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Monday, January 23, 2006

Re: It’s Nick!

Posted by on January 23 at 15:05 PM

I’m thrilled that Nick Licata is going to be council president. (I wish Amy Jenniges were still around for this. I can hear her now: “Yes!”.)

From repealing the TDO, to fighting Sidran’s impound ordinance, to working to keep city hall accessible, Licata has been the Stranger’s favorite council member since he was first elected in ‘97.

Certainly, we disagree with Licata on some specifics (his pseudo populist Viaduct jag and his knee-jerk impulse to side with reactionary utopianists on “neighborhood” issues are slightly annoying.) But our most substantive gripe has always been that he never seemed able to rustle up the votes to make good on his leftist agenda.

But, damn, Licata emerged today with the votes to become president. The fact that the votes represented a compromise, speak to Nick’s emerging role as a broker on the council. This bodes well for Licata.

It doesn’t, however, bode well for Team Nickels. Licata is one of the sharpest critics of Nickels’s go-go agenda.

In honor of Mr. Licata, here’s the endorsement we published when he ran for reelection in November (And check out the last graph, in particular):

City Council Position 6 Vote for Nick Licata

Okay. We swear we’re not just drunk dialing. The Stranger Election Control Board loves Nick Licata. A stalwart opponent of corporate giveaways (he’s currently lining up votes to oppose Team Nickels’s plans to subsidize the Sonics), Licata is Seattle’s iconoclastic lefty—the council’s most reliable go-to-guy for do-gooder activists, government accountability cranks, and the marginalized.

Case in point, Licata recently amended Team Nickels’s patronizing and sexist strip-club “four- foot” rule, scaling back Nickels’s attempt to force strippers into the court system rather than the more collaborative hearing-examiner process. (And after sneaking in that fix, Licata righteously rounded up three other protest votes and voted against Nickels’s nanny-state legislation as a whole. Ha!)

Speaking of challenging Nickels, Licata has often been the lone dissenting vote against the mayor’s big plans: No on Nickels’s useless vanity fix to Mercer, no on Nickels’s UW lease lid lift, no on Nickels’s unfunded viaduct tunnel plan (Hey, Greg, maybe we should give you a month to come up with a finance plan!), and—voting with lefty ally Peter Steinbrueck—no on authorizing $3.9 million in city money for Paul Allen’s streetcar.

Licata has been a determined critic of developer giveaways, taking up the fight (again with Steinbrueck) to amend Nickels’s plans in South Lake Union and downtown. And he’s currently pushing for expanded library hours in Nickels’s new budget, arguing that keeping the current Republican library hours (never fucking open) in place is a disservice to working-class people.

A longtime monorail advocate who argues that monorail technology is better suited to Seattle than Sound Transit’s light rail technology, Licata wants to keep monorail technology alive by getting Sound Transit to adopt the idea. He also says he will not let the monorail’s MVET be transferred to anything but mass transit projects.

Our one gripe with Nick is that as a veteran council member, with two terms under his belt, he still struggles to get the votes to bolster his crusades. For example, his amendment to require a citywide transportation-needs study before committing new bus hour money to South Lake Union went nowhere. And his idea for a city levy to fund both cops and social services disappeared.

The powers-that-be still view Licata as a threat. Team Vulcan tried, unsuccessfully, to field a candidate to challenge Licata. They failed because Licata’s most remarkable talent (thanks to his straight-shooting manner) is his ability to earn the respect of his adversaries. For example, the cop union endorsed Licata this year even though Licata—who chairs the council’s cop committee—is pledging to fight for stricter police-accountability rules like demanding unredacted complaint files.

The SECB has dreams of a Mayor Licata. At the very least, we’re hoping for a Council President Licata, who would shake up city hall’s second floor and pull the council in a more activist direction. Vote Licata!

CommentsRSS icon

Screw football - this victory actually means something. Way to go, Nick!

YES! Go, Nick!

When Conlin was in line for the council presidency, The Stranger's theme was, "Oh, this is just some figurehead position." Now that Licata's got it, The Stranger's acting like this means something. I don't get it.

Take that up with one Erica C. Barnett, the lone proponent of that odd position.

I'll be curious to see what she says.

Hi Everyone,

I believe the Council President determines which Council committee the Mayor's draft legislation is assigned to for review.

This can be important, since some committees are more skeptical than others of the legislation coming down from Hizzoner.

I think both NL and RC will/would have been fine in the role. Maybe NL will be a bit more in Hizzoner's face?

We'll find out.

GC the City Hall Junkie

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