City Hall, Labor, and City Light


Seattle City Council member Jan Drago, a 10-year council veteran and its savvy budget chair, is poised to become the next City Council president. The only other candidate is the council’s self-described “independent outsider,” Nick Licata, who concedes that Drago will likely win the title. Drago wants to mold the council into a tighter, more disciplined body that has a strong agenda. She believes that will not only help improve the council’s performanceand therefore its standing with the general publicbut help relations with Mayor Greg Nickels as well. Drago thinks maverick members who don’t respect their colleagues are hurting the City Council. She passionately deplores “people who go out on their own before they vet their ideas with their colleagues. People that leak before they talk to their colleagues or leak their colleagues’ information. It’s a real problem.” Read full article. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.


A majority of Seattle Teamsters Local 174 voters have sent their union a message. But what is it? In a contentious election monitored by the U.S. Department of Justice, the truck drivers have just tossed out incumbent Secretary- Treasurer Scott Sullivan and installed reformer Dan Scott, a UPS package driver. The 1,591 to 1,420 mail-in vote tallied last week puts the largest trucking Teamsters local in the Northwest back in the hands of a slate of democratic unionists backed by former secretary-treasurer Bob Hasegawa, whom Sullivan narrowly defeated in 2000, sparking claims of vote fraud and resulting in a legal challenge by the Labor Department (see “Reform or Conform,” Oct. 22). In a statement, Scott said his election “shows that the membership understands what democratic unionism is all about.” Still, he won by just 171 votes in a local with more than 6,500 members. Not exactly a mandate, but he’ll take it. RICK ANDERSON


Now that attorney David Jurca has slain one cash cow, he’s looking for others. Last week, the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of plaintiffs of Jurca’s law firm and said it is illegal for Seattle to shift $6 million in annual costs for streetlights from the general fund to City Light. The streetlights, Jurca argued, are a general benefit for the taxpayers, not a specific benefit for City Light ratepayers. Jurca’s attention is now turning to the Community Development Fund for the Rainier Valley, which is funded by the city to offset the impact of Sound Transit‘s light-rail system. Under the agreement, according to Jurca, Sound Transit is paying $17 million for City Light to put utility lines underground on light rail’s route on Martin Luther King Jr. Way South. That money, however, is not going to City Light. It is being diverted to help Rainier Valley’s businesses. Marianne Bichsel, spokesperson for Mayor Greg Nickels, says the city is confident what it’s doing is legal. “Watch this space,” says Jurca. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.