Buzz

The monorail campaign just keeps getting fatter. With one month to go before the November election, Rise Above It All (RAIA) has raked in around $200,000, including $13,000 from Granite Construction, which is building the Las Vegas monorail; $12,000 from Bombardier, Granite's partner in Vegas and the maker of monorail trains; and $25,000 from Vulcan, Paul Allen's development company. Allen started the Experience Music Project, through which the existing (and now-threatened) monorail runs. The monorail plan keeps the route flexible around Seattle Center, keeping open the possibility that a new monorail might still be routed through EMP and across the Center itself. Daniel Malarkey, the consultant who did a cost-benefit analysis of the monorail, also contributed to the group.

Former campaign treasurer Jeanne Legault says the group's fund-raising prowess is phenomenal, considering the campaign has only been in high gear for about two months. "The average incumbent in a City Council race raises between $180,000 and $200,000 over a whole year," Legault says. "To raise that much money in that short a time is really impressive." In contrast, Citizens Against the Monorail has raised just under $14,000. . . .

Ed Stone, the former Elevated Transportation Company spokesperson who did a brief stint as Rise Above It All's press contact, is out. It's the third departure since August for RAIA, which has five paid staffers. But campaign spokesperson Peter Sherwin says the firings don't reflect a deeper rift. "We all want the same end," Sherwin says. "This is definitely not a battle in the campaign." The two other ex-staffers, Belltown Community Council president Zander Batchelder and ex-treasurer Legault, were asked to leave because of "budget decisions," according to Sherwin. No wonder: Legault was being paid $4,000 a month, twice what Sherwin says the current treasurer makes. "They said they couldn't make payroll and they wanted to reduce my salary by half," Legault says. "I said, 'I can't live on that.'" . . .

Tenants queen Judy Nicastro, who ran in 1999 on a platform of renters' rights, has drawn—what else?—a realtor as an opponent in her 2003 race for re-election. Darryl Smith, the Columbia City neighborhood organizer, planning commissioner, and ex- professional actor, says he wants to get residents involved in revitalizing neighborhoods and make homeownership an option for more Seattle residents. "When people have a stake, it really changes the character of the neighborhood," he says. Smith says he disagreed strongly with Nicastro's position on the recently passed housing levy, which she opposed because she felt it included too much money for low-income homeownership programs. "I think [the levy is] one of the few things we've done that can help working families stay in the city," says Smith. "People I talk to are looking to have a stake in Seattle, but they end up in places like Kent and Federal Way." . . .

Mayor Greg Nickels, true to type, has installed one of his own at the city's Office of Housing. Katie Hong, until now the mayor's community and economic development advisor, has been appointed director of the housing office. Hong replaces Cynthia Parker, a Paul Schell appointee who resigned one day after the September passage of the housing levy.

Erica C. Barnett

ebarnett@seattleweekly.com

 
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