Time well spent
This year Mayor Greg Nickels delivered his State of the City address at the Washington Trade and Convention Center in June, a break with the unspoken tradition of making such speeches in City Council chambers. Mayor Nickels invited councilmembers and the public to the speech, which was given directly after a private Rotary function.
Councilmembers Jean Godden and Jan Drago were the only councilmembers to hear Nickels' speech in person. Remaining councilmembers reportedly felt snubbed by the mayor.
City Council President Nick Licata had recently threatened to amend the City Charter to specify that mayors would have to give such speeches directly to Council at City Hall. But now Licata is adopting a more egalitarian tone, saying "Each mayor is going to decide for himself who an important audience is."
Licata now plans instead to push to amend the charter to codify a tradition started by Mayor Norm Rice -- a February address rather than a June speech.
It looks like he has the votes at City Council, says Licata. Voters can expect to see this proposed charter amendment on the ballot in November.
Superstition's one thing. Civil disobedience is another. And for the 13 people arrested last March at the Port of Tacoma during war protests, luck -- and the law -- was on their side when all charges against them were thrown out of court.
The protestors were demonstrating the deployment of a Ft. Lewis Stryker brigade that was en route to Iraq. Claiming the demonstrators' actions violated a traffic law, police took the 13 protesters into custody. But on July 18, as reported in The Olympian, a municipal court judge dismissed all charges that the protestors had failed to comply with police commands.
Phan Nguyen, who was one of those arrested, says in an email that while he's pleased the charges have been dropped, he's shocked he and his cohorts were ever taken into custody. "The charges were baseless," says Ngyuyen.
Vets to protest VA
On July 28, Chanan Suarez Diaz, president of the Seattle chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, will take part in a protest planned at the veterans hospital on Beacon Hill, where he and organizers with the Troops Home Now Coalition will call for an end to the war – and full funding for veterans services.
“We want to shine a light on what’s going on with veterans and how they’re not getting the treatment they deserve,” says Diaz, 25. “The ones that do survive expect to get proper care when they get out and it’s not happening.”
“There’s an increase in Iraq veterans becoming homeless and committing suicide,” he says, “because the VA is severely underfunded.”
“People have been lied to,” Diaz says, “and the lies have completely shattered them for the rest of their lives.”
“Fund the Wounded, Not the War” starts July 28 with a noon march from the corner of Beacon Ave. S. and Columbia Way S. to the VA hospital at 1660 Columbia Way S. A panel discussion follows at 2 p.m. at the Jefferson Community Center, 3801 Beacon Ave. S.