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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Hall Monitor

posted by on June 7 at 15:18 PM

Lisa Herbold, superstar aide to Council President Nick Licata, called me with a “tiny little complaint” about my article in this week’s paper. The article explains the city waited until after SAM reopened their downtown museum to announce that Hempfest could use SAM’s sculpture park as an access route to Myrtle Edwards Park this August. In other words, the city wouldn’t piss off SAM until after their big gala.

Herbold was disappointed because I omitted mention of Licata’s efforts to mediate a solution. I didn’t have room in the printed piece to include Licata’s role, but there’s room in these here tubes.

Over the past year, Licata and his staff spent dozens of hours trying to find an access agreement between SAM and Hempfest. He coordinated numerous meetings, including representatives of SAM and Hempfest, the Council’s Parks Committee chair David Della, and the council’s Public Safety Committee. He even wrote an official letter last year asking SAM not to excavate a beach on the waterfront, which would severely narrow the path to Myrtle Edwards Park. Yet SAM dug it out anyway—SAM was the 800-pound gorilla on the waterfront. Licata did his best and deserves credit for his efforts. Several other factors lead to the city’s decree: The law department knew the city didn’t have a legal leg to stand, as was clear from the autocratic letter sent to SAM last month; newspapers gave SAM and the city bad ink; and an audit of the city’s Special Events Committee requested by Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck put the entire process under a microscope.

Which of the councilmembers, meetings, legal threats, news stories, legal department edicts, or invisible hands from the upper floors of city hall ultimately prompted the city to harsh SAM’s mellow? It is undoubtedly a confluence of factors, but, for whatever reasons, the official interpretation of the two-year-old waterfront-use agreement wasn’t made in Hempfest’s favor until one week after SAM’s re-opening.

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You included the speculation by McPeak rather than mention Licata's meetings? Oy.

Posted by tell me another one | June 7, 2007 4:36 PM

Thanks for the input Lisa. Let's all celebrate the fact that we have a completely ineffectual council. Hooray for ineptitude!! Perhaps if expectations are kept low enough, you can continue to be a "superstar"...

Posted by The Special Olympics of politics | June 8, 2007 3:42 AM

Pers. I suspected that the likes of Nick and other enlightened leaders would assure our freedom of assembly. The sculpture garden is great. However, that it is also the major entrance to M. Edwards Park was not integrated into a design that is very well thought out given the road/rail/urban core/waterfront/legacy soil contaminants challenges(I don't think designer's included a surge factor in the layout). Hempfest is a very successful event with positive economic impacts to the city. The Port of Seattle Police in their jurisdiction of the park like Hempfest for the behavior of the crowd and the absence of alcohol. Thumbs up for Hempfest, Nick and SAM.

Posted by Lawrence | June 8, 2007 10:11 AM

The stranger has no journalistic standards. Didn't Dominic run Hempfest for a while and now he is writing about the conflict. Why not have SAM and the city also write a story, then it might be "balanced". As for Licata he didn't want SAM to excavate the beach? It's the only one downtown and it is great. No wonder the viaduct isn't going anywhere. No vote for Licata, what a putz.

Posted by Julia | June 8, 2007 10:15 AM

Right, Julia. Bummer for SAm, huh? And, TMAO, that's also right. I didn't mention Licata's meetings in the article because they didn't explain the law department's change of position. Licata had been holding meetings for two years, seemingly to no avail. Maybe they played a part, but I included McPeak's speculation because it's pretty obvious he's correct.

Posted by Dominic Holden | June 8, 2007 10:54 AM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 2:29 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 2:30 PM

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