City Hall

McGinn Outfoxes Council President Conlin

By Josh Feit May 18, 2010

Update by Erica: The irascible Mike McGinn had an unusually calm response to Conlin's blog post, challenging the council president to (what else?) a debate:

“In a blog post today, Richard Conlin put out a number of arguments about why we shouldn’t worry about cost overruns on the tunnel.  I have been expressing my concerns about the risk cost overruns pose for our city.  How Seattle answers this question will have a major impact on our future.  I think it is time that Richard and I air these issues and talk them through in a public forum.  A debate like this between us will give the public a chance to decide for themselves whether or not we should worry about cost overruns.”

Original post:

City Council President Richard Conlin is getting politically sloppy.

On his blog "Making it Work," he played right into Mayor Mike McGinn's hands today, publishing a blog post that puts Conlin in the indefensible position of basically being in favor of cost overruns on the Alaskan Way deep-bore tunnel.
While no one can promise that cost overruns will not occur, they are not ‘inevitable’ as Mayor McGinn has repeatedly suggested.

Conlin's palpable frustration with McGinn over "delay" is understandable and is bound to fire up a bloc of voters in the city who want to build the tunnel, but he's letting his emotion get the best of him, taking McGinn's bait, and setting himself up for a major embarrassment by downplaying the possibility of cost overruns.

And frankly, his argument that delay is the biggest driver of cost overruns (it's wild that a famous obstructionist like Conlin is playing the ditherer card on McGinn) is completely off point.

Conlin concludes: "If Mayor McGinn is truly concerned about cost overruns—and not just cynically using fear to try to derail the project – he ought to publicly announce that he will do everything in his power to keep the project moving."

It's a false choice. It's like telling a Democrat to vote for a Republican in the 2010 primary because a Republican is going to win in November anyway, and so better to support the Republican you want.

McGinn is against the tunnel on principle because he thinks it's reckless to build a freeway as we face a global climate crisis that's caused by CO2 emissions. McGinn's argument against it: This reckless project is also unfair to Seattle taxpayers.

I like his hand—principled stance, budget watchdogging—much better than Conlin's.
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