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Mayor Greg Nickels (wikimedia)

All serious Seattle candidates say they’ll fight for transit, but Mayor Greg Nickels has an especially sterling record on this score.  On the most important issue facing this region — whether or not to build rail — Nickels has been on the right side of the argument, and in the cockpit of many of the key decisions.  As Sound Transit enters another decade of crucial and complex projects, we want his voice to maintain the region’s focus on our ultimate goals.

As Mayor, one’s ability to impact transit operations is limited.  However, Nickels has a solid record of finding ways to make a difference and to deliver.  Through the Bridging the Gap levy, Nickels funded bus lanes, bicycle lanes, and partnered with Metro to get additional bus service outside the 20/40/40 framework.  Nickels also put his political capital on the line for the Streetcar network — one that we support, and one that continues to be controversial.

We’re also pleased with the Mayor’s general willingness to overcome “neighborhood activists” to provide the livable density that is both an environmental imperative and critical to a livable, vibrant city.  In liberal Seattle, associating oneself with the interests of Paul Allen can be risky, but we’re very excited about the path that South Lake Union has taken under the Mayor’s leadership.

Most important, however, is the Mayor’s instrumental leadership of Sound Transit.  As Chair of the Sound Transit Board, Nickels was the critical player in getting Sound Transit 2 on the ballot in 2008, a move that looks even better in hindsight than it did then.  It is his legacy.

That’s not to say that we have no disagreements with Nickels.  In particular, we think he gave in too easily to other interests on both the Waterfront Streetcar and the deep-bore tunnel.  We are especially concerned that enormous expenditure on the tunnel could crowd out the city’s other transportation priorities.  But these concerns are balanced against a long record of leadership and results on our regional priorities.

We should also say a few good words about Mike McGinn.  Mr. McGinn’s passion to build  light rail at all costs is not quite that of Nickels, but his stance on the issues matches ours nearly perfectly.  Indeed, if there were no incumbent in this race, McGinn would be a strong contender for our endorsement.   However, given an incumbent with a strong record on the issues and a history of cutting through Seattle process to achieve results, substantial agreement is not enough to win our endorsement.

Our editorial board is Martin H. Duke, Ben Schiendelman, and John Jensen, with valued input from the rest of the staff. Read our Seattle City Council endorsements and our King County Executive endorsements.  This concludes STB’s series of endorsements.

250 Replies to “Greg Nickels for Mayor”

    1. I guess I can expand on this.

      My main issue with Nickels are that he’s spent enough time in the office, and that I really dislike his management style. He strikes me as the type of politician who tends to tailor his views to the voting audience, rather than presenting himself and his values and arguing why he’s the best person for the job.

      He has shown definitive principle – standing up for environmental regulation (not all of which I agree with such as the bag fee), championing Sound Transit and while I know it’s unpopular among many rail advocates, the tunnel. I LIKE the idea of the tunnel and uniting the waterfront with the downtown area, a vision I’ve dreamed of seeing in the city of my birth as long as I can remember.

      Nickels however has a habit of glad-handing, taking overlymuch credit for things that people like when his role was a small one at best, and his inarguably ham-handed way of dealing with the City Council along with Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis.

      I support Mallahan for Mayor. I have no problem with Mallahan being a friend to business, and think that this city needs a candidate like him. As pointed out in a recent post which appears to have been welcomed by many observers, transit and rail are not right/left issues, and I see Mallahan as an identifiably left of center (without being too far left) candidate that can “bring balance to the force”. Nickels on the other hand has largely become a characature of himself, much like Jim McDermott – who I’d also like to see go.

      My .02, + money for a stamp for my mail-in ballot.

    1. I’d agree with Jeff’s first 3 paragraphs above, but voted for McGinn.

      I am a believer that 8 (years) is enough for public office holders, otherwise they get awfully possessive of the offices and perks to the detriment of Public Service. And, yes, it IS time for Jim McDermott to go, too.

      1. Well I don’t know I’d support term limits, many a congressional representative or Senator only really hits their stride in their second decade in office.

        For example I’m more than happy with Sen. Patty Murray and I’m prepared to send her back to the Senate for another 6 years in 2010.

      2. Seriously? It takes two decades for Congresspeople to actually be effective? That is a sobering statistic.

      3. Well not necessarily, but much of it has to do with the seniority system.

        Especially in the house you have to be there a while before you are expected to do anything other than sit down, shut up, and vote with the leadership.

