City Hall

If McGinn Really Believes the Cost Overruns Provision is Enforceable, He Should Push To Enforce It

By Josh Feit January 5, 2011

In 2010, Mayor Mike McGinn was fond of saying: "All I'm doing is asking the question," referring to his fixation on cost overruns for the deep bore tunnel project.

We hope one of his New Year's resolutions for 2011 is to stop "just asking questions" and start offering solutions.

If McGinn really believes, as he maintains, that the cost overruns provision is enforceable (and he's not  just trying to stop the tunnel, but is in earnest about moving forward), he should love the overruns clause.

The now-infamous clause says: "Any costs in excess of $2.8 billion shall be borne by property owners in the Seattle area who benefit from replacement of the existing viaduct with the deep bore tunnel."

Rather than trying to pass legislation to repeal that godsend (and stall the project), how about pushing for legislation that defines the terms—i.e., rich developers who will benefit beaucoups from a green waterfront will have to pay for it!

That should be a dream provision for a lefty like McGinn: The state is paying nearly $3 billion to open up the waterfront, and on top of that, with the "property owners provision" (as the clause shall now be known), state legislators gave the city the opportunity to soak the rich to finish the job. I always knew Speaker of the House Frank Chopp—who put the clause in the legislation in the first place— was really a populist genius.

What are McGinn and his lefty base waiting for? If McGinn thinks the clause is enforceable, he should totally go for it. Enforce it. (Real Change could run an initiative demanding that the legislature live up to the property owners clause.)

However, if McGinn thinks what I just proposed is total nonsense, and in fact, the property owners clause isn't actually enforceable, then he should stop with the nonsense himself.
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