City Hall, The Zoo, Science, Politics

City Hall

The Seattle City Council, long content to defer to Mayor Greg Nickels, might be finding a voice. On Friday, Sept. 9, council member Nick Licata had scheduled a briefing for the public safety committee by the city's director of emergency management, Barbara Graff. Licata wanted to hear how Seattle would respond to a Katrina-sized disaster. That morning, however, Nickels' office scrubbed Graff's previously confirmed appearance, saying that she hadn't enough time to prepare. (Presumably she wouldn't need much, but never mind.) Licata and others blew up, alleging that the mayor was trying to prevent a public airing of disaster plans. Pressed by reporters, a Nickels spokesperson said Licata, running for re-election, merely wanted to generate publicity—and that Nickels wouldn't play along. But on Monday, Sept. 12, there sat Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis, Graff, and Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske before the council. Ceis apologized for "miscommunication." Later, he said council members had created a false impression of the dustup. And council-mayoral relations? "We're on the same page," Ceis said. Um, OK. PHILIP DAWDY

The Zoo

On Aug. 29, Woodland Park Zoo transported an aggressive 38-year-old Asian elephant, Bamboo, to Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. In Seattle, Bamboo was swatting her trunk at trainers and terrorizing baby elephant Hansa. But while both zoos and the American Zoo & Aquarium Association agreed that the move would be beneficial to the elephant, animal-rights groups were livid, saying Bamboo should be sent to the Elephant Sanctuary, a 2,700-acre retirement refuge in Hohenwald, Tenn. "Bamboo belongs in a much bigger, healthier space," says Diana Kantor of Northwest Animal Rights Network. Adds Nancy Farnman of the Coalition to Free Bamboo: "There is not enough mental stimulation in zoos—there's nothing to do or look at—and that's what causes the negative behavior." Not so, says Craig Wilcox, the elephant manager at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. "Studies have been conducted which prove that elephants are very adaptable and are just as fine with 1 acre as they are with many." Zoos, he says, make the world more beautiful. "They bring entertainment, they bring understanding, they serve the public." With Bamboo in Tacoma, we'll see. GWEN DAVIS


March of the Penguins is all the rage, and it doesn't matter whether your worldview favors Darwin, Genesis, or intelligent design. In fact, religious conservatives are embracing the penguins' challenging existence, as portrayed in the movie, as archetypal divinity. In an interview with The New York Times, Seattle-based film critic and radio host Michael Medved said the film is "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice, and child rearing." For many, Medved said, "This is the first movie they've enjoyed since The Passion of the Christ. This is The 'Passion of the Penguins.'" For others, "The Passion of Natural Selection" would be truer. Said Laura Kim, of co-distributor Warner Independent, "You know what? They're just birds." CHUCK TAYLOR


Last week, we published the Seattle Weekly Editorial Board's picks for the primary election next Tuesday, Sept. 20. If you missed them, go here.

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