Bald Hypocrisy

Guess who's threatening to take the city to court because he thinks the city code is unconstitutional? City Attorney Mark Sidran. What a hypocrite.

Never mind that Sidran, as city attorney, is supposed to be making sure that city ordinances are constitutional. And never mind that Sidran's crackerjack law department was nowhere to be found last June when members of the public were raising constitutional concerns about city code. At two public meetings in early June, the city's Ethics and Elections Commission set its 2001 election rules, and--despite objections from the ACLU--reaffirmed the city's constitutionally dubious rule that candidates cannot discuss opponents in the voters' guide [Five to Four, Josh Feit, June 14].

What's noteworthy is that Mark Sidran is complaining about those city rules now that he has something to lose. As city attorney, Sidran may be lackadaisical about defending citizens' constitutional rights, but as a mayoral candidate he's apparently made candidates' constitutional rights a top priority.

Last week, Sidran, who wants the freedom to criticize his opponents in the voters' guide, had the temerity to threaten a "possible court challenge" over the "unconstitutionality" of the city's rule. Again, where was Sidran in June when the public was raising questions about this very issue? "Somebody running for mayor may want to talk about the problems they see with [the sitting] mayor," ACLU director Doug Honig told Five to Four at the time. "It's ridiculous for the government to tell them they can't talk about that."

Obviously, Sidran is correct to challenge the harebrained rule. But his office's earlier silence and inaction on the issue is both an embarrassing commentary on Sidran's stewardship of city law, and--thanks to his campaign season grandstanding--a bald display of hypocrisy.

52-Card Pickup

Last week, Five to Four reported that the deck was stacked against Initiative 63, the anti-sprawl, pro-water-conservation measure. Council President Margaret Pageler, an open antagonist of the enviro initiative, had created a "citizen review panel" to scrutinize I-63. Her panel, slated to use $10,000 in taxpayer money, was heavily weighted with large commercial water users and suburbanites.

Thankfully, after the panel's first meeting on August 1, where panelist Sarah Jaynes from the Washington Conservation Voters raised concerns about the biased process and two panel presenters refused to participate, the stacked deck has devolved into a game of 52-card pickup.

Earlier this week, the chairs of the panel reportedly drafted a letter to Pageler to summarize some questions about the controversial panel.

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