Two weeks ago, in the wake of an audit that found "significant" problems with the city's contracts for defense services for the indigent, the city council unanimously passed a resolution giving Mayor Greg Nickels two weeks to come up with a politically "independent" process for choosing public defenders. ["On the Defensive," Erica C. Barnett, August 16]. On Friday, August 24, Nickels responded—by selecting his own six-person panel, including his own legal counsel, Regina Labelle, and two departmental staffers who answer directly to Nickels. Late on Friday, council president Nick Licata responded, vowing to pass an ordinance that would force the mayor to abide by the council's directive and create an independent body to choose public-defense contractors. ERICA C. BARNETT


Residents of the Lock Vista Apartments in Ballard are fighting to keep their low-rent complex from being converted into condominiums. Lock Vista resident Mona Lang says the sale of the large, five-building complex—home to many artists and elderly people—is a symptom of a larger problem in Seattle, where there is no cap on the number of apartments that can be converted to condos in a year. "Affordable housing is disappearing all over the city," she says. "Not everybody can buy a condo." Residents are getting together a petition and working with the Seattle Displacement Coalition in the hopes of halting the conversion of the building, where the average rent is about $775 a month. JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE


David Heurtel, the deputy director of Seattle Center, is resigning. He intends to stay in the city but says he not leaving for another job. "There wasn't a watershed moment or some drama," Heurtel says. "I've just been looking at where my life is going and where the Center is going. It's time to turn the page and let somebody else take over."

Heurtel came to Seattle Center three years ago from Montreal, where he worked as an entertainment attorney. Since then, good stuff has happened at the Center—the Vera Project and SIFF Cinema moved in, and the Center's Century 21 Committee started talking about getting rid of some of the ugliness (like Memorial Stadium).

Dave Meinert, a businessman and activist in the music community, says Heurtel's departure is a loss for the Center. "Heurtel is a visionary, entrepreneurial guy. Sometimes entrepreneurial, visionary people have difficulty working in bureaucracies." BRENDAN KILEY