Seattle Public Schools, Seattle City Council, Tacoma


It's not surprising, given their experience in urban public schools, that many of the four finalists for Seattle school superintendent come with baggage. What was surprising about Sunday's announcement of who they are was Seattle School Board President Nancy Waldman's blissful ignorance of their past controversies. The most notable skeleton: Joan Kowal was run out of Hayward, Calif., last year amid allegations of fiscal mismanagement, autocratic style, and nepotism. The state of California is poised to take over Kowal's old district, and the FBI is investigating possible fraud and misappropriation of funds during her tenure. No matter to Waldman, who chirped that the district searched hard for red flags, and the finalists "have all come up clean." GEOV PARRISH


There must be a comedian scheduling votes. If the City Council sticks to its current timetable, the next vote to set law on the zoning changes requested by Rick's, the Lake City strip club, will be Monday, Nov. 3, the day before the city's general election. The timing, according to council spokesperson Martin Munguia, is not a matter of law but of council choice. "They want to deal with it in a timely matter," he deadpans. In other Strippergate news, on Friday, Sept. 26, the city clerk released a full accounting of ex parte communications between council members and people on both sides of that rezoning issue. The document sheds light on why council member Heidi Wills showed up at an April 15 committee meeting that she does not usually attend to vote in favor of the zoning change. Gil Levy, the club's attorney, and former Gov. Albert Rosellini, the club's political ally and Wills' mentor, asked the council member to lunch in early April, providing her with an address in Lake City. It turned out to be Rick's, and the two men gave her a tour. Wills last week reached a settlement with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, agreeing to pay a $1,500 fine for the illegal meeting. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.


We can thank Strippergate for making Seattle's politics semi-interesting this season. But in political theater, we're still Second City to Tacoma. City Council candidate Will Baker was arrested three times in three weeks for refusing to shut up at council meetings. He's such a pain that jailers leave his cell door open, hoping he'll leave. And Doug Schafer, the attorney who got tagged with a six-month disbarment for exposing a corrupt judge, is running forjudge. He's also taking on News Tribune editorial-page editor David Seago, claiming bias against his candidacy because, among other things, Seago's marriage last year was officiated by Schafer's Superior Court opponent, Ron Culpepper, who recently tried, but failed, to have Schafer removed from the ballot for unlawfully seeking office. Seago says the bias claim is nonsense, explaining that Culpepper is a social acquaintance of his new wife, who is divorced from another local judge. "There is no conspiracy here." Seago did recuse himself from the newspaper's editorial board interview of Schafer, but that hardly satisfied the candidate. The paper's policies, Schafer says, contribute to "the passive tolerance of the local culture of corruption." Not to mention entertainment value. RICK ANDERSON

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