Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, October 19, 2009

McGinn tones down anti-tunnel rhetoric

Funny how the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement can change things.

As readers of The NPI Advocate know, there's no bigger issue in the Seattle mayoral race than the deep bore tunnel, which Joe Mallahan supports and Mike McGinn ardently opposes. This afternoon, after saying repeatedly for months he'll do all he can to stop the tunnel from being constructed, McGinn changed his tune:
Today, the City Council authorized Mayor Greg Nickels to sign an intergovernmental agreement with the State of Washington committing Seattle to the tunnel plan.

I disagree with the decision. I disagree with the timing.

But the reality is Mayor Nickels and the Council have entered into an agreement, and the City is now committed to the tunnel plan.

If I'm elected Mayor, although I disagree with this decision, it will be my job to uphold and execute this agreement. It is not the Mayor's job to withhold the cooperation of city government in executing this agreement.
If the tunnel is a terrible idea, as McGinn has long claimed, then why should the approval of today's agreement change his vow to block the project?

Joe Mallahan thinks he knows the answer:
My opponent has spent the last eight months campaigning on one issue – stopping the tunnel and our economy from moving forward.

Now he’s changing his position because he’s seen the poll numbers and is fighting for his political life. My opponent has shown he is willing to say whatever voters want to hear. His flip-flopping clearly demonstrates that voters have a choice between a political opportunist or a principled leader and effective manager, like myself, to lead this city and our economy forward.
McGinn skillfully used opposition to the tunnel to vault through the primary just ahead of Greg Nickels, who was narrowly eliminated.

Now, however, McGinn is in the general election, and he has only one opponent: Joe Mallahan. Mallahan's support for the tunnel has earned him favor from a number of unions and business organizations (although the state's largest commercial union, UFCW Local 21, has endorsed McGinn).

Perhaps McGinn has finally started to realize that accomplishing his other objectives as mayor will be difficult, if not impossible, if he goes to war with the governor, the next King County Executive, and the Seattle City Council over the tunnel. (The governor has endorsed Mallahan, although neither Dow Constantine nor Susan Hutchison is taking sides in the contest.)

The consensus is that we've debated what to do with the Alaskan Way Viaduct for long enough, and it's simply time to move on getting the tunnel built. Mike McGinn may not like that consensus, but at least he's signaling he'll respect it.


Blogger MarcLord said...

The tunnel may be a political reality, but McGinn was right to oppose it this long. Seattle will be hostage to a foreign engineering firm whose interests predictably lie in getting a big project started and then running up into its true costs later. Check out Bechtel's handling of the Big Dig, amongst many other projects.

Point being cost overruns are the norm. Mallahan's position that the state will be on the hook for any cost overruns is wishful thinking and we are probably going to get raped by this thing. At least McGinn did some research and thinking, whereas Mallahan has exhibited the behavioral traits of a narcissistic optimist who has little patience for detail.

October 20, 2009 10:24 AM  

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