Unauthorized Rogue HAC Endorsement of Mike McGinn for Mayor

Disclaimer: The following is the sole opinion of Dave and doesn’t necessarily represent the views of anyone else past or present at hugeasscity (but probably does).

Last night I had the pleasure of being invited for a leisurely bike ride down to Mount Baker to attend an informational house party hosted by the McGinn for Mayor campaign. Arriving fashionably late, we managed to enter right as McGinn began to explain to attendees why he should be Seattle’s next mayor. Now I have to admit, I’m predisposed to support McGinn. While serving as chair of the Seattle Sierra club, McGinn’s voice was the lone outspoken critic of the “Roads and Transit” initiative. Mike’s leadership was key in convincing voters like me that environmentalist and transit advocates need not accept the Faustian bargain presented to us. “Roads and transit” failed, and last November Sound Transit 2 passed overwhelmingly.

This time around, McGinn is targetting another potential disaster, a $4.2 billion tunnel through downtown that no one in Seattle seems to want or pay for. The state has announced by decree that Seattle will have a tunnel and that Seattle will pay for it. Now no offense to the state, but there are plenty of other world class cities that don’t have waterfront highways, and even one just a few hundreds miles north that has no highways cutting through it at all. Lets face it, with the school district closing schools and the library cutting hours, this city really doesn’t have the money to pay for a 1950’s auto extravagance in 2009. McGinn is the only candidate in this race who opposes the tunnel. Voting for him in the August 18th primary ensures that we have serious debate on the issue during the general election.

Now for some constructive criticism. McGinn’s campaign has three core pillars: transportation, education and internet infrastructure…Wait internet infrastructure? Huh? As a tech geek and engineer I have to admit that a city run fiber optic network does seem kind of cool, but there are many more pressing issues he can and should concentrate on. My neighborhood for instance has a huge gang problem. Last year marked one of the worst in recent memory for gang related shootings in the city. How is he going to address this problem? Artist are being run out of Capitol Hill, how do we as a city prioritize the need for a vibrant art community which makes neighborhoods like Capitol Hill desirable for all us condo buyers? I’m also curious about his position on night life in the city. The law may say that bars must stop serving at two, but 1:15 unfortunately seems like the norm these days. These and other questions about the future of our city will be asked if McGinn makes it into the general election. Some well thought out answers would be nice.

19 Responses to “Unauthorized Rogue HAC Endorsement of Mike McGinn for Mayor”

  1. Michael

    Excuse me, but if someone says a pillar of their campaign is transportation, and then opposes the only method of replacing a crumbling viaduct that has had any traction, that pillar, like the viaduct, is looking mighty rickety. As much as people would like to blow smoke, claim the project an “extravagance” and compare it to radically different projects like the “Big Dig” and assign it “potential for disaster,” the reality is that it’s very well thought through.

    I know it’s cool to be against big projects on the principle that they’re big projects, but until they get that light rail running through Ballard and West Seattle, the only choice we’ve got has tires and an internal combustion engine.

    Oh that’s right, we HAD a non-car transportation project to those areas that would have been close to finished by now, but it was killed because it became a big project.

    Oh, and that city 100 miles to the north has a train that actually GOES somewhere.

  2. Joseph

    1:15?!? Are you kidding me?? My out of town guests already find it comical that Seattle shuts down at 2, closing at 1 will be ridiculous!

    I did not know who Mike McGinn is but since he is opposing the tunnel I will vote AGAINST him. You say you don’t want a highway to run through the city but if the tunnel doesn’t happen then that means we’re going to get another viaduct.

  3. Dave Bordoley

    I should clarify about the nightlife thing. I’m actually annoyed that bars seem to close at 1:15 and not at 2 (or later). It seems like this is unfortunately the norm.

  4. Chris

    I like McGinn but I do not agree with his position on the Viaduct. Yes, its a lot of more money than the also-expensive surface option would have been, but I did not want to see our downtown streets turned into even more massive arterials. The downtown vancouver example is not appropriate, as its on the end of peninsula, not the center of a narrow isthmus like seattle is. Vehicles, electric, hydrogen or transit will need second option through downtown over the next hundred years; total dependency on I-5 is dicey in my mind.

    At any rate, that battles been fought, we finally have concensus and a funding plan. Lets move on

  5. Joe G

    I am a McGinn supporter and personally I see the brilliance of his opposition to the tunnel. It is not an opposition because of the fact that it is such a huge project, but rather an opposition due to the fact that this is the moment in time when we need to say, enough is enough with our car culture and we need to move transportaiton to more of a sustainable methods.

