First, the Weird.
Isn't it Weird that in his latest YouTube ad, Mayor Mike McGinn characterizes the pending Whole Foods street vacation as a "corporate welfare" "giveaway" ?
"They [his mayoral campaign rivals] would have us give city land—your land—away to support a business that doesn't share our values," McGinn says in a YouTube video sent to 500 supporters this week. "My opponents agree with the Seattle Times and the Chamber of Commerce that workers should take a back seat to corporate welfare."
If the city council, which makes street vacation decisions, ends up greenlighting the deal (Erica has calls out to all nine members to see where they are on this hot campaign potato), they would hardly be giving the land away.
Not only would the developers, Weingarten Realty and Lennar Homes, in this case, have to buy the public land in question for fair market value, but they'd also have to spend an estimated additional $2.4 million on public amenities such as a gateway plaza at Fauntleroy and Alaska, a new sidewalk, widened sidewalks, a new bus pullout, art, and planning money for a new city park.
Good on McGinn for raising the issue of livable wages (that's his complaint about Whole Foods), but in light of the facts (and dollar totals ... at the current land value, the developer is already looking at between $775,000 and $1.4 million for the 6,200 square foot alley based on the current market), McGinn loses credibility by saying the city is simply giving the land away.
It's also a disingenuous pitch from a mayor who championed Amazon's new development in South Lake Union—for which the city approved three street vacations. Amazon has been criticized for its treatment of workers—just today, in fact; the non-union company relies heavily on temp and part-time workers who don't receive health care.
I guess, though, there's no hefty union campaign brewing against against Amazon—with promises of checks for McGinn's reelection campaign. The grocery workers' union that's against the Whole Foods is backing McGinn, as is the hotel workers' union, which spent $45,000 on a pro-McGinn mailing; McGinn has said he'll decide whether to oppose the construction of the biggest hotel in Seattle on similar grounds to his Whole Foods opposition.)
We asked McGinn about the Amazon street vacations in South Lake Union and got a "no comment."
As for stopping giveaways, wasn't it the council that recently stepped in and made Vulcan pay more into an affordable housing fund— from McGinn's $15.15 per square foot request to $21.68? McGinn's justification for asking Vulcan to pay less per square foot? Density. Hmmmm. The proposed mixed-use development in West Seattle would replace a parking lot, a gas station, and a funeral home with 370 new residential units in addition to the Whole Foods.
Next, the Jolt
There's even more promising news for opponents of the Cherry Point coal export terminal proposal after yesterday's jolt that the environmental impact statement would take a broad look at the effects of the plan—including everything from local traffic impacts to GHG emissions in Asia.
Today, the Bellingham Herald has the story that the Lummi Nation said the tribe is going to formally come out against the coal export terminal; they've cued up a letter to the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, the federal partner on the project along with the state and Whatcom County. Among the Lummis' complaints: the plan would disrupt tribal fishing.
Here's the really bad implication for the Cherry Point plan: The Lummis' treaty rights give them hefty legal standing. As the Herald puts it, their opposition "could stop the federal permit process for the coal terminal dead in its tracks."
The Lummi, located west of Bellingham, are members of Mayor Mike McGinn's Leadership Alliance Against Coal along with the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes.
The legal ramifications of formal Lummi opposition to the Cherry Point terminal could be huge. I’ll leave it to legal experts to correct me, but this news may wind up being even more significant to Gateway Pacific’s prospects than the broad Environmental Impact Statement scope announced yesterday. After all, a federal EIS process requires a review of the environmental consequences of a permit, but doesn’t necessarily prevent a permit from being issued. Formal tribal opposition, on the other hand, could actually create a huge legal obstacle for the project.
And finally two afternoon Fizz items.
1. The Washington State Republican Party announced today that they will elect a new chair—former KIRO TV reporter and failed King County Executive candidate Susan Hutchison is said to be interested in the top spo—on August 24 at their regularly scheduled state committee meeting; this year, it's in Spokane.
The chair is elected by the 117-member committee made up of representatives from all over the state.
On Monday, Kirby Wilbur, the fromer talk jock who's been chair for just two years, announced he was leaving immediately for a nonprofit job in D.C.
2. I'll be on KING 5 TV tonight at 6:30 talking about the upcoming primary.