This isn't a sign I spotted on the road, but rather on foot.
On the backside of Seattle's Seward Park – the eastern stretch of the peninsula that faces Mercer Island – a major project happened during the late summer. A giant, and I mean giant, barge was brought in by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and loudly unloaded a new shoreline, dumping rocks, sand, and gravel all along the water's edge. There are now beaches where there were no beaches.
It's all part of trying to improve habitat for juvenile chinook salmon, the city says. As part of that process, they cut down a beautiful row of old poplars. I walk there very frequently and was annoyed by that, but I understand the purpose: Part of the restoration involves planting "native" vegetation to "provide shade and harbor food sources" for the young salmon. They have done this elsewhere in the park, and this new bare spot won't be there forever. In a 100 years or so, there may be some nice young red cedars there – if the climate then is still friendly to red cedars. Let's hope many millions of happy baby salmon benefit.
But what really annoyed me was a sign at the bottom of the sign describing the conservation work. I quote:
This project will help build a stronger community and healthy families, one of Mayor Greg Nickels' highest priorities for Seattle.
Oh, please. I thought every mayor wanted to make a weaker community filled with sick children.
We do not need a Nickels re-election sign on the lakeshore of a public park editorializing about our Maximum Leader's good intentions. This is clearly a political campaign-style message tacked onto a project description. Nickels and his deputy mayor, Tim Ceis, are notorious for pushing the boundaries in ways that resemble Karl Rove's efforts to run a permanent campaign at public expense. As when Nickels used city resources to produce a video for the waterfront tunnel to sway public opinion, or when his hand was slapped by the city ethics office for producing self-promoting brochures. And while we're at it, some people complain that the Seattle Channel has sometimes seemed like "all Greg all the time."
Par for the course for a strongman, Chicago-born mayor I suppose. But this piece of silly propaganda reminds me of Stalinist states like North Korea. There, nut-job dictator Kim Jong-Il has, among many other titles, this one: "Greatest Saint Who Rules with Extensive Magnanimity."
We should be seeing that one on city stationary shortly.