With The Seattle Times poised to launch youth-oriented Next, a weekly opinion page, the rival Seattle Post-Intelligencer quietly unveiled a new editorial page of its own last weekend. Saturday Spin isn't pining for the 17-to-25 crowd, as the Times page will, though P-I editorial page editor Joann Byrd does wonder: "Can we lighten up just the right amount?" Maybe. The debut featured the first of what are billed as the "burning questions" of cartoonist David Horsey, who asked parents if they would send their sons and daughters to fight in Iraq (the response was predictably mixed); a column by KUOW-FM humorist and Rewind host Bill Radke, who wrote that up-skirt photographers should be sentenced to Google hell (he named renowned local defendant Richard Sorrells six times, in all capital letters); and a cartoon by Ted Rall, whose work Byrd called "edgy" (but, if we may say so, pales in comparison to This Modern World by Tom Tomorrow, which you will find if you turn this page).
First City Light, now the housing office. The city's Office of Housing, 20 percent lighter after the recent round of budget cuts, is undergoing an audit pushed by City Council members Peter Steinbrueck and Richard McIver. The issue: Is the housing office top-heavy, and could it stand more pruning? Auditor Wendy Soo Hoo says the city auditor's office is "looking at the ratio of managers to staff" to determine whether there are managers with no one to manage. According to McIver, his "suspicion" is that "we have some people that may be in supervisory positions that are not supervising enough people." Recent layoffs reduced the number of positions at the office from 57 to 43, with some of those slots remaining vacant. In some cases, managers have been kept on while the people they're supposed to manage have quit, been laid off, or taken early retirement—leaving some division directors standing watch over just two or three positions. In the Community Development program, one manager, Rick Hooper, will oversee a single subordinate starting in 2003. (Two other vacant positions in the office will stay frozen until the audit is complete.) Bill Rumpf, deputy director of the housing office, argues that not only does the office have plenty of work to do, further cuts could jeopardize its ability to administer the housing levy, which provides most of its funding. "We have a ton of work implementing the levy," Rumpf says. "Very few departments have had as many reductions as we have.
Negotiations between attorneys representing tenants at the Rainier Vista housing project and the Seattle Housing Authority were in their fifth day Monday as they discussed a possible settlement. The Seattle Displacement Coalition and others are concerned that the redevelopment of Rainier Vista would result in fewer housing units for very low- income tenants, and earlier in December they sued and won a temporary injunction prohibiting SHA from tearing down the South Seattle property. One possible outcome: SHA could agree to freeze rents in its Seattle Senior Housing Program, a rental program for low-income seniors, until the city and SHA can come up with another solution.
Erica C. Barnett, with Chuck Taylor