Morning Fizz: "The Unfortunate Reality Is..."
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring O'Brien for mayor?, light rail to Ballard and West Seattle?, and Lady Gaga vs. Speight Jenkins?
1. City council member Mike O'Brien, a close ally and friend of ex-mayor Mike McGinn, wouldn't confirm or deny persistent rumors (typically floated by current mayor Ed Murray's office) that he plans to run against Murray.
Asked the questions directly by Fizz yesterday, O'Brien said he'd heard the rumors too and added simply: "My job [as council member] ends in a year and half so I've got to figure that out first."
O'Brien, along with the rest of the council, has to run for reelection next year; he lives in Fremont, in the newly created Sixth council district.
"I don't have as strong a relationship with this mayor as I did with the last, and that's up to me to work on," O'Brien said, adding that he had lunch with Murray yesterday and "it was a very productive meeting. The issue he wants to prioritize and the issues I want to prioritize line up very well." (Both O'Brien and the mayor are focusing on affordable housing.)
2. Speaking of candid questions: O'Brien, a Sound Transit board member, fielded another popular inquiry this week.
At a city council transportation committee meeting on Tuesday, antsy committee chair Tom Rasmussen asked an ST staffer when he could tell constituents in Ballard or West Seattle that they'd get light rail. (West Seattle, where Rasmussen lives, was likely the true source of his angst. "So, the question I get, say, at Delridge Day, is when will we see light rail in Delridge or West Seattle?").
The staffer deferred to ST board member O'Brien "for any further detail he would like to provide."
Rasmussesn pressed: "What would you say to the people up in Delridge or the Alaska Junction ... or [adding O'Brien's district] in Ballard at 15th and Market?" Rasmussen asked.
O'Brien said: "I think like all of us, we're hearing a lot of demand out there right now for transit and ...I mean the unfortunate reality is the earliest we could have a vote would be 2016, which means that we're not going to see—we're not going to be delivering—the type of transit we want to these communities, for probably at least 10 years from there." He said he'd love to see how ST could shorten the timeline, paused, and said glumly: "I know that the people out there are screaming for it."
"And ... say hello to Lady Gaga."—Tom Rasmussen
O'Brien's only balm: Cue up the options now—ST was presenting several possible routes between downtown and Ballard and West Seattle on Tuesday—"so we're not saying this is a 20-year plan, we're saying this is a 12-year plan."
3. The gloomy discussion did flag one bit of happy news: The recognition by council members that Seattle Center—which came up as a potential light rail stop— is actually a vibrant place right now (something we pointed out last year despite conventional wisdom that it's currently a bust).
"It does seem fundamental that it [light rail] at least stops at Seattle Center," Rasmussen said. "It would be hard for me to understand why we would omit Seattle Center ... given the amount of traffic and density and growing density of that area."
And then this:
Rasmussen: It's an amazing place. Last Friday was Lady Gaga and Speight Jenkins [the retiring director of the Seattle Opera]...
O'Brien: Was it a good show?
Rasmussen: Actually, I went to the opera vs. Lady Gaga. But I will say, the audience at Lady Gaga rivaled the actors on the stage of the opera. It was a tossup to know who was going where.
Jean Godden: They had people flying in from all over to do the goodbye to Speight Jenkins.
Rasmussen: And to say hello to Lady Gaga. But we digress...
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