Rate Hike Heidi" Della did not want the City Light gig. Very high sources on council, in fact, say it seemed that Della didn't want the committee because it was too controversial.

If true, Della's aversion--claiming that City Light is too controversial--is galling. (Della acknowledged to the Stranger that he didn't want the gig, but didn't elaborate.) Della ran a controversial negative campaign where he promoted a nine-point plan to save City Light. "I'm running against Heidi Wills because she fundamentally failed in her primary responsibility as energy chair," Della told the Muni League during the campaign. "This agency needs new oversight, and I'm willing to do what it takes to bring this utility back under fiscal control." (Yeah, everything except chair the oversight committee.)

In Della's mailers to voters, he also indicated he would take the leadership position on City Light. We quote: "David Della understands that Heidi's mismanagement of City Light has hurt all Seattleites. He's comitted to putting the ratepayers first. He'll work to cut unnecessary spending and to renegotiate Heidi's power contracts." However, after scaring voters into picking him over Wills, Della is now scared to tackle City Light?

"This is a very risk-averse bunch," an anonymous council member told me about the new council members. Well, newcomer Della should have thought about that when he was making campaign promises.

josh@thestranger.com

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