Three Seattle City Council members didn't have a clue that at least $39,000 of their 2003 campaign funds apparently arrived illegally from one source—the Colacurcio nude-dance business. And there's no conclusive evidence that former Gov. Al Rosellini helped steer that money to current council member Jim Compton and now-ex-members Judy Nicastro and Heidi Wills. But the scandal surrounding the contributions, known as Strippergate, was more than just an ethical dustup at City Hall, says King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng. As long suspected by investigators and the media, Frank Colacurcio Sr. and son Frankie allegedly washed a series of donations through the hands of more than a dozen friends and associates and into the council incumbents' coffers, according to Maleng. The father and son, both convicted felons, and two employees, onetime lounge musician Gil Conte and office manager Marsha Furfaro, are now facing felony charges—all because of a tiny Lake City parking lot, the rezone of which had unsuccessfully come before City Hall more than a dozen times in 15 years. There is, Maleng said at a Tuesday, July 12, press conference announcing the charges, "no small case when it comes to ethics in our public institutions." RICK ANDERSON
There might be a single, defining City Council election issue after all. It's no Strippergate, but the mono-derail is sexy enough to persuade ex-journalist and former mayoral aide Casey Corr to pull out of an intended race against monorail critic Richard Conlin and, instead, take on monorail believer Jan Drago, the longest-serving (12 years) member of the council. "As council president, Jan has a duty to lead—to protect the taxpayers' interest and to maintain progress on transportation solutions," says Corr, who says he has doorbelled 3,500 homes. "She failed." The switch this week puts space twixt Corr and former boss Mayor Greg Nickels, who has been mostly a bystander to the monorail's financial train wreck. To Drago's surprisingly modest $115,000 campaign fund from 450 donors, Corr says he's collected $140,000 from 1,000 folks, including current and former journalists from Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and the East Coast. Among them: Bill Prochnau, Evelyn Iritani, John McCoy, Dave Ross, Helen Jung, Jean Godden, Joe Quintana, and Mary Rothschild. RICK ANDERSON
Last week, the King County Police Officers Guild, which represents sheriff's deputies and sergeants, gave its endorsement for this fall's sheriff's race to King County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Jim Fuda instead of current Sheriff Sue Rahr. Rahr was appointed after former Sheriff Dave Reichert was elected to Congress. It wasn't surprising that Fuda won; many in the department are angry with Rahr over her involvement in the case of two KCSO detectives jailed after allegedly roughing up an informant in 2003. Rahr, chief of operations at the time, was seen as ratifying a politically motivated disciplinary decision by Reichert, who was then mulling the run for U.S. House. What is surprising is that Fuda won the endorsement by 90 votes, 259 to 169—a clear sign that even if Rahr wins the election, she has a lot of trust-building to do with KCSO personnel. PHILIP DAWDY
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, meet your first 2006 opponent: Democratic Bellevue trial lawyer Randy Gordon is already working hard to take down the Eastside's 8th District rookie Republican. Gordon is running on a platform of opposition to the war in Iraq, restoring fiscal sanity to federal tax policy, and promoting energy independence. Gordon is a first-time candidate but has a lot of energy, the gift of gab, and a sense of humor. As a successful attorney who defends injured workers and consumers hurt by faulty products, he has good fund-raising potential through the legal community. He faces a very difficult task, however: Reichert is an incumbent member of Congress who is off to a very impressive start. The former sheriff has demonstrated independence and guts as well as an ability to raise money. Still, Reichert is a conservative Republican in a swing district, and this election cycle should favor Democrats. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.
The Seattle Times this week reported on controversy surrounding the Office of African-American Children's Services, a state-run agency in King County which oversees adoptions for African-American and biracial children under state care. In the Times story, a state official claimed that only one family has complained of racial bias by the office against prospective parents who are white. But Tammie Synder, head of an adoption agency under the umbrella of Antioch Bible Church, says she has encountered bias several times while representing couples wanting to adopt: "It's kind of gotten to the point that I don't even consider an African-American child if it's out of that regional office—unless I have an African-American or biracial family wanting to adopt." If there is such a bias, the crucial question is whether children are staying in the system longer while waiting for same-race matches or if they could be placed in unsafe situations with relatives. The office denies bias but has a stated goal of keeping children "within their own community." NINA SHAPIRO