Police, Education, Monorail, Politics

Police

Uniformed Seattle cops working for clubs? Huh? The Seattle Times reported Sunday, Nov. 21, that as many as 10 officers had been subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury–like investigation into off-duty cops working security at nightclubs and allegedly overlooking crime. As in any city, cops land extra money doing everything from traffic control at construction sites to security at sporting events. What confuses some is that they wear their uniforms while doing that off-duty work. Misleading? No, according to SPD. A cop is a sworn officer who is expected to enforce the law, on duty or off. So the uniform shows the public that the officer is "on duty"—even when he or she isn't on the public dime. Cops are not supposed to work inside establishments where alcohol sales are the main business, says Sean Whitcomb, an SPD spokesperson. Nor are they supposed to work the door. Nor are they supposed to overlook criminal activity. SPD is reviewing off-duty policies, says Whitcomb. The practice is complex. Says David Osgood, a lawyer who represents clubs: "It's a weird system" that "is ripe for problems." PHILIP DAWDY

Education

State Rep. Bill Fromhold, D-Vancouver, the assistant Democratic whip, expects the Washington Education Association to sue the state before the 2005 legislative session. The lawsuit's target, explains Fromhold, will likely be failure to adequately fund K–12 education—an obligation termed "paramount" in the state constitution. WEA spokesperson Rich Wood confirms membership did authorize an exploration of possible litigation. "We have attorneys and other folks who are looking at the issue," says Wood. Lawsuit or not, House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, says education funding will be one of his priorities. Despite voter rejection of a proposal to increase the sales tax for schools, Chopp thinks momentum is building to find more money. "Just because the first proposal failed doesn't mean we don't come back with another," says Chopp. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Monorail

Elapsed time, as of Wednesday, Nov. 24, during which the transparency-challenged, executive- session-obsessed Seattle Monorail Project has kept secret the sole bid by Cascadia Monorail to build the $1.6 billion project: 100 days.

Politics

Let the record forever show that Republican challenger Will Baker attracted 840,000 votes in the November election, though it was only half the vote tally of Democratic winner and incumbent State Auditor Brain Sonntag. Combined with Baker's 410,000 in the primary, that's more than a million votes cast for the "International Man of Diplomacy," who ran a nonexistent statewide campaign without money or supporters—including his own party. State GOP Chair Chris Vance put Baker, a flower peddler, on the ballot at the last minute, unaware he was a perennial candidate who'd been arrested 19 times (see "This Will Has a Way," Oct. 27). Baker is from Tacoma, as was another successful political gadfly, jazzman Red Kelly, creator of the Owl Party, whose slate back in 1976 included a woman who drew 40,000 votes by opposing postnasal drip and the heartbreak of psoriasis. Baker wasn't as witty—when jailed for misconduct at council meetings, guards would leave the cell door unlocked, hoping he'd leave. But 1,250,000 votes? That's funny! RICK ANDERSON

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