City Hall, transportation, and Federal Budget


This holiday season, dancers, waitresses, DJs, and doormen at Rick's nightclub in Lake City are busy opposing Seattle City Council member Margaret Pageler's proposal to kill lap dances by putting four feet between customers and entertainers in strip clubs throughout the city. To date, Rick's employees and their allies have written 84 personal letters that have been copied and mailed to all nine council members. About half are typed, the rest are handwritten including some from correspondents who dot their i's with hearts and use stationery with pictures of snowmen or roses. The letters follow a formula but are affecting nonetheless: tales from single mothers trying to better their lives by working part time while going to school; women supporting their disabled children or spouses. One mother is paying her child's tuition at a private Christian elementary school. Another included her wedding pictures. The lobbying effort shows that the owners of Rick's, the Colacurcio family, don't plan to keep quiet just because of the Strippergate brouhaha of this past summer. Pageler originally proposed the four-foot rule during a heated re-election campaign that she lost last month. City Council members say the proposal will probably die after Pageler leaves office later this month. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.


Thanks to the persistence of David Groh, aka Cab Elvis, taxi drivers can dress as Elvis or anyone else famousreal or fictional. The Seattle City Council on Monday, Dec. 8, approved a change to the Municipal Code allowing costumed cabbies as long as they seek written permission from their association. Drivers please note: no full or partial masks; the costume cannot depict a cop or firefighter; the cab company must provide the city a description of the costume and a photograph of the driver wearing the costume. CHUCK TAYLOR


'Tis the season of waste in Congress, with assorted pork-laden bills trying to beat the Christmas rush. The D.C. watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste has compiled a long list of spending measures for Washington state, all part of a notorious U.S. omnibus funding bill that included 7,651 pork projects totaling $11.5 billion. The new fiscal 2004 omnibus version is expected to top that. Some of the 2003 state projects don't sound exactly profligate$150,000 for a child- development center in Yakima, for example. But here's a few that caught our eye: $150,000 for perennial wheat; $125,000 for an Interstate 90 truck wind warning system; $180,000 for the Institute of Rural Innovation and Stewardship; $200,000 to identify and characterize exotic plant diseases; and $330,000 for jointed goat grass research. Citizens Against Government Waste also lists millions in questionable transportation projects, most of them pushed through by Sen. Patty Murray. She's the state's top porker, following in the footsteps of a legendary predecessor, Sen. Warren Magnuson, who liked to say, "So what do they want me to do, send the money to New Jersey?" RICK ANDERSON

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