There are those in our civic whirl who would prefer to keep Seattle a veritable pre-Kevin Bacon Footloose and poop all over our parties. Chief among them, of course, is City Council member MARGARET PAGELER, the token social conservative who is up for re-election on Nov. 4. Her prime sin against fun was her obsessive defense of the infamous Teen Dance Ordinance, which the City Council passed in 1985 to address what many in town saw as an out-of-control all-ages music scene. The ordinance required a $1 million insurance policy for a promoter to put on an all-ages show, and that essentially killed such events in Seattle. Pageler took office in 1992 and fought off efforts to dump or soften the ordinance. But she finally lost the fight last year to a coalition of promoters, teens, cranky journalists, and City Council colleagues.
She's at it again, though. Pageler wants strippers to stay at least four feet from club patrons. That would be the end of lap dances for the frustrated in Seattle, and it would cut into the earnings of strippers. That a council member can get cranked up about some innocuous bumping and grinding says something about the city's character.
That's not the only threat against fun these days. In his proposed budget for next year, MAYOR GREG NICKELS is cutting $5,000 from the city-sponsored VERA Project. VERA is a two-year-old downtown venue designed to give teens a place for art and music. Modeled on the Dutch organization of the same name, it serves 12,000 people a year. The city gave the VERA Project $50,000 in 2002, $25,000 in 2003, and proposes $20,000 for 2004. James Keblas, executive director of the VERA Project, says he understands that times are tough, but the project already had to let one staffer go, and he wonders what's next. "It's like they left us to die, not killed us," he says.
And then there's Seattle's new noise ordinance. Put into effect earlier this month and clearly aimed at parties, it limits how much noise may be heard from residences after 10 p.m. Violators can be hit with a $250 fine for a single violation. We'll see how that one works out.