In front of a banner promising to make a "difference in people's lives" and flanked by six city council members (Sally Clark, Jean Godden and Richard McIver were reportedly still on an extended President's Day vacation), Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels gave the state of the city address this morning to a couple hundred members of the city and political who's who-- and a smattering of the public. Nickels traveled across town to give the address at the Pacific Science Center because, he says "it celebrates a trait that runs deep in the foundation of Seattle's soul: innovation."
As with most annual updates, the speech was boilerplate stuff. Seattle needs to continue meeting the goals of the Kyoto protocol by cutting emissions and reducing waste, build more affordable housing, become more pedestrian friendly. Nickels gave a nod to the SLUT, calling the opening of it "incredible," before adding: "I said I didn't care what people called it, just as long as they rode it," to chuckles from the audience. He also hinted at his position on expanding the thing, referring to the Westlake/South Lake Union route as the "first line of the Seattle Streetcar network."
Nickels thanked the council for their efforts on a few fronts like the streetcar (Jan Drago), pedestrian safety (Tom Rasmussen and Nick Licata), and for supporting his plan to put Park Rangers downtown.
He also announced a couple of new initiatives: Making Seattle the country's Green Building Capital by improving energy efficiency in older commercial and residential buildings-- an effort that will no doubt benefit McKinstry, the engineering and green retrofit firm in SoDo Nickels visited with Barack Obama earlier this month, and mentioned again in his speech today. Nickels also proposed drawing up a Customer Bill of Rights-- an outgrowth of something the council didn't give him last year, that 311 call center with one-stop dialing for all city services.
While innovation may be part of "Seattle's soul," Nickels says that doesn't mean it's easy. "Every good idea must run the gauntlet of skepticism. The people of Seattle are a feisty bunch."