I headed down to Seattle Channel headquarters in the basement of City Hall yesterday afternoon to watch "City Inside/Out" host C.R. Douglas tape his interview David Bricklin, a Seattle environmental attorney who's argued vociferously that the deep-bore tunnel referendum is legal and should go on a citywide ballot.
The show, as we reported yesterday, was originally billed as a debate between Bricklin and city attorney Pete Holmes, who has sued to stop a measure that would repeal three city-state agreements on the tunnel from going to the ballot. But Holmes pulled out of the show late last week, citing unspecified schedule conflicts. Douglas told PubliCola he offered Holmes several alternative times, but that the city attorney "clearly didn't want to" go on the show---leaving Bricklin to make his case without counterargument from the city attorney.
Nonetheless, Bricklin was eloquent, angry ("this is a stupid project") and ultimately---as several observers noted after the show---convincing, laying out and then eviscerating the legal and political arguments against the referendum.
First, Bricklin pointed out that the state has not completed an environmental impact statement on the tunnel, arguing that without an EIS, the city and state can't sign legally binding agreements on the project. "I've never seen government agencies so disparage the EIS process. … [Gov. Chris] Gregoire is an attorney. She knows … that the state can't make an irrevocable decision on this until the EIS is completed. … She [just] wants to create the political momentum" to build the tunnel even if the EIS concludes that another alternative is better, Bricklin (a proponent, unsurprisingly, of the surface/transit/I-5 option) said.
Next, Bricklin argued that even if the agreements are ultimately ruled non-referable by a judge, citizens have a right to vote on them before the case goes to court. "Courts frequently will say, 'You've come to us too soon, the people deserve a chance to vote,'" Bricklin said. "They don't offer up advisory opinions, and until people have had the chance to vote the courts will normal y stay out of this" sort of thing.
Finally, Bricklin accused state transportation planners of simply closing their eyes to facts that show that the surface/transit option is a better alternative than the tunnel. "The DOT's like this," he said, covering his eyes dramatically. "'We won't have to concede that this alternative is any better because we're not looking at it!'"
The whole segment, which will run about half an hour, airs tonnight on Channel 21 at 7:00 and will be available on the Seattle Channel's web site.
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