McGinn promises to listen, but not a lot of action.It seems that

McGinn promises to listen, but not a lot of action.It seems that Mayor Mike McGinn’s plan, for the next few months at least, is to listen.The only specific he laid out in his speech at City Hall today was to pay attention while concerned citizens talk about education, transportation, the environment and business growth. He has forums and symposiums planned, he says, with a series of four led by Norm Rice to talk about how the city should keep kids occupied and out of trouble. “Everything we say is a promise,” he told the crowd sitting on the steps of City Hall. “It’s a commitment to what we’re going to do in the future.”But so far the only promise, it seems, is to make promises and commitments someday. First there is going to be a whole lot of talking and listening.During the campaign, McGinn proved listening is what he does best. His applause lines in the big speeches, as with today, tend to fall a little flat. And he’s known for having a stubborn streak (as evidence, his continuing antagonism on the tunnel). But at one of the dozens of town halls he held before the election, one woman who disagreed with his tunnel position left planning to vote for him mostly because he shook her hand and listened to her concerns about the city. He takes in what people says, nodding attentively. And that served him well in getting people to pick his name from between two political unknowns this fall.So its understandable that McGinn would want to stick to his strengths. Still, at some point he needs to go from promising to be an open, accessible and attentive mayor to actually coming up with something specific to propose and navigating the politically murky waters of disagreement that will inevitably follow.Greg Nickels was accused of being too much the policy bully–pushing through his development and roads projects on Aurora and in South Lake Union without regard for the feelings of the people living and working there. McGinn is bending over backward to be the anti-Nickels. And if being a good listener now with forums and symposiums and town halls means he can get things done later without incurring the wrath Nickels did, that will be to his credit. But when he starts running for re-election in three years, he needs to be able to point to specific policy initiatives and achievements. Simply saying he will show the world that “Seattle is a leader in the new green economy” is a good campaign slogan. But in his speech today, he didn’t say what, specifically, the world is going to see Seattle doing to get there.”Seattle is a promise,” McGinn concluded, but so far, we have no idea what specifically Seattle, and he as its mayor, promises to do.