City Hall, Fire Department, and Media


Citing state and local law, the city of Seattle guards details of its negotiations with public-employee unions closely, as it is doing in ongoing talks with the Seattle Police Officers Guild. This has caused much grousing among citizens who want to know if the city is negotiating stricter police accountability into the contract. One of the biggest proponents of secrecy is City Council member Jim Compton, an advocate for slightly beefed-up oversight, who on Oct. 8 refused to answer a reporter's questions about the broad themes of the negotiations. So why, during a televised debate on KONG-TV Sunday, Oct. 26, with election opponent John Manning, would Compton reveal what's on the table between the city and the union? Responding to a question from Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner about police accountability, Compton answered, referring to the talks: "There are a number of issues on the table which include performance reviews, they include mediation with police officers, they include face-to-face interviews, which we got in the last round, they include the redaction, the releasing of unredacted files. And on all of those we are pushing very hard. And I think inevitably the unredacted file issue is going to emerge." The police union says that was inappropriately revealing, but it's choosing its words carefully. Says the usually voluble Police Guild President Ken Saucier: "We're going to stick to the original agreement and not discuss topics of bargaining." For his part, Compton says, "I would defend myself by saying I spoke in sufficient generalities." Meanwhile, Compton announced late Tuesday, Oct. 28, that he would hold a public hearing on police accountability on Nov. 18. PHILIP DAWDY


There appears to be no opposition to Seattle Proposition No. 1, the $167 million levy to replace or renovate fire stations, buy two new fire boats, and build a new training facility, among other things. But there likely are lots of taxpayers who dislike the sudden, enormous costs of such public projects and wonder how the city allowed its emergency facilities to deteriorate all at the same time. (Thirty-two of the 33 station houses will be renovated or replaced if the levy passes next Tuesday, Nov. 4.) As Mayor Greg Nickels notes, emergency calls to SFD increased by 900 percent in the past 30 years, yet not one new fire station was built in that time. Who let critical facilities rot to a point that voters must now approve massive funding or risk their own safety? The levy will probably pass. But let the record show the true cost is $14.9 million more than advertised. That's how much the city paid for land on Myers Way South for the new training facility, a deal made in July. The 51-acre site, owned by Nintendo, was purchased with taxpayer money from the city's consolidated cash poolwith the presumption the levy would pass. RICK ANDERSON


Eight public-radio affiliates say they will launch the Northwest Public Affairs Network, pooling resources to cover news. Based in Seattle, NPAN will expand an existing Olympia bureau and open new ones in Richland and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Participating are KUOW-FM in Seattle (94.9); KPLU-FM in Tacoma (88.5); Northwest Public Radio, based in Pullman and serving Eastern Washington; Spokane Public Radio; Oregon Public Broadcasting; Boise State Radio; KLCC-FM in Eugene; and Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Ore. CHUCK TAYLOR

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