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Friday, January 28, 2011

The Council's Fancy Footwork on the Tunnel

Posted by on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 12:04 PM

The Seattle City Council, in an attempt to avoid running afoul of environmental laws, will post draft legislation today that would allow it to codify contracts for the deep-bore tunnel without actually approving them, sources tell The Stranger. (This jibes with a rumor I posted earlier this week.)

The council is attempting to advance the city's end of the project next month—approving three memoranda of understanding with the state—without violating the State Environmental Protection Act, which prevents a government from making a decision before impact studies are complete. In this case, the state won't complete an impact study on the tunnel until summer. After that's done, the council intends to finalize the contracts.

This means that a political hot potato remains with the council, which is desperate to end debate on the controversial project before five council election campaign heat up this summer.

The legislation, which is expected to be posted here this afternoon, is reported by sources to make two main points: (1) say the first round of legislation applies through the design phase and that the council intends to revisit the issue when the state reaches its point of decision on the tunnel; (2) state that neither the mayor's signature nor an department head's signature is required to approve the contracts, just the council's vote.

However, the council may be do something clever to prevent a challenge to the contracts, sources say. The final contracts may be approved by resolution—rather than legally binding ordinance—as a means to prevent a mayoral veto or risk a citizen referendum. This power reportedly derives from an interpretation of the Washington Administrative Code as it applies to inter-local agreements.


Comments (12) RSS

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Will in Seattle 1
Which part of Federally listed marine species encroachment, subject to Federal EIS regulations, and lack of funding don't they GET?

City govt can't shut down the required FEDERAL hearings on Particulate and Carbon emissions by the EPA either.

Federal trumps State.

Federal trumps County.

Federal trumps City.

Posted by Will in Seattle on January 28, 2011 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Kinison 2

Needs more "Billionares Tunnel" and fake outrage.

Want a study? Heres one, some fish are going to die. Whats next, you guys going to critique the spelling or grammar? Didnt have the Ts crossed and he I's dotted?

Keep grabing at straws.
Posted by Kinison on January 28, 2011 at 1:19 PM · Report this
What is mind blowing about this is that Council members seem to be racing to sign documents that limit their very ability to protect our city. I have never seen more dysfunctional groupthink. Their primary job is to protect Seattle, and ensure solutions to the ever-growing list of problems caused by the proposed tunnel are resolved -- while there is still time and money. That is what SEPA is for: to make sure decision makers and the public are fully informed of problems, and solutions are identified, before a final decision is made.

Instead of negotiating solutions on behalf of Seattle -- to untenable traffic impacts, protection of Pioneer Square physical infrastructure, a resolution for the 619 Western building, and a viable workaround given the GSA's refusal to permit tunneling under the federal building -- and demanding to see an full accounting of what solutions are funded and what are not, Council members can't wait to hand over their most significant tool of leverage. Apparently so they can spend the rest of the year saying "Sorry, it's out of our hands." It is hard to imagine any of them getting reelected with that gleeful abdication of responsibility.
Posted by Cary Moon on January 28, 2011 at 1:24 PM · Report this
stinkbug 4
Hey Will, the next time you feel like chit chatting with your buddies throughout an entire Link Light Rail Project presentation and q&a, can you take your conversations out into the hallway or perhaps just try to stay silent for more than a minute? Thanks.
Posted by stinkbug on January 28, 2011 at 1:35 PM · Report this
Cary, I think "gleeful" is wrong here - I think having seen as much of you as they have, the council majority actually kind of regrets that they just don't find your warnings credible enough to act as you'd wish. You're a likable, smart person, but they can't agree with you just because they admire you.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 28, 2011 at 1:42 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 6
@2 we smell your fear.

Got a Public Vote of the Citizens yet?

Got Funding?

Didn't think so, comrade.
Posted by Will in Seattle on January 28, 2011 at 1:50 PM · Report this
Such shenanigans drive voters crazy. City initiative to clarify that an interlocal agreement must be approved by a duly enacted ordinance, not a resolution.
Posted by jackseattle on January 28, 2011 at 1:54 PM · Report this
merry 8

Posted by merry on January 28, 2011 at 2:30 PM · Report this
raku 9
It is hard to imagine any of them getting reelected with that gleeful abdication of responsibility.

Cary: I completely agree, but only if good challengers file to run against them.

Hint. Hint. Hint. (Run.)
Posted by raku on January 28, 2011 at 2:43 PM · Report this
D. Tooley 10
The only City elected opinions that have any relevance are Licata's and McGinn's - that's the debate we need to be having.

Someone should get a writ.
Posted by D. Tooley on January 28, 2011 at 4:24 PM · Report this
@2 for the obvious win! Bwahahahaha

Rinse. Cycle. Repeat.

Posted by bwahahaha on January 29, 2011 at 3:12 PM · Report this
tunanator 12
I will never vote again for anyone who supported this disaster-in-the-making at such an economically inoportune time.

This city government has too much in common with Hosni Mubarak.
Posted by tunanator on January 30, 2011 at 3:38 AM · Report this

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