The transportation plans of Mayor Greg Nickels and billionaire Paul Allen for the South Lake Union neighborhood keep advancing, despite glaring flaws. On Monday, Nov. 1, the Seattle City Council authorized a study of the plan to turn Mercer Street into a two-way boulevard. In doing so, the council made clear that it doesn’t matter that the $200 million plan will not improve traffic flow in the area. Rather, the council signed on to the fantasy that a two-way Mercer Street will help South Lake Union become a 24/7 biotech wonderland. On Oct. 28, the Puget Sound Regional Council became the latest government to fall under the spell of the biotech booster virus that is sweeping governments across the nation when it put up $4.3 million in federal transportation dollars toward the $45 million needed to build a 1.3-mile streetcar from downtown to South Lake Union, which Nickels and Allen are promoting. The Nickels administration has now identified $36.5 million of the streetcar’s costs, the bulk of which would come from a special tax on South Lake Union property owners. The streetcar, like a two-way Mercer Street, has dubious transportation utility, but Allen and other developers lust after it as a way to make the neighborhood more attractive to new businesses. Being as how the city’s transportation infrastructure has been neglected for years, citizens might hope the City Council would serve as a check on the raid of public transportation dollars for one developer’s agenda. But such hopes are rapidly being dashed. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.
University of Washington
Does the University of Washington plan to quit shooting itself in the foot? Its 1999–2004 medical-school billing scandal, which cost $30 million in fines and millions more in severance pay, ran up $27 million in legal fees, much of it the expense of stonewalling. Despite warning signs dating back to 1999, the school also permitted Dr. William Scheyer to prescribe banned substances and other drugs to athletes and staffers through 2003, causing untold emotional and financial harm to several athletic programs. This week, UW football coach Keith Gilbertson announced his postdated resignation in the midst of a disastrous 1-7 (so far) season; the loyal Gilby was unable to reassemble the wreckage left behind by the knee-jerk firing last year of Rick Neuheisel for illegal gambling—something the NCAA now says never happened, bolstering Neu’s case for a large settlement owing to his unjustified canning. Let’s see: $60 million here, $10 million there, $30 million thataway. Pretty soon, as Ev Dirksen once said, it starts to add up to real money. RICK ANDERSON
By “putting out a better paper every day.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editor and Publisher Roger Oglesby, detailing his keen strategy to counter the P-I‘s relentless circulation drop, from 191,169 in 2000, the year Oglesby was appointed publisher, to 145,964 this week. P-I weekday circulation is down about 3 percent from a year ago, while joint operating agreement companion The Seattle Times has held steady at 231,051.