The Homeland, the Law, and the Arts.

The Homeland

On Sunday, April 10, 60 Minutes on CBS broadcast a report called "Handouts for the Homeland," which chronicled some of the pork to be found in $10 billion of federal appropriations for security improvements. A lot of it involves local police and fire agencies buying cool gadgets, like our own Mason County's purchase of a $63,000 decontamination unit that no one is trained to use. Federal chump change, sure, but waste nonetheless. You know, $63,000 here, $63,000 there. Pretty soon . . . Meanwhile, Seattle has spent $85.5 million on homeland security activity since 9/11, according to a city auditor's study, much of it representing federally mandated measures that, you guessed it, the federal government won't fund. Seattle taxpayers and ratepayers have covered $45.5 million of that, or 53 percent, the study showed, and the balance came from grants. In Wonkville, this is known as an unfunded federal mandate. Municipalities and states nationwide are facing this, and this week they take it to Capitol Hill. Among those testifying before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs will be Seattle City Council member Nick Licata, who requested the auditor's study of Seattle's security costs. CHUCK TAYLOR

The Law

"Dear Friend," state Supreme Court Justice and sometimes-bad-boy Richard Sanders wrote his supporters last week. "Today the Commission on Judicial Conduct announced its decision in my case," referring to his 2003 visit to the McNeil Island Sexual Offender Center, where Sanders mingled and spoke with inmates, allegedly violating canons of conduct. "The vote was 7-4 to admonish me, not for ex parte [without the other side present] contact (what I thought this was all about) but because I failed to 'uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary' and engaged in activities with the 'appearance of impropriety.' I am aware of no reported ethics decision, anywhere, anytime, which has sanctioned a judge under these canons without a finding of some specific violation of another code provision, e.g. improper ex parte contact. Standing alone, these rules may be unconstitutionally vague." Sanders, the high court's leading dissenter, said he was "deeply troubled by the injustice of this assault on my professional reputation for what I think is no good reason." Thus, the two-term justice, who beat an earlier misconduct rap (see "Sanders Meanders," Sept. 1, 2004), will appeal even this slap on the wrist. "And like the last time, I expect to win." Sanders says he's paid $53,000 in attorney fees so far. "Soon my entire net income from my judicial position for a year will be eaten up. For nothing. No wonder successful lawyers often turn down judicial positions." RICK ANDERSON

The Arts

Call it Extreme Makeover: Museum Edition: It has new galleries, a new curator, and a new mission. Even the name is new: Bellevue Arts Museum, with the emphasis on arts (as in, "and crafts") as opposed to art (the snooty kind, presumably). You'll recall that BAM closed in the fall of 2003 because of rocky finances and low attendance; trustees then undertook a $3 million fund-raising drive to keep it in business. They're still a half a million short but say they're ready to unveil BAM's new, more populist 'do on June 18. Stay tuned, though—the reopening has been delayed twice. LYNN JACOBSON

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow