WHILE A recent Wes Uhlman fundraising letter supporting Cheryl Chow may have raised questions at the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission about Uhlman's excessive donations [see In Other News, Sept 16], the letter also raised a load of cash.

On August 12, Uhlman -- former Seattle mayor and current slumlord -- dropped $383 on a mailing to "Rental Property Owners," slamming Chow's opponent Judy Nicastro as a "dangerous" renters' rights zealot and asking people to send money to Chow, pronto. It worked.

Prior to the mailing, Chow and Nicastro were neck-to-neck in the cash chase: Both candidates had pulled in about $30,000. However, heading into the primary vote one month after the Uhlman letter went out, Chow's total hit $50,000. Nicastro checked in at $37,000.

Judging from the list of recent Chow contributors, Uhlman's letter to fellow landlords was a big reason for the cash infusion. For example, maximum $400 contributions came in from the Washington Association of Realtors and folks from the Apartment Association of Seattle King County (AASK), like Douglas Neyhart and Elsa Young. In fact, with owners from the East Roy St. Apartments to the SW Avolon Apartments to the Hillree Manor Apartments kicking in big donations, at least $6,000 came in from realtors and rental property owners between August 16 and September 13.

Arlen Olson, executive director at the Tenants' Union, thinks Chow's ability to advocate for renters' rights will be compromised by the flood of property owner cash. Zooming in on Neyhart's recent $400 gift (Neyhart is on the AASK board), Olson says, "Neyhart is active in lobbying efforts in Olympia to roll back tenants' rights. Last year, for example, he testified against a bill that would have made it easier for tenants to get repairs done." The bill didn't get out of committee.

It's no surprise Neyhart lobbied against the bill. According to records in the code compliance office at the Department of Design Construction and Land Use, city housing inspectors have fielded several housing violation complaints resulting in cases on Neyhart's properties. In fact, at Neyhart's 1727 Summit Ave. building, there are two active cases. Neyhart could not be reached for comment.

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