    The thing with the tunnel is that it is not the best way to replace the viaduct. We should be improving transportation throughout the core of the city and all the neighborhoods. Last Wednesday first and second aves going towards the stadiums were a total nightmare. If we had the first ave streetcar system in place a lot of that could be avoided. You see. It’s all about looking towards the future. The tunnel will be take a long time to build and if we are shortchanged on our other options while this is being constructed, then we will be just as behind in thirty years as we are now. SOV are not the way of the future, and now is the time when we need the vision to get us to where the future will be. Most people can not imagine this, so it takes a lot of guts for someone like McGinn to try and put this vision to the people.

  6. Rob Harrison AIA

    I was at this event also. I am impressed enough to back him. Compared to the other candidates, he’s closer to representing my point of view. Some definite issues to sort out. I agree with Dave that a City-owned fiber optic utility, while intriguing and probably a great idea, is not worthy of being one of his three pillars. Plenty of other much more pressing matters.

    I can’t claim to understand the intricacies of the situation, but it sounds to me like Mike’s opposition to the tunnel has a lot to do with a) the vagaries of funding it and b) the misplaced priority it represents. In the current plan, the City is responsible for ALL cost over-runs. So we could be on the hook for much more than the ~$1 billion we’ve already promised. What else could we do with that ~$1 billion?

  7. Elliott

    @6

    And it’s not just the one billion, its all the overruns as well. (Same engineering firm as the Big Dig…)

    Don’t forget the advantage of not forcing the state to pony up 3 billion for a single mile long Seattle project.

  8. David L.

    If you don’t feel pandered to by McGinn–and even if you take an opposing stance from him on an issue… Please, consider for a moment that you may be in the presence of a true leader. After 10 years working extensively with numerous local and state-level leaders, I will attest that Mike McGinn has the sharpest political mind I have encountered. He has the utmost integrity, bound by a commitment to what is right, strong economic and legal foundation, and the positives go on and on.

    Seattle has been asking for principled leadership that can get things done. He is the closest we will come to getting that in our lifetimes. Vote McGinn and donate to the McGinn campaign.

  9. Becky

    The tunnel won’t work. The tunnel doesn’t even have an on/off spot for Ballard. Nearly 5 billion dollars (not including cost overruns) and Ballard residents will have to travel through Fremont and Queen Anne to reach the tunnel.

    It just moves the traffic problem to another bunch of neighborhoods.

  10. alexjonlin

    I wish, too, that we could have had a surface-transit plan, but the reality is that you can’t always get what you want, and you need to compromise. This is exactly what Mayor Nickels did. From an urban planning standpoint, it is very important to get that ugly highway off of our waterfront, and this was the only way that that could happen given the political climate. Also, his priorities are more specific than that. He wants to add more bus service (something the city can’t do), make our schools better (something the city can’t do) and add more broadband access, which is ridiculous.
    Mayor Nickels has been great, being a huge leader on the environment and championing light rail as the chair of the Sound Transit board. Most people who don’t like him can’t give me a real reason why. Some say he’s just abrasive and not a nice guy, but every time I’ve seen him, I’ve found him to be very smart, frank, and honest. I really think he deserves to be reelected.

  11. dan bertolet

    For the record: I did not ghost write this post. I’ll have some things to say about McGinn soon. But this one was written by my bike-geek neighbor Dave, who really exists and has posted before:

    http://hugeasscity.com/2008/06/06/they-call-it-a-city-for-a-reason/

    http://hugeasscity.com/2007/12/28/rethinking-bike-lanes/

    http://hugeasscity.com/2007/12/17/maybe-someone-could-pass-the-word-to-the-spd/

  12. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    Mike rode his bike up to our Farmer’s Market and went around chatting with people. That’s something I can respect.

    By the way, does Nickels or any other candidate have a clue about gang problems either?

  13. Michael

    “The tunnel won’t work.”

    I see this all the time, but the only reason people ever give is their promise that there will be “overruns.” (Which BTW would be a first for a WDOT project.) This is actually one of the best thought-through projects I’ve seen in our half-assed transit plan (thanks to our dear “just say no” voters, after 40 years of trying to get REAL transit all we have to show for it is a train to the airport and a toy streetcar).

    A surface street viaduct “replacement” would about double current travel time through the city, whether by car or bigger multiperson car (bus). Let’s not even mention the trucks. Twice the petroleum fumes; lower gas mileage. Ahhh, saving the Earth.

