During Bill Clinton's final days at the White House, he pushed through a series of controversial pardons. In 2004 Utah Governor Olene Walker took advantage of being forced out in the Republican primary to push the state out of a deadlock over protecting wilderness areas. In California, Arnold Schwarzenegger held the legislature hostage by vetoing most bills until they came to an agreement on water supply problems.
Greg Nickels is done rocking the boat.
Surely a Chicago-style heavy like Greg Nickels has some last minute things he's always wanted to do and could use his last seven weeks in office to force on the voters that kicked him out of office.
Mayoral spokesperson Alex Fryer says outgoing Mayor Greg Nickels isn't attempting to squeeze in any last-minute legislation during his final 7 1/2 weeks in office. He doesn't plan to set Mike McGinn up for any successes or failures. He isn't launching any new initiatives. He doesn't even have much left to do.
"In terms of the policy situation, we are absolutely leaving the new mayor to have a fresh slate," Fryer says.
Fryer says that Nickels' one attempt at proactively helping set up the next administration came to naught. He planned to launch the search for a new police chief (after Gil Kerlikowske became Obama's drug czar) by pulling a committee together to start reviewing candidates. He said he would leave the selection to the next mayor.
McGinn was on board with that idea, but Mallahan wasn't and finally Nickels just dropped the idea altogether. "I think that illustrates exactly what [political situation] we're in," Fryer says. So while that's at the top of the to-do list for McGinn, it isn't taking up any of Nickels' time now.
The biggest thing on Nickels' own to-finish list is the city budget. But there, Fryer says, the city council and the mayor have been pretty much on the same page as to what will be cut, so he's not expecting a fight. Nickels is also watching to see if a grant submitted by the city to get federal stimulus dollars to fund the Mercer Street fix is approved. If that happens before the end of the year, he could be signing off on decisions to start the planning and bidding process.
There are other outstanding issues--Tim Burgess's proposal to tighten constraints on panhandling, the city council's review of the proposed Children's Hospital expansion. But those things aren't on Nickels' radar. "I can go around and ask again," Fryer offers.
In general, Fryer says people in office aren't really focusing on the now. Some have already left for greener, newly-elected pastures, he notes. "It's not the office that it was before the election."
Nickels is still responding to crises like the shooting of Officer Tim Brenton, Fryer adds. But that's about it. As for the soon-to-be-former spokesperson, Fryer notes that he is still getting press calls, like this one, so that's filling his days.