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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Council Committee Assignments

posted by on December 18 at 16:32 PM

The city council will soon announce next year’s committee assignments, perhaps as early as this week. The choice of committee chairs is important—the person who heads a committee determines that committee’s legislative priorities (typically going so far as to change the name of the committee to reflect his or her own priorities), and in a sense dictates what legislation makes it in front of the council, and in what form. An effective committee chair gets his or her priorities through the council; an ineffective one flounders (Exhibit A: David Della’s leadership of the Parks committee).

Here’s the current tentative lineup:

Richard McIver: Housing and Economic Development (currently Housing, Human Services, and Health.) McIver wanted the council presidency, and was the likeliest contender—until he was charged with domestic violence earlier this year. The last time he chaired this committee, it was known as the Housing, Human Services, and Civil Rights Committee; back then, lefty housing groups like the Seattle Displacement Coalition squawked that he was inaccessible and too beholden to the Seattle Housing Authority, which runs subsidized-housing programs.

Jean Godden: Budget (currently Finance and Budget). Godden and current council president Nick Licata were reportedly battling for control of the budget committee, but it looks like Godden—who beat back Green opponent Joe Szwaja in November—has prevailed. As chair of the City Light committee, she pushed to lower electric rates and shepherded through the appointment of controversial City Light head Jorge Carrasco.

Tom Rasmussen: Parks (currently Parks, Education, Libraries and Labor). Rasmussen should bring a needed shot of competence to the leadership of the parks committee, which, under defeated council member David Della, failed to pass a parks levy and botched negotiations on the relocation of a center-city skatepark. But given that Nick Licata reportedly wants to take over education, libraries and labor, it’s unclear what else this committee would do.

Jan Drago: Transportation, which she’s chaired for the last two years.

Sally Clark: Land Use (currently Urban Planning and Development). We’re a bit nervous that Clark’s taking over the committee previously headed up by retiring council member Peter Steinbrueck, who’s used it as a platform to pass progressive, pro-environment, pro-density land use policies. Given Clark’s seeming antipathy toward nightlife (she pushed through a punitive noise ordinance yesterday, albeit with full council support) and tendency to bow to neighborhood pressure (e.g., the noise ordinance, which was pushed by Belltown and other neighborhood residents who complained loudly about noise from clubs) we’re skeptical that she’ll follow in his footsteps. But we’re keeping an open mind.

Bruce Harrell: City Light (currently Energy and Technology)—a position he said he wanted while on the campaign trail. We’re encouraged to see that Harrell, unlike Della (who campaigned against his opponent’s record on City Light but declined the leadership of the committee) is stepping up and taking on what can be a tough assignment.

Tim Burgess: Public Safety—possibly Public Safety, Health, and Human Services (currently Public Safety, Governmental Relations, and Arts). Under Nick Licata, the public safety committee has become a sounding board for victims of police misconduct, the indigent, and arts organizations (he has a poetry reading at the beginning of each committee meeting). Burgess, an ex-cop, is certain to have a different focus than Licata. Whatever else happens, we’re almost certain the poetry readings are a goner.

Richard Conlin: Utilities (currently Environment, Emergency Management, and Utilities) and Council President. Conlin, the current utility committee chair, has tried for the position before. The last time, he thought he had a lock on the job—that is, until council member Jim Compton resigned, breaking his 5-4 majority. That fiasco was followed by another when a bloc of council members who wanted Jean Godden to be president attempted a mini-coup while Conlin supporter Tom Rasmussen was on vacation, prompting Rasmussen to cut his vacation short and eventually propelling unlikely compromise candidate Licata into the position. This time, a similar scenario seems unlikely—although McIver was reportedly still interested in the position, no one I talked to thought he was a likely contender anymore—but Conlin isn’t in any position to thwart a last-minute competitor: As of today, he’s on vacation in Mexico.

That leaves…

Nick Licata, who will take on a hodgepodge of issue areas, reportedly including labor, arts, health, libraries, nightlife (whew!) and the Seattle Channel. The random-seeming committee jumble will actually mean less work for Licata, who currently chairs the powerful public-safety committee in addition to serving as council president—the heaviest lifting any council president has taken on in quite a while.

RSS icon Comments


So if I wanted to send a letter to the City Council suggesting some changes to the Landlord Tenant Laws of Seattle in favor of the tenants then McIver is my man?

