Ed Murray Starts Over

Also: Dinesh D'Souza is coming to town after all, and the tent-city threat stands.

State Politics

Why is 43rd District state Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, departing the House to run against Democratic incumbent state Sen. Pat Thibaudeau? Murray made it official on Saturday, April 1. But he's at the top of his game in the House. Last year, he led the passage of the $8.5 billion transportation package; this year, after a decade of effort, his bill to guarantee basic civil rights for gays and lesbians finally passed. If Murray moves to the Senate, he will lose his ability to accomplish big things. He'll have to work his way up through that chamber's seniority system. While he cites high-minded reasons for the change—education, transit, and civil rights issues have bogged down in the Senate recently—it seems like the biggest reason is to escape the very powerful speaker of the state House, Frank Chopp, D-Seattle. For years, Chopp and Murray, who represent the same district, have clashed over policy and personality. The more-populist Chopp favors voter referenda on transportation policy and is lukewarm about funding megaprojects. A classic Seattle liberal, Murray prefers to exercise legislative authority and believes we must invest billions in transportation now. In addition, they both are brilliant, headstrong, and a little paranoid. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Education

Dinesh D'Souza will be speaking in Seattle after all. The conservative author, whose appearance at Bill Gates' alma mater, the Lakeside School, was canceled earlier this year, will be at Seattle University's Pigott Auditorium on Monday, May 1. The spiking of D'Souza's Lakeside lecture rocked the elite prep school and gave rise to charges of political correctness run amok. One of those upset at the brouhaha is the organizer of the Seattle U event, Nancy Burgoyne, an adjunct professor of political science at the university and a former Lakeside parent who calls the school "intellectually narrow and intolerant." The topic of the talk? "Authentic vs. Bogus Diversity in Education." KNUTE BERGER

Homelessness

The tiff between the city of Seattle and homeless-shelter provider SHARE/WHEEL is alive and well (see "Tent City Showdown," March 22), despite talk of a possible compromise. The group had refused to participate in new data collection required by the feds, and the city had said it would have to cut off funding for 250 indoor beds. SHARE/WHEEL, which also operates the area's two roving tent cities for homeless people, said it would respond to the funding cut by setting up three more encampments in Seattle parks. The city extended the group's funding by a month, through April, and last week City Council President Nick Licata proposed a compromise that SHARE/WHEEL could agree to: less frequent data collection and help from the city with data entry. But the office of Mayor Greg Nickels refused—especially after SHARE/WHEEL lost important church-community support last week. The Interfaith Committee on Homelessness, which had sided with SHARE/WHEEL, had a look at the data collection process and became satisfied that personal privacy wasn't going to be breached. So there's no compromise, and SHARE/WHEEL seems to be alone in its intransigence— renewing the threat to create more tent cities at month's end, when the money runs out. Now the Very Rev. Robert Taylor, dean of the Episcopal St. Mark's Cathedral, is trying to get the two sides to find a solution. SHARE/WHEEL and the city have agreed to talk. Says Bill Block, King County's point man on a 10-year plan to end homelessness: "I am optimistic. There have got to be ways both sides can be accommodated." As Licata put it in a recent e-mail, "2006 is the city's first year of implementation of the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness; I don't believe that this is the way to begin." PHILIP DAWDY

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