Mike McGinn Shows His Chicago-esque Side on Panhandling Vote

Maybe McGinn's Chicago-style fedora inspired him to engage in a little political manipulation for a much-needed win.
The most common criticism of Greg Nickels was that he ran the city like a Chicago-style political boss--using strong-arm tactics like sending out his bulldog Tim "The Shark" Ceis to threaten political opponents and bend the council to Nickels' will.

For the first three months of his term, Mike McGinn has seemed to be suffering the opposite fate. When the council disagrees with McGinn--whether on the tunnel or his proposed levy to replace the aging downtown seawall--they publicly scold him, then move on with their own agenda. That is, until now.

McGinn vocally opposed Tim Burgess' anti-aggressive panhandling ordinance. And he managed, at the last minute, to get enough "nay" votes to support a mayoral veto, which he plans to do. It seems he's finally starting to get the hang of effective (or as Nickels' opponents called it: "Chicago-style") politicking.

City rules says a two-thirds majority of the council can overturn a mayoral veto. And as of yesterday morning, McGinn only had three council members on his side. Shockingly, longtime McGinn ally Mike O'Brien was not one of them.

Before yesterday's vote, Steve Scher asked McGinn about it (with his standard vagueness):

Scher: "Have you been making any phone calls to any of the council members, to get them to vote one way or the other, you do any arm twisting?"

McGinn: "No, I don't do arm twisting."

Scher: "Mike O'Brien was elected in part, you know, Mike O'Brien and Mike McGinn were kind of running together. I believe he said, the latest I heard, was that he was going to vote for this. I don't know if that's changed or if that was accurate."

McGinn: "I'd urge people, if they have an opinion one way or another, to give Mike a call before 2:00 today."

And by the time 2 p.m. rolled around, O'Brien had a change of heart. The ordinance passed 5-4, too weak to withstand a veto. The Seattle Times reports that McGinn did actively lobby O'Brien to change his vote. "Arm twisting," "calling someone out on the radio," "poTAYto," "poTAHto."

McGinn has 10 days to veto the measure. Then the council has another 30 days to overturn his veto. So don't be surprised if the Downtown Seattle Association and other backers of the Burgess ordinance do some passive-aggressive arm twisting of their own to try and convince one of the opponents in yesterday's vote to support it the second time around.

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