"It will never, ever again happen," King County Executive Ron Sims said of election snafus. Unfortunately, he said that in 2003, after technical glitches and human errors led to delays and uncounted ballots in 2002. Here we are again. The outcome of the gubernatorial election teeters on hundreds of votes lost and then found in King County's still-flawed counting process. If the supposedly improved system functions this poorly, how bad was it earlier? Is Sims really executive? Was Greg Nickels actually elected mayor? Are Judy Nicastro and Heidi Wills still Seattle City Council members? The new monorail was approved in 2002 by just 877 of 189,000 votes—or was it? In the primaries, especially, margins are often narrow. In their 17th District Democratic race this year, for example, Pat Campbell nudged Ilene Ferrell by a mere 88 votes. Or so tabulators say. The thin margin separating mansion hopefuls Christine Gregoire and Dino Rossi has exposed us to the sausage-making reality of vote inexactitude, layered with the hypocrisy of both candidates (every vote counts unless it was cast for the other candidate) and the rhetoric of state party officials: top Democratic hack Paul Berendt ("Dino Rossi is a thief") and GOP gasbag Chris Vance (the Dems are either "colossally incompetent or totally corrupt"). Why don't they both sit down and shut up? As it is, voters will forever wonder who really was elected. Maybe we're better off with the position vacant. No one has earned it, and we could use the savings to pay for election reform that puts deserving candidates in office. Can that be retroactive? RICK ANDERSON
If you work at The Seattle Times, stop hiring, cancel routine travel, forget the software upgrade, halt the TV advertising, ratchet back philanthropy, stop taking sources out to lunch, kiss your 401(k) match goodbye, and brace for possible unemployment. President Carolyn Kelly e-mailed employees on Monday, Dec. 20, to round up the bad news everyone knew was coming in light of a $12 million loss this year: a layoff announcement in February and dozens of other cuts, including space for news. "I wish I could say making these painful cuts will get us to where we need to be," Kelly wrote. "It won't. There are more cuts to come. Sadly, they will inevitably involve staff reductions. . . . No one group, department or level is being targeted or is exempt from consideration." If true, there are half a dozen or so highly paid midlevel news managers, whose combined salaries and benefits likely approach $1 million, who could be cut loose without readers noticing, staffers say. These are people whose roles, according to folks who actually put out the paper, are either unclear or hindrances. But they are once-valuable long-timers considered part of the family, so they won't be laid off. Instead, expect to see people making the least and working the hardest let go.
The Washington Post has confirmed that it is buying Slate, the Redmond-based pioneering online magazine founded by Michael Kinsley, from Microsoft. No content changes are planned, but there are a lot of locals who won't be making the transition. Publisher Cyrus Krohn, for one, will stay at Microsoft, joining MSN Video. CHUCK TAYLOR