Sonics vs. Alexie

On June 9, U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled that author, Stranger contributor, and longtime Sonics season-ticket holder Sherman Alexie could testify at the upcoming Sonics trial. Attorneys for the Professional Basketball Club (PBC)—the group seeking to relocate the Sonics to Oklahoma City—previously attempted to block Alexie's testimony, citing "profanity-laced" tirades in his weekly Sonics Death Watch column in The Stranger.

"Regardless of the outcome of the trial, the fact that I get to testify is a victory for season-ticket holders and all professional basketball fans; one of us is being given a voice in this potentially revolutionary trial," Alexie said in an e-mail.

The PBC is attempting to move the team before the Sonics' KeyArena lease runs out in 2010, citing financial losses. The city is suing to block the move—which was endorsed by a majority of other NBA team owners—to force the Sonics to play out their final season at KeyArena.

The trial is scheduled to begin on Monday, June 16. JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE

Owners vs. Drivers

At a raucous public hearing in council chambers last week, dozens of taxi drivers and taxicab owners squared off over proposed changes to the code governing taxi licensing and rates. On the table: a proposal that would require taxi companies to phase in fuel-efficient cabs; increase the number of taxi licenses in the city, making new licenses nontransferable for five years and capping the amount owners can charge drivers to lease them; and increase several fees and rates, including basic taxi rates.

Taxi owners, many of them Sikhs in brightly colored turbans, argued that increasing the number of licenses would flood the market and diminish the value of their own licenses, which cost as much as $180,000 on the open market. "If [drivers] want to be owners, they can go to Spokane," said Farwest owner Harwinder Mattu, a comment that prompted jeers from the mostly East African drivers in the room. Deb Duggan, a driver for Yellow, noted that most drivers lease their cabs from owners, often paying the cost of insurance, gas, and maintenance on the car. "We want to reform the behavior of the owners that don't drive," she said.

Jean Godden, who chaired the meeting, struggled to keep order in the crowded room, banging her gavel repeatedly to little avail. Her attempts to pronounce most of the cabbies' names was no more successful.

The council seems almost certain to approve the changes to the taxi code later this summer. ERICA C. BARNETT

Rats vs. Development

A few days after a backhoe began demolishing several buildings in the Central District along East Madison Street—including Deano's, near an intersection notorious for drug dealing and prostitution—rats began to flee the site, "scouring around for new homes," according to the Miller Park neighborhood blog.

A week earlier, property owner Dean Falls had sold the parcel to a development company for $7.5 million. The buyer, Jim Mueller, says he plans to construct a six-story building with retail on the street level and around 200 apartments above.

Mueller doesn't expect the nefarious activity to return to the area after construction is finished because he is planning another development across the street that will replace the Twilight Exit. "The fact that we own the two pieces of property across from each other allows us to really change the feel of the location," he says.

Miller Park Advisory Council member Andrew Taylor also thinks the crack dealing will gone for good. "Mueller handled the rat issue very speedily," he says. DOMINIC HOLDEN

Idiots vs. Art

On Wednesday, June 11, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Hill Arts Center (1621 12th Ave), Sound Transit will host the second public meeting about the installations proposed by Brooklyn artist Mike Ross and Seattle artist Ellen Forney for the underground Capitol Hill light-rail station. Ross's proposal consists of two vivisected fighter planes painted pink and hung nose-to-nose to look like they're kissing.

The first public meeting resulted in a steaming pile of idiocy, of small-mindedness and xenophobia (including catcalls to Ross of "You're not even from here!").

Ross's project has plenty of promise. He's working in the most impossible medium (public art), in a completely impossible space (an underground cavern choked with architectural crossbeams), and yet he still has managed to come up with something that has poetic potential.

Much will depend on the details—it's never possible to judge a sculpture before it's built—but Ross's idea has legs, and that's saying a lot in the usually deadly-awful category of public art. His piece, working in tandem with Forney's playful murals, could actually succeed down there.

But not if it's not built. Tonight is your chance to stop the madness. JEN GRAVES