      4. Any time you get a large group of people together you are going to have politics.

        There are other ways of organizing a legislature but they come with their own flaws. For example without experienced hands in the elected seats the legislative staff ends up running things since they are the only ones who understand the system.

        As for unions, seniority rules exist for a reason. They may not be appropriate to all job classifications or all industries. Even then any union contract was agreed to by the union membership and the management of the unionized workplace in question.

      5. Yes, seniority rules exist in labor unions because historically unions represented unskilled labor (guilds were a separate system for skilled workers). Within a unskilled factory system, there is virtually nothing an individual can do to be more “productive” than the next guy. 100% of productivity comes from the quality of the machines, not the skills of the workers. Thus, there is no need to offer “merit pay”, since merit is relatively unimportant.

        Under such a system, pay differentials almost always represented favoritism on the part of management. Seniority was a way of protecting workers from arbitrary favoritism. One the the key things that would make a worker a “favorite” of management would be opposing the union, thus tying pay, perks and job security to tenure also protected the union itself. Unions are also based on the idea that workers rise or fall together. Merit pay puts workers in competition with each other and undermines the union concept.

        The central factor that makes all of this possible is UNSKILLED labor. Within the context of unskilled labor, seniority makes all sorts of sense. Within the context of skilled labor, management, knowledge work, sales, etc. Seniority makes no sense. When skill is necessary, the individual determines their own productivity. In such a system, a company that can promote and reward its most productive workers, that company would have a competitive advantage. Seniority keeps unproductive workers / leaders in positions far longer than the should be and prevents more qualified, more productive workers / leaders from ever having the chance. The seniority system is a vestige of the past that has no place in the 21st century knowledge economy and it certainly has no place in elected leadership.

        While I am hesitant about term limits, frankly, if you can’t achieve significant results in 10 years, you’re a lousy politician.

  1. I agree with Nickels as choice; I was wondering what this endorsement would bring. In the past year, I’ve come to appreciate him as our mayor. As a huge accomplishment apart from transit, I think it’s worth mentioning the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a.k.a. “Kyoto for Cities,” which Nickels launched in a time when the U.S. administration was pretty hostile to the Kyoto Protocol. Also, climate change is not completely separate from transit as an issue.

    As for the issues that people have a hard time with Nickels’ stances on, I can identify the tunnel as a huge one, obviously, which is a sensible thing to oppose though I personally think it’s not such a bad idea. Also, there’s the running roughshod over process, which I think is an issue whose time has come in its own right to discuss: do we need it? Danny Westneat had what I thought was a good column on it after Link opened.

  2. I voted for McGinn in the primary. I may come back to Nickels in the general, especially if he either moderates on the tunnel or gives me an explanation of why it isn’t such a bad idea.

    1. I think he has already given you his reasons for why it’s not a bad idea. Besides, the city wont be responsible for cost overruns. That part of the legally binding contract is unenforceable, and I know that the city can waste millions of dollars to make sure we cant be responsible for it.

      1. So . . . if no one’s gonna take responsibility for cost overruns . . . that means it’s probably dead in the water. This one ain’t gettin’ built unless the Governor has a fall guy.

  3. The longer politicians are in power the more entrenched and corrupt they usually become. We have a great candidate in McGinn, I would vote for him if I could.

    1. Although, the shorter politicians are in power, the fewer things get accomplished. Most of Obamas big infastructure plans will take 4-7 years to even be ready for construction. If hes kicked out of office in 2012, you can kiss those projects good bye. Its hard to be an effective leader in a short period of time. Look at Paul Schell. He didn’t do jack in 4 years. In nearly 8 years, Nickles has been able to deliever a substantial amount on the transit end.

      1. 8 years is not a short amount of time. 8 years is plenty of time to get things done. We have seen enough of what Greg has to offer this city. Lets get McGinn in there and see everything that he can do. This is a century of change and new beginnings, Nickels and Mallahan represent the politics of the 20th century.

  4. Yes, I too am voting for Greg, again, but I have to comment on the dilemma he faces this time around. It’s really of his own making. Yes, we want a strong mayor who gets things done, but the iron fist needs to be wrapped in a velvet glove. Too often, all the average voters sees is the fist; his my way or the highway mantra.

    And he’s been ill served by some of his executive appointees (name of which shall go unmentioned for now, but should he survive in November, several should be shown the door). And ill served by lower level folk too. For example, the neighborhood service center managers should be part of the mayor’s eyes and ears in the neighborhoods, but instead they are mere figurehead representatives of City Hall; overpaid customer service representatives.

