The New York Times today reports on Seattle's tunnel battle, and catches Mayor Mike McGinn tripping over himself again as he explains his election vow not to stop the new waterfront tube from going forward.
With polls tight in the final weeks before the general election, Mr. McGinn hedged, saying he would not necessarily stand in the tunnel's way. Now that he is in office, he is back to fighting it . . . "I never said I wouldn't fight the tunnel," Mr. McGinn, a Democrat, said in an interview. He later sent a text message, "To clarify: I always said I would fight paying cost overruns on the tunnel."
That's something he said mainly after the election, but, however he wishes to "clarify" his stand, the mayor is doing the opposite of what the candidate promised: He is trying to stop the tunnel from going forward, donating money and campaigning against it as well.
"Some people," the Times notes, "call him a liar." Predecessor Greg Nickels was more diplomatic, saying he was "surprised and disappointed" by McGinn's disingenuous about-face after taking office. Nickels, conversely, feels good about his own 2009 campaign, even if he lost: "My calculus was that this [backing the tunnel] is the kind of thing that it's OK to lose an election over," said Nickels, who lost in the primary.
McGinn says the tunnel fight is not just about "a highway anymore . . . It's about the type of city we are and what are our priorities."
Gov. Chris Gregoire tells the paper that McGinn's hope for a surface transit plan to replace the viaduct is, essentially, "social engineering." That "works in some places, like banning cigarettes in some places," she said. But "telling people you no longer can ride in your car isn't going to work because this city is going to grow."
On the other hand, Gregorire's tunnel is projected to carry less than half of the 110,000 cars that travel on the viaduct each day, in part because many people will refuse to pay $4 tolls. It will have no downtown exits, and the city is likely to pay any cost overruns.
And on the third hand, nobody seems to know what anybody really wants. As that recent poll by Stuart Elway shows, barely a third of voters support Gregoire's tunnel, while even fewer support McGinn's surface plan. Actually, most--around 40 percent--back a repaired or replaced viaduct.
The one majority (55 percent) preference was for putting the tunnel to a vote--something we've done before. "We really like voting here," Elway said.