    When we have REAL, all-weather, dedicated-track transit into the actual neighborhoods our residents live and play in – THEN we can start making plans to kill the roads.

    Until then, anyone trying to compare us to SF or Vancouver or Portland (sorry, Chicago has Lake Shore Drive to go with its impossible-for-Seattle-to-match rail transit) is asking to be laughed at.

  14. Nate

    @ 13

    Michael–

    With all due respect, I see THIS all the time:

    A surface street viaduct “replacement” would about double current travel time through the city, whether by car or bigger multiperson car (bus). Let’s not even mention the trucks. Twice the petroleum fumes; lower gas mileage. Ahhh, saving the Earth.

    The reality? WSDOT, whose transformation from the “Department of Highways” to an agency focused on the mobility of people and goods is incomplete, studied the surface option and found the following:

    Most trips to or through the Center City would have minimal changes in travel time.

    From: AWV I-5/Surface/Transit Hybrid Scenario Fact Sheet

  15. wes kirkman

    “When we have REAL, all-weather, dedicated-track transit into the actual neighborhoods our residents live and play in – THEN we can start making plans to kill the roads.”

    I see that a lot too. However, until we start sacrificing the space, money, and time dedicated to building and maintaining car capacity, we will never be able to build a real transit system that would make us comparable to SF, Vancouver, Portland, etc al.

  16. Michael

    Nate, apparently you didn’t read that document closely enough:

    . Travel times on the SR
    99 corridor through the central waterfront would take five to 10 minutes longer than the bypass
    scenarios and 10 to 15 minutes more than today.

    LOL, that’s even MORE than double the current non rush-hour travel time of about 5 minutes. Thanks for pointing that doc out to me so I can quote it going forward.

    Wes: The reason you see that a lot is because it’s true. Tearing down a road doesn’t make a rail track magically appear, just like high parking rates and severely limited parking-space requirements for residential buildings didn’t do it.

    It might make more condos magically appear, though. :)

  17. Zelbinian

    Michael, I don’t know you, and you may well be a very smart person, but you’re got some seriously faulty logic and bad information.

    a) You pull a nice bit of sleight of hand by comparing current non rush-hour travel time to predicted rush-hour travel time. Nice try, but that’s what we like to call an intellectually dishonest argument.

    b) Speaking of being intellectually dishonest, anyone skilled in mathematics would balk at your ridiculous presentation of those numbers. The word “double” has a nice, emotional appeal to it, but is not the appropriate metric when numbers are sufficiently small. Example: If your corner store closes down and you have to go to the next one, and it now takes you 2 minutes instead of 1 to walk to the store to buy a 6-pack, your travel time just doubled. That doesn’t actually mean the difference is significant in context. I mean, who really gives a flying frak about 10 more minutes? The work on I-90 next week will add way more than 10 minutes to everyone’s commute.

    c) The irony is that the people that *do* give a flying frak about those 10 minutes should also be against the tunnel. Why? Only about 15-20% of trips on the Viaduct – all inclusive to type – are through Seattle. Put another way, you are throwing your support behind a $4.2B+ car-only tunnel, in an age of peak oil and climate change, that only realistically serves the needs of 1/5 of its users (and here, the fractional represenation is appropriate). Srsly dood?

  18. laralou

    I agree with Alexjonlin. I voted for McGinn because he’s an environmentalist, and I respect his work through Great City and the Sierra Club, but he’s answer to the viaduct is unrealistic. Virtually no one has come up with a decent reason to vote against Nickels and I sorely regret my vote. So now we have McGinn against Mallahan. Ugh. I’ll try my hand at McGinn, but I really wish Nickels was in this race.

  19. spencer

    I too will likely vote for Mcginn but absolutely not for his position on the Viaduct. That’s not because I oppose his position it’s just that it’s truly annoying that we will be headed for a third or fourth delay/revote/change-of-mind on this thing. What an absolute waste of time. I wonder if anyone has calculated all the lost value productivity put forth to this issue over the past eight years. I’m nearly certain that has added up to 4.”frakin” billion dollars. If the tunnel gets built we will sooner have a great place to run the west seattle to ballard/fremont train through. If we don’t, and go with surface, we’ll win too. What will sway me to him or Mallahan is his overall platform and how it effects the thousands of other parts to urbanism. Sure this is a blog about urban issues but when has crime, poverty, job-less-ness not been urban issues? Even if Mike chooses not to talk much about other topics can we at least have an honest full bodied discussion on this blog to better convince other people to vote for Mike?

Leave a Reply