On Thursday, Sept. 1, King County Council member David Irons, R-Sammamish, unveiled his secret weapon to fix the county's troubled elections department: retired Elections Director Bob Bruce. Irons, who is running for King County executive, says Bruce can restore trust and integrity to an office that has been continuously embroiled in controversy for the past three years. There's a little problem, however. While Bruce retired in January 2002 before the latest plague of problems descended on the elections office, he hired the people who have been at the center of two of the controversies. First, Bruce hired former Elections Superintendent Julie Anne Kempf, who was subsequently fired for allegedly lying about problems with the 2002 elections. And Bruce hired Nicole Way, who is at the center of the disputed gubernatorial election results of 2004 and who has been targeted for termination. Last week, as the genial Bruce defended both Kempf and Way, he hardly sounded like the man to end the controversies surrounding the department. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.
With the loss of Executive Director Joel Horn and board Chair Tom Weeks, and with the planned resignation of acting board Chair Kristina Hill and finance chair Sue Secker, and with the collapse of its what-were-they-thinking billion-dollar-a-mile financing plan, the Seattle Monorail Project seems in full retreat. Yet there is a method within that madness that some think will save the planned 13.7-mile Green Line: amputation of the Seattle Center/Fifth Avenue route. Elimination of that costly and unnecessary swing, says one board member privately, not only avoids destruction of the Center grounds and a need to raze the current World's Fair–era monorail on Fifth Avenue, it could save several hundred million dollars in design, construction, and operation costs and knock billions off financing charges. Rerouting of the monorail—along Elliott Avenue, then alongside the Center on Denny Way before heading down Second Avenue—comes with another plus: Since the Center swing was added after the election, voters wouldn't have to approve it. The notion is among several being weighed by a peer review group and new interim Executive Director John Haley, but this one might offer the most savings. Coupled with a redesign, it could produce a shorter, sleeker, and leaner ride in the sky–possibly the monorail everyone wanted in the first place. RICK ANDERSON
Don't count Jeanne Dixon out. Dixon, who is running for mayor of Seattle, is not conducting a conventional campaign. She did not submit a candidate statement or photograph for the King County voters pamphlet. She has reported no campaign donations and doesn't have a listed phone number. Yet Dixon possesses that most valuable political asset: a familiar name. Dixon's moniker is nearly identical to that of the deceased psychic Jeane Dixon, who earned worldwide fame by predicting the death of President John F. Kennedy. When voters are choosing among the seven candidates for Seattle mayor, none of the names besides incumbent Greg Nickels will be very familiar, so Dixon might squeak through the primary. In fact, someone named Jeanne Dixon won the Democratic primary for secretary of state in 1992, despite not actively campaigning or raising money. Nickels would likely be delighted if Dixon became his general election opponent because he has already been refusing head-to-head debates with his primary opponents, and so far she's invisible. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.