Politics, Strippergate, The City, and Boeing

Politics

There was much murmuring in state political circles last month when enviro lawyer Peter Goldman dumped $250,000 of inherited wealth into a group called Citizens to Protect Our Water and Forests, which aims to get out the bad word on Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland. That's in addition to about $226,000 raised by Democratic state Rep. Mike Cooper's own campaign for the public lands job. (The Goldman group is not connected with the campaign.) Goldman and other enviros are ticked at Sutherland for approving a plan last month that would increase logging on Washington's 5 million acres of public trust land by 30 percent. The usually under-the-radar race has now attracted money from another independent group, called the Committee for Balanced Stewardship. According to Treasurer Peter Schalestock, a longtime GOP activist, the committee wants to spread news of the "balance" Sutherland has struck on public land decisions. The pro-Sutherland group, headed by Randy Pepple, CEO of PR firm Rockey Hill & Knowlton, raked in $307,500 over the past two weeks from contributors like timber giant Weyerhaeuser and cardboard-maker Longview Fibre. The public lands commish not only manages state trust land but regulates logging on privately owned land in the state. The Committee for Balanced Stewardship's money goes into a race in which Sutherland has already raised $415,884 himself. Look for both groups to launch media campaigns, perhaps by the time you read this. PHILIP DAWDY

Phil Talmadge is back, sooner than expected. Last spring, the former state senator and state Supreme Court justice had to end his campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination after learning he had a nonmalignant tumor on his kidney. Doctors have shrunk the tumor without surgery and hope it will resolve itself. Meantime, Talmadge is considering entering next year's race for King County executive. Since County Exec Ron Sims only received 37 percent of the King County vote in September's Democratic gubernatorial primary, Talmadge will probably have plenty of company in challenging Sims. Talmadge thinks King County government should spearhead the efficient delivery of services. For instance, he says, there are too many transportation authorities: the Seattle Monorail Project, Sound Transit (light rail, heavy rail, and express buses), Metro Transit (buses and the waterfront streetcar), and the Regional Transportation Investment District (funding for mega-projects like replacing the Alaskan Way viaduct and the Highway 520 floating bridge). Talmadge wants to combine them and put them under the authority of King County. He's got a ton of interesting ideas, per usual, and promises, if he does run, to line up money and endorsements—the absence of which hampered his gubernatorial run. "It's a fool who doesn't learn from past experience," he says. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Strippergate

Final exposure? Perhaps the last chapter of the 2003 city election scandal is being writ with a full-blown criminal probe launched last week by the King County Prosecutor's Office. The investigative time frame "may be a couple of months," says spokesperson Dan Donohoe. "We made an initial review and decided further investigation is warranted." Is anybody talking yet? "We can't comment on that," Donohoe says. As Seattle Weekly recently reported ("Strippergate Peters Out," Aug. 25), Frank Colacurcio Jr., suspected of bundling campaign contributions to Seattle City Council members while he was seeking a rezoning of a Lake City nude-dance club, was able to walk away from any city civil penalty. City Hall probers said they had nowhere to go after running into a wall of silence from 38 contributors suspected of being backed by Colacurcio. With stronger inquiry powers and the threat of prison time, Prosecutor Norm Maleng can likely determine whether $38,625 in campaign contributions came, illegally, from one source. At least $20,000 of the suspected contributions was traced to just 10 people—Colacurcio and his family and friends. Colacurcio denies wrongdoing, and his attorney, John Wolfe, says the strip-club owner merely encouraged "friends to make contributions to candidates that they support." RICK ANDERSON

The City

Nobody wants to talk much about it, but the Northwest Social Forum has been canceled. The NSF, an ambitious progressive shindig modeled after the Global Social Forums held in Brazil and India, was to take place this weekend, Oct. 15–17. But early this month, organizers pulled the plug after Native American organizers and a youth contingent reportedly pulled out over squabbles regarding the program and process. Without passing judgment on those involved, it seems like yet another case where progressives turned on each other rather than found ways to work together. Sad. GEOV PARRISH

Boeing

The bloodied but still unbowed Boeing aerial-refueling tanker deal began in the White House and now has meandered back, launching a whole new ethics probe into the original $23.5 billion proposal. U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, wrote to President Bush shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, proposing that the government acquire new 767s, which would have helped bail out Boeing's commercial airplane division. Three years later, there are claims of widespread criminal and ethical violations by Boeing and U.S. officials, who sought to grease a leasing deal for more than 100 767s to be built in Everett and outfitted as Air Force refueling tankers in Wichita (see "Plane Pain," April 21). Two weeks ago, former Pentagon official Darleen Druyun got a nine-month sentence for handing the deal to Boeing in return for a cushy Boeing executive job. Surprisingly, she also confessed to providing proprietary pricing data to Boeing in another case and improperly giving the company a $4 billion contract that she said should have gone to Lockheed Martin. Last week, the tanker plan finally crashed in Congress, though legislators and the Pentagon could still approve a new one that is not so embarrassingly tailored for Boeing. That nonetheless leaves at least 10 ongoing government probes into the original deal, including a new investigation: Air Force Secretary James Roche is accused of contacting his former employer, Northrop Grumman, to help a brother of a top White House aide land a job at Northrop; at the same time, Roche was seeking the Bush aide's backing to swing the Boeing deal. Clearly, this in-flight movie is not over. RICK ANDERSON

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