Posted by thaumaturgistguy | December 18, 2007 4:31 PM

Thank you for the due diligence, Erica. Always appreciated.

Posted by Patrick McGrath | December 18, 2007 4:34 PM


I read all the way to the end and never saw my name. Again. Obviously the chances are poor for non-council members, but this is like the tenth year in a row I've been passed over.

I suppose maybe I'll just get jury duty or some shit like that again.

Posted by elenchos | December 18, 2007 4:37 PM

I'm pretty excited to see how Tim Burgess uses his seat this year. Could be great, could be wretched... better not be boring, given the fuss over his campaign.

Posted by Katelyn | December 18, 2007 4:40 PM

McIver and economic development? Heaven help us.

Posted by SP | December 18, 2007 4:42 PM

Well, after thinking thru the assignments I have but one thing to say ... wouldn't want to be in Georgetown next year ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 18, 2007 4:48 PM

Yep, gearing up to write a ton of new misconduct reports for the new year now that preventing police misconduct won't be a priority for the ex-cop on city council nor the mayor.

Posted by Packratt | December 18, 2007 5:21 PM

Putting a cop in charge of the City Council's public safety committee at the end of a year of police misconduct scandals is really terrible. But it's not like anyone on the Council had Nick's back anyway. And now we're gonna have Flanders for our City Council president. Can't wait for '09 when we get some real progressive candidates to run for open seats and finally kick Nickels to the curb (or to DC, or wherever).

Posted by Trevor | December 18, 2007 6:41 PM

The Senile Godden Overseeing the buddget??? SCAREY!!! Aunt Clara will do nothing but continue to shovel subsidies to Vulan per Lynn Tangen/Dan McGrady at Vulcan....

Posted by NOOO! | December 18, 2007 6:41 PM

Erica, you are a bit obsessed by Dave Della. He is gone. Nada. What he did or didn't do is history - and really boring to hear about from your "I love Burgess" perspective. Read the bios of the new park board, quite impressive. His project ... of course the downtown we are entitled, Stranger readers all, establishment did not like the shake-up.

Public Safety run by an ex-cop who owes his election to money and effort from the cop lobby and union will be an unmitigated fiasco. Seattle will shift from garrison city to the "law and order" nexus of the USA. and the cop $$$$$ will go up by millions and millions. What they want is what they will get. Beware if you are already wondering what the hell is happening in the police dept. Look for hefty pay raises for senior brass, thanks to "one of us" Burgess.

Sure happy I am not a young black guy about now.

Licata has the grab bag and will be routinely out voted now that Peter is gone.

Budget is a lot of paper work, the city has cash, and the senior staff does the work. It is the easiest committee on the council when there is money - no major cuts and even new money to spend - and there is tons of cash by comparison to past years. Godden of the wonderful wrinkles will do fine.

Posted by Essex | December 18, 2007 7:47 PM

Essex, your bitterness re Della's loss is palpable. Don't take it out on ECB. The people have spoken, he's out, get over it.

Posted by watcher | December 18, 2007 9:04 PM

Watcher - watch me get so over it. I don't trust Burgess at all.

You need to read the Erica post again, she refers to Della twice to prove some obscure point. He lost, why kick the guy in print? Please tell her to move on, I think you work with her.

Beyond not trusting Burgess, he is utterly as boring as an ex cop re born as media hack would be.

Posted by Essex | December 18, 2007 9:16 PM

Without Steinbrueck on the council, Nickels will be free to do as he likes. If you think Vulcan is getting a sweet deal now... just wait!

Posted by sam_iv | December 18, 2007 9:44 PM

Thanks for the info Erica, good summary (yes I do appreciate your reporting at times).

Posted by notonthehill | December 18, 2007 10:04 PM

Erica, stop dick riding , we know Della is an obsession for you.

Just waiting for the day when we hear Burgess supporting legislation that reminds us of his "
moral persuasion" article-and we will have The Stranger to blame.

"Public Safety run by an ex-cop who owes his election to money and effort from the cop lobby and union will be an unmitigated fiasco"-I second that!

Oh and what about all those enviro endorsements Burgess got, what does he intend do?

Posted by ahjustwaitingforburgesstoeffup | December 19, 2007 12:16 PM

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