Morning Fizz

A Little Oppo Research

By Morning Fizz December 14, 2010

1. Mark one Seattle legislator off the list of representatives who's willing to sponsor legislation to get the infamous "stick-it-to-Seattle" cost overruns language taken out of the tunnel bill: The new kid, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34, W. Seattle, Burien, Vashon).

We asked Fitzgibbon, who made a point on the campaign trail of disagreeing with his predecessor and former boss, now-state Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34) (who voted 'yes' on the overruns provision), if he would sponsor language to undo it. He said:
I still believe that the cost overruns language is unfair to Seattle and doesn't belong in state law, but also that the language is unenforceable, and that my energy this session would be better spent trying to save Metro Transit from the crippling service cuts that are coming. In the unlikely event that the legislature tries to add teeth to the overruns clause, I'll join my seattle colleagues in stopping that.

Attorney General Rob McKenna says the provision is unenforceable and that the legislature would need new legislation to make the provision stand, as opposed to—as Mayor Mike McGinn demands—legislation to take it out.

Fitzgibbon wouldn't say if he'd been approached by McGinn to sponsor any legislation. McGinn is reportedly trying, without much luck, to line someone up.

Fizz's political advice: Try the "Nixon in China" approach. We count 16 state reps, most of them Republicans east of the Cascades, who originally voted 'no' on the overruns provision.

2. At yesterday's noon media availability, Mayor McGinn didn't just talk about the tunnel: He also talked about corporate signs---specifically, the proposal to allow corporate logos above 65 high on as many as a handful of downtown skyscrapers. The council shelved the proposal indefinitely after dozens of residents protested last week, and now plans to take it up early next year, potentially as part of a larger review of the entire sign code.

McGinn said he didn't think such signs or "advertisements are inappropriate in the downtown area." Citing existing law, which allows signs on tall downtown buildings as long as they're for wayfinding (e.g. on hotels), McGinn said, "if it helps a few big companies find their way downtown I'm fine with that too."

3. McGinn refused to give his transportation department a letter grade yesterday on its response to the Thanksgiving week snow (something that got former mayor Greg Nickels in trouble for in 2008). However, he did outline a few changes to the city's snow policy.

The next time it snows, he said the city will: use magnesium chloride instead of sodium chloride (AKA table salt); will put more cameras on "trouble spots" like the viaduct, which froze early; will consider contracting some snow clearing out to private companies; and may use sand as part of its ice-fighting repertoire.

Nickels was blasted in 2008 for using sand instead of salt, which environmentalists have long feared will raise the salinity of the Puget Sound and other local bodies of water.

4. As you know, we're hosting a tunnel debate this Thursday, December 16 at City Hall. (7 PM. Be there as both sides, including McGinn, boo tunnel, and state Sen. Ed Murray, yay tunnel, square off in public for the first time ever.)

And word is, both sides sought out and held pre-debate meetings yesterday with our moderator, KIRO TV's Essex Porter, presumably to suss him out, load him up with questions, and do a little oppo on the other side.
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