IIW That

Isn't it weird that ... local political leaders from the city and the county, including council president Sally Clark and county council transportation chair Larry Phillips—along with civic leaders from groups such as the Downtown Seattle Association, Transportation Choices Coalition, the UW, and King County Conservation Voters—are putting the full court press on legislators in Olympia tomorrow by heading to the Capitol to lobby for local transit funding, but neither King County Executive Dow Constantine nor Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn are part of the effort?

A political victory lap while the city's infrastructure is collapsing?

Both Constantine and McGinn are in New York City with Chris Hansen to make the case to the NBA's board of governors that the Sacramento Kings should move to Seattle. (The board votes later this month).

Not a bad excuse at first glance, but given the pressing transit needs that King County Metro Director Kevin Desmond has been articulating this week, it looks a lot like taking a political victory lap as the city's infrastructure is collapsing, when you opt to help a millionaire like Hansen (who's getting $290 million in public loans) close a deal.

McGinn's office defended the mayor's priorities. His spokesman, Aaron Pickus, told us, "there's only one day the NBA is meeting. The legislature has been and will be in session for a while."

Asked if McGinn had any meetings with legislators on the calendar for the rest of the session (scheduled to end on April 28), Pickus said only that they'd be "lobbying more on the issue." (McGinn did sign a letter to legislators and the governor, along with mayors around the state, asking for more transit funding. He also met with legislators and the governor and talked about transit funding, among other issues, early in the session.)

McGinn, who's sending out tweets from NYC, seems to be taking advantage of the NYC trip to go into campaign mode. Filling KIRO radio in on tomorrow's pitch to the NBA, McGinn said simply: "The fact of the matter is Seattle is rocking right now. Our economy is strong, the entertainment industry is strong, people want to be in Seattle." 

Sounds exactly like what candidate McGinn told us when he stopped by our offices with his reelection consultant to make his campaign pitch in February: "This city is rocking right now. I mean, seriously, look, we’re creating jobs faster than anywhere. ... Our nightlife, arts, and culture are rocking."

McGinn's spokesman also told us that Hansen asked the mayor to be there. However, wouldn't the NBA be more impressed if Hansen told the board that the mayor couldn't make it because he was back home fighting for transit? Wouldn't that have sent a more powerful message to the NBA about the kind of city leaders they're hooking up with?

Constantine's spokeswoman Christine Lange explained Constantine's absence from tomorrow's Olympia events this way: 

It's not a question of either-or. Both are issues that require leadership, as do many others. The Executive has worked for months to build coalitions with cities, employers and other transit partners,  and define the risk to Metro service, has traveled repeated to Olympia and met with legislative leaders and the Governor before and during the session to articulate the need for funding.  
We have staff in Olympia every day, and the Executive has been on the phone with and met with political leaders at the state, federal, and local levels to do what he can, and to press them to do what they can, whenever he sees the opportunity. 
The NY meeting is a high profile, one time meeting, where a definite recommendation is expected. Dow will continue to fight for transit funding, every day, not just on lobby day.
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