nickelslittle.jpg
Updates Below

That's what Councilmembers Rasmussen and Licata say happened with yesterday's vote to approve funding for the Mercer corridor project, which many council members

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Nickels Pulls a Fast One?

nickelslittle.jpg
Updates Below

That's what Councilmembers Rasmussen and Licata say happened with yesterday's vote to approve funding for the Mercer corridor project, which many council members thought would get federal stimulus money.

Today, the legislature announced the recipients of the state's share of stimulus money, and the Mercer and Spokane St. projects were not on the list. Licata and Rasmussen note that, in her press conference, House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn said that Nickels, Jan Drago, and Christine Gregoire all knew the legislature would not be providing stimulus money for Seattle's projects. [Update I: Drago responds.] Says Licata, "We've been dealing with mirages and shifting sand. Their [Nickels and Seattle Dept. of Transportaiton] stories have been convenient to getting the project done, as opposed to giving us information to make good decisions.

Nickels' spokesperson Alex Fryer disputes Clibborn's account. "There were discussions going on until the last minute," he says. "Essentially no one knew what was on or off that list until 12:30 when they had a press conference and announced it." Fryer says that Clibborn "had apparently told the mayor what her philosophy was with these projects," but adds that that philosophy--which largely excludes urban areas--"runs directly contrary to what Obama himself said he wants to see happen" with the stimulus money."

Update I: In his speech the morning of the announcement, Nickels said:

"Today, my understanding is the Legislature will announce how it will spend $350 million in federal transportation funds - the first installment of the stimulus.

The best information we have this morning indicates that Mercer and Spokane will not be on the Legislature's list.

In fact, the Legislature will not fund a single project of any significance in Seattle."

Fryer explains:

[T]he Mayor knew that Rep. Clibborn's approach was "this is

state money for the state to spend." We respectfully disagree with that

philosophy, and have been talking to folks in Olympia. Late Monday, we

heard rumors that Spokane and Mercer were not included, but we couldn't

gather any specifics - no one here saw any list. We tried to gather

information. When the Mayor gave his speech on Tuesday morning, we had

to say "the best information we have..." Even then, we believed the list

was still a work in progress.

I will tell you this: every TV on the 7th Floor of City Hall was tuned

to TVW at 12:30 pm on Tuesday. No one saw any list because this process

was not public.

Audio of Clibborn's remarks on the subject begins at 14:15:

The press release from Licata and Rasmussen:

"Today we learned from the joint Transportation Committee press

conference in Olympia that the Mayor knew in advance that $50 million

needed to fully fund the Mercer Project would not be included in the

proposed Federal stimulus package.

"The Council voted 6-3 yesterday to release the remainder of Mercer

Project funds after the Executive provided a full funding plan, thus

meeting the Council's requirement from last year's budget process.

It appears this vote was taken without Councilmembers knowing that the

state Transportation Chairs had already decided not to propose funding

this project from the Federal stimulus funds. It raises the question

whether the Council would have voted to proceed with this project if it

had known that the city does not have the money to complete it.

"The Council should re-examine its options with regard to the Mercer

Project, and consider spending limitations."

 
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