Joe McDermott Mug.jpg
McDermott says the City and County are committed to carrying out a full SEPA review before any public funding is released.
As Chris Hansen has

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Joe McDermott Explains Why He Voted 'Yes' On Hansen's Arena Deal, and Why He Believes It's 'In Solid Legal Standing'

Joe McDermott Mug.jpg
McDermott says the City and County are committed to carrying out a full SEPA review before any public funding is released.
As Chris Hansen has made a habit out of pointing out, as recently as yesterday, there's a lot of work yet to be done before NBA basketball officially returns to Seattle. But it sure feels a lot closer.

*See Also: Kris 'Sonics Guy' Brannon on His Tireless Efforts, His Celebrity Status, and His Three Favorite Sonics

That's because, as you know, on Monday the Seattle City Council voted to approve a revised Memorandum of Understanding with Hansen, by a vote of 7-2, and the Metropolitan King County Council did the same, only unanimously.

While the votes aren't being applauded by everyone -- the Longshoreman Union, for example, isn't too keen on the deal - Monday afternoon was spent mostly in celebration. Mayor McGinn and King County Exec Dow Constantine issued gleeful statements; council members from both bodies high-fived (except City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Richard Conlin, that is); and an official legislation-signing ceremony was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

One of the County Councilmembers smiling was Joe McDermott, who along with Tim Burgess from the City Council met with reporters after the deal was done.

Seattle Weekly caught up with McDermott to get his take.

Seattle Weekly: In your opinion, what was the most important aspect of the approved deal in terms of winning over the council? What did it take to get this thing passed?

Joe McDermott: The strength of the financial protections were a very important aspect of getting us to today. The financial guarantee by both ArenaCo and Mr. Hansen provide the taxpayers further assurance that our General Fund - and their money - will be protected. In fact, UW Professor Justin Marlowe, an expert in public-private partnerships, declared this is the best proposal he has seen in over ten years of analysis.

Can you explain why you were in favor of approving the deal, specifically answering concerns that have been brought up by oponents - like traffic fears, or fears that a SoDo arena will negatively impact Port of Seattle operations?

I was a skeptic when I first learned of this deal, as were many of my colleagues. King County has a long and difficult history with sports facilities. But we took the needed time to vet this proposal. In the end, I didn't feel there was concrete data to show that the fears of the Port were warranted at this time. The City, in an effort to address concerns they heard, created the Transportation Infrastructure Fund which will provide some capital and the pathway to leverage more funds to make infrastructure improvements as needed in SODO. We have also required a full economic analysis be completed before any public money can be released. This analysis addresses impacts on the Port of Seattle and will help guide next steps in this process.

Does the lawsuit being threatened by the Longshoremen Union change anything? Are their concerns valid?

The City and County are committed to carrying out a full SEPA review before any public funding will be released - and before any future transactional documents can be agreed on. The legislation is clear that the City and County will not decide whether to move forward until after a full EIS is completed. It is my belief we are in solid legal standing.

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