Isn't It Weird That ... Former mayor Mike McGinn—whose defining issue as a candidate and during four years in office was "raising questions" about the potential for cost overruns on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement—is sounding remarkably sanguine about major cost overruns on the very first project he proposed as mayor, the new downtown seawall?
McGinn, according to a scoop in yesterday's Seattle Times, asked the city's Department of Transportation to withhold from the city council the fact that the seawall project would actually cost about $330 million, rather than the $290 million allotted in the 2012 ballot initiative, which Seattle voters passed by more than 70 percent. SDOT found out about the overrun last summer, the paper reports, but McGinn reportedly instructed them not to tell anyone on the council. Council members only learned about the overrun after McGinn lost the November election.
Asked about the decision to withhold the overrun information, McGinn's spokesman Aaron Pickus changed the subject back to McGinn's white whale, the tunnel: "We understand why council members Burgess and Rasmussen would like to change the topic from the current status of the deep-bore tunnel," Pickus told the Times. The tunnel-boring machine remains stuck downtown, hung up by an unknown underground obstacle.
Then again, we guess today's revelation isn't really that weird.
McGinn also blindsided the council when he initially proposed funding the seawall replacement with a ballot measure, rolling out a $241 million proposal in 2009, without consulting anyone on the council, in the middle of their annual departmental retreat.
And, as this year's election drew closer, the former mayor showed a similar reluctance to reveal that Gigabit Squared, the company he picked to provide high-speed broadband service in 12 Seattle neighborhoods, was (after an earlier delay) once again unable to deliver.
McGinn turned Gigabit service into a campaign issue, garnering a glowing story in the Washington Post trashing now-Mayor Ed Murray for taking money from Gigabit rival Comcast (we had reported Comcast's Murray donations and the Gigabit context earlier in the campaign), before acknowledging shortly after the election that Gigabit didn't have enough money to make good on its promises in Seattle.
And, in another example of election-year reticence, McGinn initially failed to disclose the actual fate of the guns the city received in an election-year "gun buyback" program, in which, he pledged, guns sold to the city would be melted down into plaques carrying messages of peace. In fact, they were turned into rebar—an embarrassing revelation McGinn tried to explain away by saying he didn't want it to "distract from the program" to take guns off the streets. Eventually, McGinn apologized for misleading the public about the program.