City Hall

Competing Tunnel Measures on August Ballot?

By Erica C. Barnett May 23, 2011

At this morning's city council briefings meeting, council member Nick Licata---a born-again proponent of the deep-bore tunnel---told council president Richard Conlin that he'd be interested in hammering out an alternative ballot measure to run alongside Referendum 1, the anti-tunnel referendum that a King County Superior Court judge ruled Friday must go on the ballot (albeit in truncated form).

In response to a question from council member Mike O'Brien, the council's only tunnel opponent, about whether "additional items" would be coming forward at this afternoon's full council meeting, where the council is scheduled to put the referendum on the ballot, Conlin responded, "There has been discussion of other possible items. I'm not aware of any item ... that's coming forward, but there certainly could be between now and" the full council meeting, Conlin said.

Licata hasn't responded yet to calls for comment, but Conlin tells PubliCola he has proposed "at least two different" "tentative" ideas. Council staffers say those two ideas would likely be: 1) An up-or-down vote on the surface/transit option (which would make surface/transit, tunnel opponents' preferred option, look bad because it polls the worst of any viaduct replacement alternative) or 2) a side-by-side vote on surface/transit and the tunnel, which would have the same effect.

However, it's hard to see where Licata and Conlin get the votes. Other council members, including transportation committee chair Tom Rasmussen, have said they would not support a competing ballot measure. On Friday, Rasmussen---a tunnel proponent---told PubliCola that dueling measures would "confuse the voters."
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