Election 2005, City Hall, Seattle Public Schools, the Bird Flu

Election 2005

Seattle Ethics and Elections Commissioner Michele Radosevich sees the irony. Usually, Radosevich is sitting in judgment of whether political campaigns in Seattle are following election law. Last week, however, Radosevich was on the receiving end of campaign enforcement as the state Public Disclosure Commission, the elections watchdog, fined Citizens for a Healthy Economy $1,000 for campaign violations. Radosevich, who is an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine, is the assistant treasurer for Citizens for a Healthy Economy, a pro-business PAC active in races for the Port of Seattle. Radosevich says that since the Port is not within the city's jurisdiction, she can participate in its campaigns. The problems came when she had difficulty with electronic reports required by the state, which resulted in late and incomplete filings by the group. "My friends certainly have been ribbing me," she says. "I am very sorry." GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

City Hall

The Seattle City Council's Oct. 24 KeyArena resolution, undercutting a secretive campaign by the Seattle SuperSonics and Seattle Center, falls short on only one point: The arena plan is not, as the council and other media refer to it, a redevelopment, a renovation, or a remodel. Starbucks CEO and Sonics owner Howard Schultz and his reps have been quietly lobbying for a whole new arena to be built by taxpayers and then handed to the Sonics. The commendable City Hall resolution offered by council members Nick Licata and David Della—and backed even by Mayor Greg Nickels—effectively throws sunlight on the team's and Seattle Center's backroom lobbying effort. It orders up "a public review" of any funding or appeals to the Legislature. But that review shouldn't lose sight of what's at stake. As Seattle Weekly has reported (see "The Keys to KeyArena," March 29), the Sonics' dream is a $205 million new arena built on the current site. The team would control the facility as master tenant, "owning" it, as Paul Allen owns Qwest Field—banking all fees from rentals, concessions, tickets, parking, and naming rights. The only redeveloping being done here is an augmentation of the public teat for corporate moguls. RICK ANDERSON

Seattle Public Schools

As the election closes in, south-end School Board candidate Cheryl Chow is positioning herself as an advocate for school choice—this as a new group of political and business leaders, called Strong Seattle Schools, has thrown its support to her opponent. When the former City Council member got in the race, she said she would consider restricting choice to ameliorate the district's budget crisis, by saving money on transportation. Now Chow stresses the inequitable distribution of K–8 and other programs throughout the city, which would hamper a neighborhood school system. Whether she'd stick to that stance if elected is unclear, however: "I am for choice until plans are put out there with a little more concrete details." Meanwhile, opponent Linda Thompson-Black has been expressing newfound animosity to the notion of closing schools to save money, which she calls "a last resort." Yet, Thompson-Black says, "At the end of the day, it may be required to balance the budget." NINA SHAPIRO

The Bird Flu

While President Bush plans to bury avian flu under a pile of $7 billion, the menace came knocking at our northern door. Tuesday, Nov. 1, the Associated Press reported that 18 wild birds harboring the H5 strain of avian flu had been discovered in British Columbia. There's more than one strain of avian flu—H5N1 is the version responsible for more than 60 human deaths in Southeast Asia—but any H5 strain is potentially fatal to domestic birds that contract it. Although we're generally not aware of it, those "Washington-grown" fryers you see advertised everywhere are a major agricultural resource in this state, worth almost $100 million wholesale in 2004, up more than 30 percent from a year before. Almost all these chickens are "battery-raised," crowded together in sheds, where disease can spread like a grass fire. And almost all the farms that raise them are concentrated along the Interstate 5 corridor from the Canadian border down through Lewis, Clark, and Cowlitz counties. ROGER DOWNEY

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