City Hall

Surprise: McGinn Not Backing Down on Tunnel Opposition

By Erica C. Barnett February 28, 2011

In a brief press conference this afternoon, Mayor Mike McGinn made it clear that he won't back down on his opposition to the deep-bore tunnel, and that he still supports putting the tunnel to a public vote---even if opponents must hire paid signature gatherers to do it.

"What I hear out on the streets and at the town halls is that there's a lot of concern about this project, and frankly, the public has been exclusded from the decision making process," McGinn said. "In a democracy, the voters usually get the last word one way or another."

McGinn said he thought the council should simply put the three agreements it signed with the state to a public referendum. His remarks came at approximately the same time as a resolution by McGinn ally Mike O'Brien was proposing a resolution to do just that. (Predictably, it failed).

Asked whether the use of paid signature gatherers contradicted his claim that the people overwhelmingly oppose the tunnel (and thus could be expected to sign referendum petitions without nudging from hired signature gatherers) McGinn reiterated, "I think the city council should just send the [agreements] to the voters and not put advocates to the expense of gathering signatures." Initiative-reform advocates cite the widespread use of paid signature gatherers, frequently from out of state, as one reason initiative hawkers like Tim Eyman can get just about anything on the ballot.

McGinn also blasted the majority of the city council for what he characterized as their myopia on the tunnel. "They are so much for this tunnel that they've stopped looking at the facts. They're not answering [the question of] who is going to pay, they're not answering [the question of] where the money is going to come from, they're not even waiting for the results of the environmental review," McGinn said.

"It's surprising that they would make decisions without listening to the facts, but I'm not surprised by their vote" to override his veto of the tunnel agreements, McGinn added. "They decided a long time ago that they're not going to let the facts stand in the way of their position" in favor of the tunnel.
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