Lest Mayor Greg "Paul Allen" Nickels be accused of selling out to big business these days (note those grand development-friendly plans for South Lake Union and Northgate), he's got two proposals in the hopper that are tailor-made for business foes: labor in one instance and neighborhoods in the other. Most important, both proposals demonstrate Nickels' political savvy because they throw an uncomfortable spotlight on the council.

The pro-union proposal would make it difficult for building owners to replace unionized janitorial staffers with nonunion shops--something downtown developer Martin Selig did last year. Selig, who blasted the proposal in the Seattle Times last week, also happens to be a big donor to Council Members Jim Compton, Richard Conlin, Judy Nicastro, and Heidi Wills. Keep an eye on those votes. (Now's your chance to prove the campaign-finance cynics wrong, Heidi. Wills, ridiculed for recent suspect donations from a strip club seeking a rezone, got $1,300 from Selig in 2002.)

The pro-neighborhood proposal, which would make it more difficult for cell phone companies to place cell phone antennas in residential zones, casts a spotlight on Nicastro, Nickels' least favorite council member. Nicastro, who chairs the land use committee, could be seen as anti-neighborhood if she scuttles the legislation. But that's exactly what she should do.

After much debate, this issue was resolved last year. Nicastro helped usher through a joint Nickels/DCLU ordinance that restricted antennas. Moreover, the new proposal seems unfair to cell phone companies (quite frankly, it raises the bar on a company's ability to prove the necessity for placing an antenna in a single-family zone to a ridiculously high standard). It's likely to screw up cell phone reception for the estimated 46 percent of Seattleites (as of 2000) who own them. Sheesh--at a Beacon Hill community meeting last April, during which neighbors decried cell phone antennas, city staffers couldn't help but notice that people kept getting up and leaving the meeting to use those cell phones. (Nationally, cell phone ownership has increased 22 percent per year since 2000, according to the Wireless Access Coalition.)

Nickels staffers have accused Nicastro of "holding" the legislation because she's scared of taking on the issue during the election season. They also say she's on the dole from wireless companies. Don't buy it. First of all, the city's Ethics and Elections Commission shows that Nicastro isn't raking in the dough from mobile companies. More important, given that last year's legislation--sponsored by the mayor, for Pete's sake--is only a few months old, it seems weird that Nickels is accusing Nicastro of politically motivated obstruction. Nicastro staffer Jill Berkey says Nicastro has scheduled a committee meeting on the issue for September.


Support The Stranger