Produce and productivity

No big surprises last week, as the City Council formally approved policy changes granting farmers extra daystall space in the Pike Place Market, even if crafts merchants are displaced. The council had earlier returned the changes to the Market preservation and development authority council for further study; the PDA panel studied the changes and sent 'em back as is.

Council member Nick Licata unsuccessfully tried to send the proposal back a second time in hopes the PDA board might add language protecting crafts merchants. Although Sue Donaldson and Richard Conlin, who might have supported Licata's approach, were absent from the meeting, he chose not to postpone the vote for a week because their presence wouldn't have changed the final result.

Actually, the City Council's vote squares with its policy of deferring to the PDA council in internal Market affairs. More dismaying was the vote that followed—a 6-1 rubber-stamp of the reappointment of PDA council member Ernie Sherman. This will be Sherman's fifth straight term, a stunning violation of the city's "informal policy" (translation: a policy that is ignored at will) of limiting board and commission appointees to two consecutive terms. Given the council's hands-off attitude toward the Market PDA, confirmation hearings like Sherman's are the only chance for citizens to petition their policymakers for redress. Which made the hand wringing of council members Jan Drago and Martha Choe over public criticism of Sherman's performance especially hard to take. Such a disdain for democracy seems an unbecoming trait in elected officials.

The comments of council members trying to stress how much they love everything about the Market contained some non sequiturish gems. "I think we want productivity in the Market, we want produce in the Market, and we want creative work," said Margaret Pageler. Her colleague, Jan Drago, used her podium time to pose the lyrical question: "How can we collectively—as a market, as a community, as a city—move forward?" But Licata snagged the open mike title with this memorable statement: "We wouldn't have a farmer's market without farmers—that goes without saying." Right you are, Nick.

Cooking their goose

Canada geese, those lovely and graceful creatures much reviled in the Puget Sound area for their unmatchable skills at eating grass, pooping, and reproducing, are once again facing the final solution. In a February 8 memo to the Seattle Parks Board, parks superintendent Ken Bounds says federal regulators are exploring the option of "lethal control in specific problem areas." In plain English, this means when geese get really annoying, the feds are going to kill them.

Bounds presented a two-page summary of the goose-related challenges faced by the stewards of our parks, beaches, pools, and golf courses. (Summary: Goose poop is gross, and people tend to step in it.) The geese feces problem was traditionally a summer gripe centered around beaches and waterfront parks, says the Parks Department's Donald Harris, coordinator of the Seattle Waterfowl Management. But, given the number of city playfields in close proximity to water, complaints about goose doo are becoming a year-round headache.

Offing geese is an idea that appears every couple of years, especially given that us humans continue to provide an environment with plenty of grass and few predators. The less controversial option practiced by the US Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services Division was to ship them to Eastern Washington (as we do mediocre high school football players). Since 1990, a total of 7,342 geese were captured and moved to more remote areas, but most receiving jurisdictions have indicated that they now have plenty of geese, thank you very much. A program to tamper with goose eggs to keep them from hatching has also prevented 6,336 geese from joining our flocks since 1993, reports Bounds. If nothing else, these exact numbers indicate some damn impressive recordkeeping skills.

Civic computer chic

San Francisco still holds the title of the nation's most wired metropolitan area, according to a Yahoo! magazine survey. But Seattle managed a third-place showing. (Austin, Texas, the home of Dell Computer, took second.) The most impressive stat? Based on a survey of government, media, and cultural sites, Seattle was one of only seven cities to earn a perfect "10" for quality of Web site content. (Special thanks to both Seattle city government and Seth Warshavsky.)

That '80s show

The folks who brought you the 33-cent stamp are at it again. The US Postal Service is seeking the opinions of people just like you as to which impressive and amazing events of the 1980s deserve to be immortalized on postage stamps. Their voting pamphlet demonstrates an uncanny ability to bring everything to the same level, as shown by the cover inscription: "Is it aerobics? The fall of the Berlin Wall? The San Francisco 49ers? Or the compact disc that moves you?" In addition to these four tempting postal topics, the total of 30 choices inside includes such stamp-worthy '80s trends as beach volleyball, minivans, The Cosby Show, and Cabbage Patch Kids. (That's right, the is included.) If you want to skip ahead a decade, think extreme sports, sport utility vehicles, Jerry Springer, and Furby. Please remember to vote early and often.

 
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