To those who would claim that covering the Seattle City Council is--not to put too fine a point on it--boring, I submit the following evidence to the contrary: Just last week, no fewer than three paranoid political theories were circulating among city-hall gadabouts, revolving around an election that remains, let's note, a good eight months away. And if obsessive political speculation ain't exciting--well, I don't know what will make you people happy.

So far, the most interesting rumors are spinning around the untenably crowded race for the seat occupied by Richard Conlin, who has--count 'em--five opponents. Rumor #1 has it that brash County Council Member Dwight Pelz, a close ally of Conlin's on most political issues, is about to switch seats. Of the four incumbents up for reelection, the likeliest targets are Richard McIver and Jan Drago--though Pelz, for his part, points out tartly that the deadline for choosing seats isn't until July. Both choices have a certain logic (McIver's viewed as vulnerable; Drago only has $5,000 in the bank), though the likely entry of onetime Judy Nicastro opponent Robert Rosencrantz into McIver's race (that's Rumor #2) could make his seat considerably less enticing.

Among those pushing Pelz to move is music promoter and professional schmoozer Dave Meinert, who met with Pelz over beers at the Mirabeau Room, Meinert's chic Lower Queen Anne bar, last week. The music community adores Conlin because he opposed the draconian Teen Dance Ordinance, and Meinert told Pelz he'll "work my hardest to see him defeated" if he stays in Conlin's race.

Speaking of rabid Conlin supporters: Vera Project director James Keblas, seen last weekend gazing up at a 14-foot trailer home/art installation in the freezing loading dock behind ConWorks, is taking over the Mayor's Office of Film and Music from retiring office veteran Donna James. Keblas, who beat out two competitors (including Seattle Times jazz critic Paul de Barros), will be replaced temporarily by all-ages advocate Kate Becker, who's returning from L.A. to head up Vera's search for a replacement.

Seattle Rep. Sharon Tomiko-Santos is sponsoring a bill that would undercut a Seattle law regulating tax-refund-anticipation loans, which provide fast cash against anticipated income-tax refunds, often at astronomical interest rates. Although the law has been stripped of some of its more heinous provisions, many serious problems--including watered-down disclosure requirements, lowered penalties, and a loophole that lets other, nearly identical products escape regulation--remain. City Council Member Tom Rasmussen, who sponsored the city's own more stringent law, seemed disappointed and a little mystified that Santos (a progressive rep) would support a law overriding Seattle's liberal legislation. It's interesting to note that Santos took in more than $2,000 last year from groups that represent accountants and other pro-RALs organizations during the last election: precisely the groups that stand to benefit from weakened Seattle legislation.

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