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Mallahan in the Driver's Seat

By Erica C. Barnett September 22, 2009

During his appearance on KUOW's "Weekday" yesterday, mayoral candidate Joe Mallahan confirmed his evolving position on the $200 million Mercer project. Mallahan, who previously opposed the project, now says he would support it if the city can come up with financing, for example, through a Local Improvement District. (The Seattle Times published a front-page story on Mallahan's new position today.)

Mallahan also expressed support for expanding a number of city programs. He did not, however, explain where he would make cuts—except to say, no fewer than seven (!!) times, that he would "drive efficiencies" in city government. (He also said he would "drive big changes," "drive savings," and "drive a culture of accountability.")

Among the departments and programs Mallahan said he would expand:

The library system, which the city shut down for one week this year to save money. "You don't achieve efficiency by stopping service for a week. Our goal should be to keep libraries open throughout the year."

The police department, which Mallahan said he would expand to include more beat officers.

Community centers, which Mallahan said are also supported by private donations and should not be penalized because of inefficiencies in other city departments.

The neighborhoods department, of which Mallahan said: "The role of the Department of Neighborhoods should be to empower all neighborhoods and all neighbors." Mallahan has criticized current mayor Greg Nickels for firing former neighborhood department "rock star" Jim Diers.

Mallahan also said he would slash the existing tax on commercial parking, which he called  "so onerous that people outside of Seattle have chosen not to come here" to shop and eat, which prompted Transportation Choices Coalition policy director Bill LaBorde to update his Facebooks status:
"Did Joe Mallahan really say on the radio that Seattle needs more/cheaper parking so we can be more accommodating to people from the exurbs!?! WTF!?!"

Mallahan also continued to call for eliminating the so-called "head tax," a $25-per-employee tax that funds transportation projects, because it "sends the wrong message" to employers.
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