Sidran Is Just a Jew

Seattleites who disagree about the Giuliani-inspired philosophies of City Attorney-turned- mayoral-candidate Mark Sidran seem to agree on one thing: Sidran is a cut-up. A scream. What a hoot! A real comic, that guy.

While covering city hall for the past two years, all I've heard from politicians and city insiders is how remarkably funny our city attorney is. In fact, his reputation for acerbic hilarity is so pervasive among local politicos that Greg Nickels' campaign--currently enjoying a comfortable lead over Mayor Paul Schell and Sidran in the mayoral race--is expecting Sidran to break out his devastating wit with "funny" TV spots.

Please. Sidran is about as funny as my Uncle Marvin, an insurance salesman from Hartford, Connecticut.

"Funny" is an adjective, like "brilliant," that people should use more sparingly. I mean, how many people do you know who are truly funny? I've got witty friends, but someone who truly cracks me up? I'd be hard-pressed to name two. My officemate David Schmader, for example, is actually funny. Funny enough that he gets paid for it.

Case in point: My Uncle Marvin isn't funny. And that brings me to Sidran--or actually, to the lily-white city of Seattle.

Uncle Marvin--Marvin Shotkin--like my Dad's best friend, George Zitner, or my godfather, Burt Bloomberg, is your typical sarcastic, self-deprecating Jew. They're not especially funny. It's B-grade Woody Allen humor. (Just because Billy Crystal drops into a "Yiddish" accent and says something about the 1954 Brooklyn Dodgers doesn't mean he's funny.)

This is all to say, Seattle's conventional wisdom on Sidran is tinged with America's boorish habit of stereotyping Jews. Despite the fact that Sidran's not unusually funny, the first thing adversaries and local political consultants say is "Mark is so witty." His supposedly urbane sense of humor (somehow "cosmopolitan" to Seattleites) carries a little too much weight with our city's Noah's Bagels-munching Gentiles. It's like saying former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice is such a "soulful" speaker.

For those who are so impressed with Sidran's humor, get over it. The guy's not that funny. He's a Jew.

Curve Ball

The Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) wants to change Rainier Vista--the 481-unit housing project that explicitly serves people making 30 percent of the median income--into a mixed-use community. To calm the fears, SHA had pledged to replace all 481 units with comparable housing.

But as negotiations between SHA and city council members began last week, sources familiar with the meetings say SHA would only commit to making about 192 units that meet the low-income standards currently governing Rainier Vista. This would displace about 60 percent of the people there.

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