"Man! This is a cool day!" exclaims a frat boy, dazzled by the KUBE Hummer parked outside UW's frat row. Glossy promotional trinkets and posters of celebs asking "Milk: Where's Your Mustache?" brighten the walls inside Beta Theta Pi fraternity. A beefy herd of frat boys circles the room--one wears a toga. Soon a pair of blonde field hockey players arrives, then a professional Cher look-alike.
Everyone's here thanks to a National Dairy Council contest: the best photo of a milk-mustached student athlete will be featured in an ad in Sports Illustrated.
Outside, David Bemel of Students for Animal Liberation leans giant signs against trees--"Milk is Torture," they say, and "Go Vegan." While Bemel can rattle off a litany of reasons to avoid drinking cow's milk, his main concern is animal cruelty. Dairy cows, he says, live a hellish life of confinement and never-ending pregnancy. When they're "used up" the cows are slaughtered.
BSMG Worldwide ad exec Hugh Williams, representing the Milk Mustache campaign, counters that the dairy industry is "the most well-regulated among the food industries, with regards to how cows are treated."
Asked to choose sides, event organizer Marie Duplantis, of the Panhellenic Inter Fraternity Council, says the Greek community "supports Got Milk and what they have to say." While the event is big PR for the dairy industry, what's in it for the frats? "Publicity for the UW. We want to win the contest, and get into Sports Illustrated. It's a way to show Husky pride."--Sara DeBell
KICKING CORPORATE CAN
On April 12, roughly a year after an embarrassing vote to reject sanctions which would support democracy in Burma, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed a resolution against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment.
The MAI is the most comprehensive free-trade agreement ever drafted. Cooked up in secret by business leaders from international Fortune 500 companies, it would improve the global investment climate at the expense of labor standards and environmental protections, leaving local governments helpless to enforce their own rules against multinationals.
The City Council resolution was sponsored by the council's three most recent additions--Richard Conlin, Peter Steinbrueck, and Nick Licata--all of whom voted in favor of the sanctions during last year's Burma fiasco. This time the newcomers managed to convince the council's corporate-friendly old guard that not everything the trade lobby supports is automatically correct. Even Jan "Drive-Thru" Drago, who's known for making hand-outs to corporations, voted against the trade proposal.
"Our whole strategy was framed by the Burma experience," says Licata aide Newell Aldrich. "That was foremost in our minds." Rather than proselytizing council members into a moral corner and getting the expected response, backers of the resolution left the big issues out and focused on the matter of local control. A wise strategy: If there's one thing the old guard understands, it's the importance of turf.--Ben Jacklet
HEELS ON WHEELS
A King County proposal to automatically tow the cars of people who drive with suspended or revoked licenses is drawing fire from advocates of poor and minority communities. King County Councilmember Larry Gossett Jr. says the ordinance (which has already been enacted in Seattle) would disproportionately impact African Americans, because blacks are targeted more often by traffic cops.
Since Seattle enacted its ordinance, 804 cars have been towed--36% were owned by African Americans (who make up approximately 10% of Seattle's population). Of the 1,553 people cited for driving with suspended licenses, 44.3% were African American. "The implementation of these laws is class- and race-biased," says Gossett. "Most of the African Americans who are unable to pay their tickets live at or below the poverty line."
Proponents of the law say towing is a good way to enforce parking laws, and point to statistics showing that drivers with suspended licenses commit more crimes. But Heyward Evans of the Central Area Motivational Program says towing poor people's cars when they've committed minor offenses is counterproductive, and can keep them out of the workforce. He testified in Olympia recently in support of a bill that would provide Workfirst candidates special licenses allowing them to drive to and from work--often located in distant suburbs--along a route determined by the Department of Licensing. "We shouldn't be digging poor people deeper holes," Evans says. "We should be helping them get out."--Samantha M. Shapiro