1. As we reported in yesterday morning's Fizz, the city of Seattle was nervous about Sound Transit's proposed light rail plan through Bellevue because the plan is short about $150 million. A cost-sharing agreement could lock Seattle into picking up some of the bill, which includes a $329 million tunnel that was not part of the original $2.4 billion Eastside route.

Indeed, yesterday's Fizz reported that a Seattle city council staffer sent an anxious email to Sound Transit's Planning Director Ric Ilgenfritz late Wednesday asking if the ST board could hold off on approving the route until funding questions were answered.

However, the board went ahead an approved the route yesterday, 11-2. Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Council Member Larry Phillips, two of Seattle's five members, voted 'No'.

King County Executive Dow Constantine and King County Council Member Joe McDermott voted 'Yes.'  (Seattle City Council Member Richard Conlin wasn't there for the vote.)

The vote formally ends the Eastside feud over the line, which had bitterly divided the Bellevue council for over a year (follow Erica's coverage here.) Disagreeing with Sound Transit's preferred, and now-approved route (which jogs west of the Mercer Slough, heading north through the commercial corridor and near a park and ride), several Bellevue council members had wanted the line, dubbed the B-7 route, to head east—crossing the slough, skipping the commercial and residential core in South Bellevue, and running up along the abandoned BNSF rail line just east of 405.

Sound Transit sent out a victorious press release late yesterday after the vote, which included quotes from Bellevue City Council member Claudia Balduci (who'd been a dissident on the Bellevue Council because she's supported Sound Transit's preferred version all along) and from Constantine.
“Today’s action reflects the City of Bellevue and Sound Transit’s commitment to establish a partnership for a tunnel through downtown Bellevue,” said Sound Transit Board and Bellevue City Council member Claudia Balducci. “A tunnel not only avoids impacts to traffic in downtown Bellevue but provides the best transit service for riders all over the region.”

“I applaud the spirit of compromise and collaboration that led to this landmark decision that will connect urban centers, improve our mobility, and enhance our economic prosperity for generations to come,” said Sound Transit Board member and King County Executive Dow Constantine. “East Link will make commuting easier for thousands of residents and boost the competitiveness of our region in attracting new employers and jobs. This is the vision that voters in Bellevue had in mind when they approved East Link in 2008.”

Mayor McGinn, however, told the Seattle Times: "By making this commitment we're starting with what is a $100 million to $200 million hole. That's if everything works out."[pullquote]“I’m troubled by this alignment choice without a better understanding on a funding plan within our available revenues to get there."—Larry Phillips[/pullquote]

And Phillips told the PI.com: “I’m troubled by this alignment choice without a better understanding on a funding plan within our available revenues to get there."

2. Pioneer Square's community association, Alliance for Pioneer Square, endorsed the pro-tunnel position on Ref. 1 on Wednesday night.

Their resolution states:
“The Alliance for Pioneer Square believes strongly that we cannot restore the historic connection of our neighborhood to the waterfront without significant diversion of many of the thousands of cars now clogging waterfront and neighborhood streets.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project is the State of Washington’s project; it is funded and is already under construction, providing the best opportunity to achieve our goals of reconnecting to the waterfront.

We urge Seattle voters to reject more needless delay and vote Yes on Referendum #1 to keep our economy and our neighborhood on the road to recovery.”

3. Despite the state Public Disclosure Commission's statement that Democratic US Rep. and gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee can transfer $1 million from his congressional campaign surplus fund to the governor's race, Republican Rob McKenna's campaign sent out a fundraising letter calling the move illegal.

Fizz asked McKenna campaign manager Randy Pepple to explain, and Pepple stood by the letter. "If the PDC looks into this further," he said, "they will decide that their advice [to Inslee] was incorrect, and he can't do this."

Pepple says there's a big difference between an informal decision from PDC staff and a formal decision from the PDC commissioners, and he believes the commission will have a different opinion when it reviews all the facts of the transfer.

For starters, he says, federal campaign rules allow larger contributions—$10,000 for political committees and $5000 from individuals—than Washington state, $3200 for both. (True.) That means, Pepple says, Inslee has used higher federal fundraising thresholds to fund his state level campaign.
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