Media, Pike Place Market, and City Council


For those not following daily developments in the legal battle between Hearst Corp., owner of the Seattle Post- Intelligencer, and the Seattle Times Co., locally controlled owner of the bigger Seattle Times:

*It looks like there will be a hearing Sept. 12 on the lawsuit filed by Hearst to block closure of the P-I.

*Hearst says it's going to have to put the paper up for sale, meantime, essentially to prove it's worthless without the joint operating agreement (JOA) with the Times. Of course, no one will be interested. The Times takes care of everything but the P-I's journalism. The smaller paper has no capital assets, except for the P-I globe atop leased office space overlooking Myrtle Edwards Park.

*At the prodding of Seattle Weekly, Hearst and the Times Co. have released transcripts of depositions of top executives. About the only revelation is that Times CEO Frank Blethen understandably declined a Hearst offer last winter to "in effect become our banker," in light of the three years of Times losses that later prompted Blethen to seek to close the allegedly burdensome P-I. The transcripts do not shed light on an unsolved mystery at the Times: why Blethen's Rock of Gibraltar, Mason Sizemore, the widely respected and credible Times Co. president who guided the company through the strike of 2000, very suddenly retired in 2001 after nearly four decades with the paper. CHUCK TAYLOR


A majority of Pike Place Market Constituency voters have approved a charter change that could lead to a new senior center. Or did they? Prior to the July 15 vote to back the use of tax-credit financing to build the new center, the constituencya bloc that includes Market workers, shoppers, and supportersvoted 43-43 on a proposal to reject a vote that day; rabble-rousing former City Council member Charlie Chong, head of the constituency, broke the tie with a "no" vote, thinking he was delaying the center vote until August or September. The Market's ruling body, the Preservation and Development Authority, went ahead with a constituency vote anyway, considering the agenda tabling irrelevant. Some are crying foul. Constituency member Cary Thomas has written Mayor Greg Nickels, who must approve the charter change, that the vote was "sham democracy" and "criminal fraud." The issue was contentious to begin with. Tax-credit financing is what led to a New Yorker takeover of the Market in the 1980s, and many just wanted assurance there would be no repeat (see Buzz, June 15). Dissenters weren't opposed to the center, just the financing, but some were called senior-"haters" anyway. The constituency now wants a new vote, but Marlys Erickson of the Market Foundation says that's not necessary, and she expects the mayor to approve the plan within a week. The mayor can certainly argue there's a mandate for approval. Out of 406 votes cast, 352 favored the plan. RICK ANDERSON


We'd like to read something into the record. At a meeting of his City Council Police, Fire, Courts, and Technology Committee last week, journalist-turned-politician Jim Compton, the former NBC and KING-TV newsman, described an outburst by political activists at the June 4 meeting of his committee as a "near riot." A riot usually involves physical violence and property damage, none of which occurred or even came close to occurring. PHILIP DAWDY

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