SEATTLE – King County council member Greg Nickels regained some of his earlier lead in the mayor’s race as elections officials released a count of nearly 18,000 absentee ballots Wednesday.
Nickels’ lead jumped from 1,640 votes to 2,287 over city attorney Mark Sidran. To date, Nickels has pulled 76,306 ballots, or 50.8 percent, to Sidran’s 74,019, or 49.2 percent.
The latest count contrasted with previous tallies of absentee votes, which showed Sidran gaining substantially.
Nickels led by 7,200 votes on election night.
An estimated 16,000 votes remain to be counted, said King County elections superintendent Julie Anne Kempf.
If that estimate proves correct, Sidran would have to win more than 57 percent of the remaining votes to beat Nickels.
Somali market owner asks to reopen: The owner of a small Seattle market that was shut down in a raid aimed at terrorist funding sources last week has begun action to recover his property and resume business. A Treasury Department official confirmed on Tuesday that Abdelinesir Ali, owner of Maka Mini-Mart and Halal Meats, had written the agency’s Office of Foreign Asset Control to seek the return of equipment and furniture. “I think they didn’t know it was two businesses,” Ali said yesterday, “I was caught up.” Officials have said the little store, which catered to Somali refugees, was raided last week because Ali sublet a small space to Hassan Farrah, the registered owner of Barakat Wire Transfer, a hawala or money exchange. Hundreds of Somalis relied on Barakat to send funds to relatives overseas, mostly in east Africa. “I can prove I have nothing to do with this,” Ali said. “His business has a different license, different accounts, even different phone number.” Last Wednesday, Bush administration officials said Barakat’s parent company, Al Barakaat, was being used to provide funding for Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaida terrorist network and shut the operation down with raids in Seattle, Boston and Columbus, Ohio.
An ugly maze: Most of the time when people talk about an ugly maze in government, they’re referring to convoluted paperwork or bureaucratic runarounds. At Seattle’s Municipal Building, the ugly maze was outside in the form of 36 rough, worn concrete blocks in three rows on the sidewalk along Fourth Avenue. The Seattle Times described it as “a cross between Stonehenge and Omaha Beach.” The purpose of the barrier, planned in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and installed last weekend, was to make the downtown building less vulnerable to being rammed by a vehicle. “I laughed,” Mayor Paul Schell said after seeing the results Tuesday. “It was overkill.” Officials said someone in the Fleets and Facilities Department got carried away with the instructions. Plans were hastily made Tuesday to remove some of the blocks.
Shoving match with former mayor: A shoving match between a 16-year-old girl and former Tacoma Mayor Karen Vialle, who was substitute-teaching at a high school, apparently started when chatty students refused to quiet down, police said. No charges have been filed in the incident that occurred Friday at Mount Tahoma High School. Vialle, 58, was treated at a hospital afterward, complaining of chest pains. The student involved in the tussle was not injured. Vialle and the student told police the scuffle began when some students continued talking during silent reading despite warnings from Vialle. Vialle, who served as mayor from 1990 to 1994, called it an “unfortunate incident.” Following standard procedure, Vialle will not be allowed back in a classroom until the investigation is over, said Tacoma School District spokeswoman Patty Holmgren. According to police, 13 students interviewed by officers said Vialle swore at the class, calling students monkeys and chimpanzees, then approached the student’s desk and shoved her when the girl told her not to curse in the classroom. Vialle said she pushed the girl away after the girl spit in her face – an allegation the 16-year-old denied. The girl said she pushed back and ended up standing over Vialle on the desk. At that point, another teacher ran into the room and broke up the scuffle, police said.
Still a mystery: An old car at the bottom of Lake Crescent apparently isn’t the key to a 72-year-old mystery, an Olympic National Park spokeswoman says. Divers determined that the car was a Ford Model A of unknown vintage, not the 1927 Chevrolet that Russell Warren and his wife Mildred were believed to be driving when they disappeared in 1929, park spokeswoman Barb Maynes said Tuesday. On July 3, 1929, Warren picked up his wife from the Port Angeles hospital where she had been a patient, loaded a new washing machine in the car and headed back to a logging camp on the Bogachiel River near Forks. They never arrived. “They left two young children, ages 11 and 13, Charles and Frank, and the mystery behind what happened to Mr. and Mrs. Warren is still unresolved to this day,” park ranger Dan Pontbriand said. In recent days, park rangers and a private team of scuba divers examined a car that was found in about 65 feet of water off Pirates Cove, near the lake’s east end. Its measurements appeared to match those of a 1931 Model A Ford that was found about 45 feet below the surface just east of Barnes Point, ruling out the one belonging to the Warrens. Park authorities are trying to document what lies at the bottom of the eight-mile-long lake, home to a number of wrecked vehicles.
No loaves, but plenty of fishes: The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will donate 40,000 pounds of hatchery salmon filets to the Oregon Food Bank on Wednesday, an unprecedented donation in the agency’s history. The department can make the donation because its hatcheries had more returning salmon than it needed for harvesting eggs. About 280,000 more salmon and steelhead than needed are returning this year to the state’s 34 hatcheries. State officials say the food bank contribution is one of many ways the agency deals with excess hatchery fish, including placing salmon bodies in streams to add nutrients and releasing live fish in rivers to give sport fishers an extra chance at catching them. Trent Stickell, the department’s director of fish propagation, said the donation wouldn’t be possible without the enormous number of wild and hatchery fish returning to Oregon’s waterways this year. The boom is most apparent in the Columbia River, where more than 3.1 million adult salmon and steelhead are projected to return, the most since record-keeping began in 1938.
Socks stick it to suspect: A pair of dirty socks helped end the criminal career of David Ernest Gildersleeve, who stole a woman’s car at gunpoint and was shot by police after a high-speed chase. Gildersleeve was convicted Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court on charges of attempted aggravated murder, robbery, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and being a felon in possession of a firearm. Jurors found the 34-year-old Tualatin man ordered Mary Finzel, 50, of Oregon City, to give up the keys to her car at gunpoint, then led police on a chase through Portland. He crashed Finzel’s car and fled on foot armed with a .40-caliber Ruger handgun. Gildersleeve admitted leading police on the chase, but denied holding up Finzel. He said he “jumped in the car and took it” because the keys had been left in the ignition and the motor was running. Gildersleeve said the gun and a backpack containing a sock filled with bullets were already on the seat. So he appeared somewhat shaken in court when Deputy District Attorney Eric Bergstrom showed jurors three dirty socks – two had been removed from Gildersleeve’s feet in the hospital, and the third, containing the bullets, was found in the car. The socks taken from Gildersleeve’s feet were mismatched, and the missing mate held the bullets.