With Mayor McGinn, the Council's Damned If They Do and Damned When They Don't

Call him No-Win McGinn. After discouraging the city council from signing final agreements with the state on building the waterfront tunnel, and promising a veto, Mayor Mike McGinn is now criticizing the council for not signing the agreements.

Yesterday, council members put off signing the agreements, saying they would do so early next year, allowing time for issues such as the much-vaunted "cost overruns" to be worked out. The resolution is non-binding, meaning the city could still back out. And it explicitly states that the council will only sign off on the tunnel if "nothing in the proposed agreements imposes any obligation on the City to pay costs or cost overruns."

Based on the text of the resolution, you'd think McGinn would be jumping for joy. He's insisted for months that his primary issue with the tunnel is the provision in state legislation calling on property owners who benefit from the project to pay cost overruns if the construction goes over budget.

But gaining time to work out that problem is no good in the mayor's eyes. Now he's upset that the city council didn't sign the agreements, because that means there's nothing for tunnel opponents to create a referendum on. After saying, during his election campaign, that the city was "committed" to the tunnel and he wouldn't stand in its way, McGinn is now actively encouraging efforts to put the tunnel up for a public vote.

At a press conference this afternoon, McGinn reiterated an accusation he first made yesterday that the council is trying to subvert democracy by putting off final approval. "They don't approve the agreements... because they don't want a public vote," he said today. "I think there's a fair question of whether the council would ever let the public vote on it."

It seems that the only way to uphold democracy in McGinn's eyes is to stop the tunnel altogether.

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