Sidran's little helpers

As The Seattle Times struggles through its post-strike malaise, it's comforting to know that the state's largest newspaper still loves to campaign on its editorial page.

It took the Times editorial board just two days to reiterate its mayoral endorsement of City Attorney Mark Sidran—turns out he's still tough, decisive, and one funny guy. Generally, it takes longer than a couple of days to lose those attributes, but we appreciate the update.

Then Mindy Cameron weighed in. She's the former Times editorial page editor who retired to Idaho, yet got tabbed as Sunday columnist because the page's other writers disloyally joined their fellow union members on the picket line. (Her replacement as editorial page editor, Jim Vesely, is the lone journalist on the post-strike editorial board—balancing three members of the ruling Blethen dynasty and the paper's business manager.) Cameron likes Sidran because we need a tough mayor in these post- World Trade Center times.

Despite the appealing image of Sidran as a King Kong- like figure astride the Space Needle, batting away approaching jetliners, I'm not sure terrorist threats rate as the biggest issue in local politics. Nor does the prospect of tighter city budgets—Seattle's charter requires that the mayor propose a balanced budget, so there's no need for a "tough guy" to do the job. (Nickels might at least seem regretful as he's slashing your funding.)

And, as for Sidran's so-called ability to cut through the Seattle process and make tough choices, has anyone else noticed that his entire platform is a promise to set aside the Sound Transit board's tough choice to move forward on light rail and commence four more years of transit studies?

But Nickels bears some of the blame for this idiocy. When your campaign is built around the fact that you're a pleasant fellow, your opponent's one- issue campaign can't help but sound substantial. The longtime King County Council member needs to bring his superior knowledge of local government to the fore. If this campaign is just about who can buy more television advertising, Sidran's personal fortune—and the daily newspapers' slavish devotion to him—could be the only factors that matter.

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