One issue on which every single candidate in every single city council race this year seems to agree is the need to put more police officers on the street. The Seattle Police Department, which had a sworn force of 1,285 officers at the beginning of 2007, had expected to hire 80 new officers this year—24 in the first three months. Those hiring goals would have brought the total number of full-time SPD staffers to above 1,300—if SPD had managed to meet them. Instead, according to a new report by city council staff, SPD hired just nine new officers in the first quarter of 2007, "falling short of... hiring goals" set as part of a massive hiring push last year, according to a city council report issued last month. But not only has SPD failed to hire as many new cops as expected, it's actually lost more than it's gained, thanks to a "higher than normal rate of separations," the SPD term for officers leaving the force. "Positions in service," meanwhile—fully trained officers on active duty—are expected to decline throughout 2007 to fewer than 1,200. SPD says it will make up the shortfall with "more aggressive recruiting"; however, given the long-term shortfall in police recruits around the country, that prediction seems excessively optimistic.

If you're paid to lobby county, state, or federal officials on behalf of a company, political group, or neighborhood organization, state law requires you to register as a lobbyist in a statewide database. The mandate is based on the principle of transparency: Citizens have a right to know who's lobbying their elected officials, who they work for, and how much they're getting paid.

Not so at the city council, where hired flacks can lobby your elected officials without revealing anything about themselves or their clients. Proposals to change this somewhat antiquated system have failed in years past, bogging down in lengthy, byzantine debates over who should be required to register. On August 7, council president Nick Licata introduced a proposal to change that, requiring anyone who lobbies the city council to register as a lobbyist and inform the public about their clients, salaries, and expenditures.

Remember all those stories in the wake of the Minneapolis bridge collapse highlighting the fact that the bridge received a ranking of just 50 percent on a federal scale of 1 to 100, making it "structurally deficient"?

The central portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct was ranked on the same scale. Its score: 9 percent. And if that doesn't make you want to stay away from the viaduct until they tear the damn thing down, perhaps knowing that the National Bridge Inventory (which provided the Minnesota number) considers it "basically intolerable, requiring high priority of corrective action," will. Says Bridge Inventory creator Alexander Svirsky: "[The viaduct] is in desperate need of repair." recommended