City Hall, the Port of Seattle, and Media

Media When it comes to encouraging those privileged-but-disaffected kids on Capitol Hill to join the political process, no one's more vocal than the Hill's community newspaper, The Stranger. "Vote you whiners, VOTE on Tuesday," wrote the paper's editorial board in its endorsement edition Sept. 3. "All you have to do is VOTE, dammit!" But the actual behavior of the two guys who run The Stranger is likely to remind those Hill kids very much of their old, Boomer parents: "Do as I say, not as I do." Stranger editor Dan Savage did not bother to vote last week. Stranger publisher Tim Keck, who has lived here for more than a decade and plays a key role in the paper's endorsements, is not even registered, at least not in King, Pierce, Snohomish, or Kitsap counties. This was not the first time Savage took a pass. King County records show that in 2000, when Savage was loudly advancing his political beliefs by licking doorknobs (supposedly) and lying his way into the Iowa caucuses, he never cast his legal vote in Washington's own presidential primary (Gore vs. Bradley, McCain vs. Bush). He also didn't vote in the regular primary that year to determine, among other things, whether Maria Cantwell or Deborah Senn would run against Slade Gorton for U.S. Senate. Savage was a no-show for the 2001 general election, too, when the Stranger cover read: "VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!" That ballot included two statewide initiatives endorsed by his paper: to provide health insurance for the poor and to raise the pay for home health care workers. Savage skipped last year's September primary as well. Asked via e-mail about the gaps in his voting record, Savage replied, "Thats odd," and suggested that the fault lay with King County's bookkeeping. In a subsequent e-mail, he wrote, "OK, here's the real story," and claimed his attorneys had advised him not to vote in 2000 because he was being investigated in Iowa for voter fraud. (He eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.) As for the other elections, said Savage: "I don't drag myself to the polls on Vashon Island when there's nothing to vote on." Participating in the electoral process couldnt be easier for Savage, who has signed up to vote by mail-in absentee ballot. He's registered at his Vashon Island address, which means he can't vote in Seattle City Council races or initiatives. But he seems to have disregarded his own paper's insistence on the importance of, for example, this year's race for Port of Seattle commissioner ("like, why should you give a shit? [The Port] has taxing authority, it controls our waterfront, and if terrorists ever attack Seattle it'll be through the Port of Seattle ...") The Stranger's endorsed Port candidate, Alec Fisken, survived the primary by only a single percentage point--no thanks to Dan. Savage also sat out the King County Council race, disregarding his paper's own recommendation that readers "go ahead and cast your vote for excellent [and unopposed] King County Council Dem Dow Constantine." Keck was out of town this week and did not respond to a request for comment. MARK D. FEFERCity Hall Seattle Districts Now wants to change the way we elect City Council members, from the current citywide at-large system to one in which the nine are elected to represent neighborhoods. Until recently, the group had no money and few signatures. Then came Strippergate, council member Jim Comptons Vulcan jet ride, and a primary that gave incumbents the lowest numbers in 40 years. Last week, district elections limped onto the November ballot when a judge declared that officials had been disqualifying signatures unfairly. Given the voters sour mood, it has a good chance of winning. And if it wins, City Council members can no longer lay claim to a constituency of the whole city. Mayor Greg Nickels would be the sole owner of that bully pulpit. And all nine members would face election in new neighborhood districts in 2005quite a distraction as they scramble to grab a district and campaign to win it. GEORGE HOWLAND JR. Port of Seattle A funny thing happened on his way to the primary: Port of Seattle Commissioner Clare Nordquist never left town. At least, the Eastside businessman didnt charge taxpayers for a trip this year. In 2001, Nordquist took five trips at a cost of $19,000. In 2002, he took four trips for $20,000, according to newly released figures. Nordquist has racked up more than $100,000 in travel since his 1998 appointment. Now he faces a November re-election showdown with challenger Alec Fisken, and Nordquist has gone cold turkey since last Octoberalthough 2002 was a good year. His jaunts included a $6,000 trip to Southeast Asia and an $8,600 trip to Barcelona. Fellow commissioner Bob Edwards, also up for re-election, spent $11,800 in 200203 on 11 trips, the most expensive a $3,500 jaunt to Shanghai. The highest flier was chair Pat Davis$24,000 on seven trips in two years. She, like Paige Miller ($14,000 on six trips), isnt up for re-election. Neither is Lawrence Molloy. So how do you explain his four trips totaling a mere $1,600? He acts like its our money. RICK ANDERSON

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