New McGinnings: the police chief hunt

A few signs of how much the McGinn era, at least at first, will be a continuity regime.
A few signs of how much the McGinn era, at least at first, will be a continuity regime.

Is the new mayor starting to resemble the outgoing Mayor Nickels? One indication of that is McGinn's decision to keep the search committee for a new police chief pretty much the same as the one Nickels had named in September, and which has already begun its work. Erica Barnett, pooh-poohing the criticism of the one-of-every-interest-group nature of the search committee, pointed this continuity out, noting that the four additional members were all reasonable choices.

Those four new members provide further insights into the McGinn method. One is Anne Levinson, a former deputy mayor and Seattle Storm co-owner (a hugely popular political cause). Another is Charles Rolland, head of Communities and Parents for Public Schools, a reform group that had its origins in Mayor Nickels' efforts to get better people on the Seattle School Board. Jenna Walden, a Southeast Seattle activist, reflects the McGinn effort to heavy-up his political credibility in that crucial swing area, Nickels' last redoubt of voter support. Last is Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell, an odd choice but one that reflects the growing cordial ties between McGinn and Harrell. (It's also a snub to Tim Burgess, the chair of the public safety committee, a move that might indicate an early McGinn tendency to diss likely mayoral rivals such as Burgess.)

Another sign of Nickels' continuity was McGinn's decision to retain Robert Nellams as head of Seattle Center, despite the problems Nellams has had in generating much momentum for a badly needed capital levy, likely in 2012 for the Center's 50th anniversary celebration of the 1962 World's Fair. For years, Seattle Center had been run as a kind of independent nation by Virginia Anderson, who often feuded with Nickels and Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis. Nellams has been much more deferential and a protector of the powerful interests for the status quo at the politically volatile center. Scratch one more opportunity for big change.


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