The Times They Are A-Changin'
City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck (the handsome one with the famous father) will be the next council president. In addition to appointing committee chairs, the council president--à la Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle--controls the legislative ebb and flow, telling certain colleagues when to shut up.
Speaking of certain colleagues: Steinbrueck's victory is a blow to the lordly Jim Compton and the council's conservative wing. The conservatives (current president Margaret Pageler and ally Jan Drago) had hoped to install Compton as president. Now, they're stuck with an unapologetic Ralph Nader fan (Steinbrueck) who comes armed with a proposal to sting downtown merchants with a parking tax. JOSH FEIT
Despite turning management of the Woodland Park Zoo over to the private, nonprofit Woodland Park Zoological Society (and thus losing a measure of public oversight on things like labor policy), the city will keep pouring about $10 million a year into the zoo. Most of the money will come from the general fund, money usually spent on public safety and transportation.
Judy Nicastro was the lone vote against the 20-year contract--passed Monday, December 17. She thinks committing a chunk of the general fund to the zoo might mean future cuts in vital services.
Here's a partial breakdown of the city's zoo bill: $5.5 million per year for maintenance and operating expenses, plus $2.5 million from the Parks Levy. And after the Parks Levy expires in 2008, the city has to come up with $2.5 from the general fund to replace it.
"That's guaranteed funding of over $8.25 million a year," Nicastro says. "No one else gets that in the city." AMY JENNIGES
Gay and Out (of Business)
On December 14, after a year-long run, the Seattle Gay Standard closed its doors. Publisher Michael Bradbury cited declining ad sales. He says he considered selling the weekly publication to a local telecommunications company, but the deal fell through--leaving Seattle with only one queer paper, the Seattle Gay News. AMY JENNIGES
Quote of the Week
"Not guilty."--Gary Ridgway defense attorney Tony Savage.