Steady?

In what may be the earliest mayoral reelection launch ever, business-industry supporters of Mayor Greg Nickels (up for reelection in 2009) are holding a fundraiser right after Thanksgiving, on December 3, at the downtown law offices of Foster Pepper PLLC. The invitation—signed by representatives of Vulcan, Eli Lilly, Wright Runstad, Wells Fargo, Lease Crutcher Lewis, and others—warns Nickels supporters to "be mindful of the tax burden placed on the business community" and notes that Nickels's "bold and steady leadership in encouraging the transformation of South Lake Union in a few short years into a thriving biotech, commercial, and residential center... has been remarkable."

The suggested donation? Between $250 and $700 (the legal limit). So far, Nickels has collected $241,718.52 and has $174,864.78 in the bank. ERICA C. BARNETT

Shaky

Last week, state senate majority leader Lisa Brown sat down with The Stranger to give us a preview of next year's session, when legislators will face a budget deficit as high as $4 billion. Although Governor Christine Gregoire pledged on the campaign trail that she would not raise taxes, legislators may see no other choice. "If I look at either raising taxes or cutting things like the basic health-care plan, I don't want to go there," Brown says. "We're doing an agency-by-agency evaluation [of potential cuts], but I don't see how that adds up to the kind of numbers we're talking about." Alternatives to higher taxes could include raising tuition at state colleges and universities, eliminating some tax exemptions—Brown says she's particularly interested in economic-development exemptions that are no longer serving economic-development purposes—and refocusing capital spending on projects that are ready to build, a tactic that could increase state revenues.

Meanwhile, King County, which is facing a $90-million-plus budget shortfall, is asking the legislature for new authority to charge residents a utility tax. Brown's response, essentially, is: Get in line. "It's not just the urban counties. That's one thing a lot of people don't realize," Brown says. "The small counties are going bankrupt." She says the legislature could decide to give local governments more spending flexibility within existing revenues, rather than new taxing authority. "It doesn't have to be just the utility tax," she says. ERICA C. BARNETT

Seething

For the third time this year, the Seattle Times is shedding workers in an effort to cut costs. In January, the newspaper laid off 17 employees. In April, it announced it would be getting rid of 131 more (including 49 newsroom positions). Then, earlier this month, publisher Frank Blethen told employees that between 130 and 150 more jobs, including 31 newsroom positions, would have to be cut because of "structural industry changes."

One of those 31 is Eric Devericks, the paper's only editorial cartoonist. "I wasn't shocked," Devericks told The Stranger. "I almost got laid off in May."

Like all of the recently laid-off Times employees, his last day will be December 12. Because he's been at the paper six years, he'll receive an extra six weeks of pay. He doesn't know what he'll do next.

"It's not pleasant news," Devericks said. "I think the editorial pages will be worse off without a cartoonist. But you would expect me to say that."

In the Times newsroom, which is now set to lose a total of about 65 staffers this year, the mood is reportedly grim.

"It's a dismal goddamn place," said one longtime employee. "The whole newsroom is just sort of seething with despair. It's vibrating out the walls like some kind of horrible acid trip, with no comedown in sight." ELI SANDERS

Shortage

While looking for ways to address this year's budgetary shortfall, the city council ran into a shortage of its own. On Friday, the council found itself running out of green paper—the vehicle of choice for so-called "green sheets," or proposed changes to the mayor's budget. After some "running around" to find another case of green paper, a council staffer says, the crisis was averted—but not before at least one "green sheet" was erroneously printed on yellow paper, an error the council staffer says was "kind of an oversight, more than anything else." NANCY DREW

Shit-Talking

A group of disgruntled BMXers apparently struck back at local skaters following a dispute over the use of the Marginal Way Skatepark in Sodo.

According to local skating activist Jason Harrison, a group of BMX riders showed up at the skatepark over the weekend, got into a scuffle with skaters, and left. "A bunch of very disrespectful BMXers show[ed] up... and were talking a whole bunch of shit [and] throwing rocks at skaters," he says.

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Later, Harrison says, the BMXers "took a whole bunch of used motor oil and poured it all over the walls. It takes a hell of a lot of hay and cat litter to clean up." The BMXers also tagged "ride BMX" on the walls of the park.

"We're waiting for someone to slip up and start bragging about it," Harrison says. JONAH SPANGENTHAL-LEE