Hempfest Sues the City

Plus: the inheritance tax, the new New York Times guy, and changes at The Seattle Times.

City Hall

Seattle Hempfest sued the city of Seattle and the Seattle Art Museum this week because the city's Parks Department is about four months late in issuing a permit for the annual pro-pot event, and construction of the museum's Olympic Sculpture Park adjacent to Myrtle Edwards Park is the problem. Slated for Aug. 19–20 at Myrtle Edwards, the event attracts 150,000 people—everyone from soccer moms with strollers to hippies doing their drum-circle thing. Amid the dozens of musical acts and speakers, at least a few people have been known to smoke marijuana. That's something Seattle police and the city have been super cooperative with over the event's 15-year history. So what's the problem? The sculpture garden, scheduled to open in October, has made access to the park's south entrance very tight. Hempfest officials, SAM, and the city have been trying to develop a plan for access. Says Vivian McPeak, Hempfest's executive director: "We've been told all along that the permit was coming. We're three weeks out. We cannot wait any longer." The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, asks a judge to order the city to issue a permit. Says Dewey Potter, a parks spokesperson: "We will make this happen." PHILIP DAWDY

State Politics

Former Stranger reporter Sandeep Kaushik, who last year became King County Executive Ron Sims' spokesperson—one of Sims' smartest personnel moves ever—is leaving Columbia Tower to take a temporary post as communications director for the No on I-920 campaign. The initiative seeks to overturn the state's estate tax, which hits rich folks with estates valued at more than $2 million (excluding farm, orchard, and timber lands). The proceeds help fund education. Among the proponents of I-920 is Columbia Tower developer Martin Selig, who is bankrolling the campaign. Inevitably, the Seattle Times editorial board will weigh in, since the federal estate tax is a personal obsession of Publisher Frank Blethen. The "no" campaign is funded by Bill Gates, Bill Gates Sr., and the Washington Education Association. PHILIP DAWDY


Among the reporters crowded into a Friday night, July 28, press conference at SPD's West Precinct—there to hear the mayor and police chief discuss the shootings earlier at the Jewish Federation Center—was a guy who asked the mayor what his name was. "Greg, is it?" inquired the reporter of departing Greg Nickels. The reporter didn't ask Chief Gil Kerlikowske to spell his name. But he did ask the chief for his business card. Where was this guy from, I wondered, the Nome Nugget? Say what, The New York Times? A harried William "Bill" Yardley, the Times' new Seattle correspondent, apologized sincerely to the mayor and chief for not knowing names. But as he explained, "It's my first day in town." RICK ANDERSON

Announced last week by The Seattle Times: Executive Editor Mike Fancher moves upstairs to be editor at large. He retains his senior vice presidency. Says the news release: "In his new role, Fancher will spend more time building a stronger connection with readers and helping guide The Times through an industry in transition." This obviously refers to the Internet. David Boardman moves from managing editor to executive editor in charge of all print and online news and feature content, except for the editorial page. As to who might be managing editor, Boardman says: "We're going to take some time to look at structure and needs for the future before we jump into making any further moves." CHUCK TAYLOR


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