    For all he’s done for transit, Greg certainly deserves to be re-elected, but I’ve been around too long to be confident, at this moment.

  5. Ummm, no. Swing and a miss.

    There is no dispute that Nickels is a driving force behind Sound Transit, and he should continue in that capacity – it’s his strong suit. However, he is less than ideal as mayor, and some of his policies, I feel, have hurt the city. I voted for Mallahan in the primary.

    1. What is it you like about Mallahan? I have yet to hear anything substantive from his supporters.

      1. He is pro-business, pro-transit, and pro-infrastructure (this means not simply declaring roads and internal combustion engines to be the Root of All Evil and letting them fall apart while focusing entirely on rail). He addresses the complex issues that the city faces – from crime to education, to transportation to parks and recreation.

        He supports building and supporting the economic, physical, residential and recreational aspects of the city and doing so in ways that are economically responsible AND forward-thinking.

        Nickels and McGinn seem to be playing to two basic issues: environment and transportation. Period. Both candidates appear (to me) to be playing to what has the blood of a core group of local activists boiling with much less vision and “big picture” reasoning driving their campaigns. They seem to be plying for votes rather than really planning for the future of this city. I see a very different approach and comprehensive vision from Mallahan.

      2. It sounds like he has the same rhetoric as any other candidate, but absolutely zero experience in public office or working in the community.

      3. It sounds like he has the same rhetoric as any other candidate, but absolutely zero experience in public office or working in the community.

        If those are factors that you feel disqualify him to be mayor, then I can certainly understand your not wanting to support him as a candidate. I too would like to have seen more in the way of community service from the man. On the other hand – Nickels is a career politician, and I see Mallahan as bringing some much needed business sense to City Hall while not dumping the concepts of compassion and community development.

        At this point, I am profoundly uninterested in seeing Nickels continue on as Mayor, and McGinn strikes me as a bit of a blowhard – much in the way that Nickels is without the restraint.

        He is also the leading choice among Seattle Republicans, I believe because of his anti-tunnel stance and general projection of the word and concept of “NO” in regards to use of tax dollars for community and infrastructure development.

        Certainly your mileage may vary, and I sincerely respect the reasons why that might be the case.

      4. I fully suspect a Mallahan administration would end up about as successful as Paul Schell’s. I may be leaning to McGinn right now, but should it end up with Mallahan vs. Nickels in the general I’ll vote for Nickels.

      5. Nickels is trying to get people out of their cars and into transit, but that doesn’t mean he’s neglecting the roads. He has gotten a huge number of potholes filled and bad streets repaved over the course of his term in office, and his Bridging the Gap levy did a lot for the roads. He’s definitely not letting them fall apart.

    2. I won’t say that I don’t like some of his positions, but my two main problems with Mallahan are:

      – His answers for nearly everything seem to be as generic as he can get away with. Most of the time he touts his managerial experience as a catch-all, but you can’t make good managerial decisions without domain knowledge. He seems to lack that.

      – Related to his lack of domain knowledge is his lack of public policy credentials. Seems like he hasn’t really been involved in Seattle politics until the giant sucking sound started in the Mayor’s chair.

      So, while I agree with some of his ideas, none of the ideas I agree with are represented by him alone, and he reeks of political opportunism. He may indeed be genuine, but I just can’t trust that he is.

  6. Well, Nickels is better than Mallahan. I’m going McGinn first, but Nickels a very VERY close second.

    Mallahan is one of those fantastic creatures that comes along once in a while that makes people talk out the side of their heads. “Oh, Nickels is in the pocket of big business!” the harpies shriek, “McGinn lives off their green-washed grants!” — ignoring, of course, that Mallahan IS big business.

    1. That’s your opinion, AJ, and you’re entitled to it. I’m willing to give Mallahan a chance, as I think it is time to clean house. McGinn on the other hand, is a candidate with a puffed resume who is good at saying “no” to things, but falls short on actual leadership.

      1. McGinn was a major player in getting the Parks levy passed last year as well as getting Prop 1 voted down 2007. He is a man with true vision and the know how to see it happen. He will be our next mayor and Seattle will become a great city because of it!

      2. As a native-born type, I will have to say that Seattle is already a great city.

        I would also argue that not sharing a particular vision doesn’t mean that someone *lacks* vision.

      3. You are correct, but i would contend that certain mayors of alleged big cities are lack their own sense of vision. Or at least, thats the way they are governing.

      4. What is McGinn’s vision for enhancement of transportation infrastructure in Seattle? Sorry I couldn’t get to the meetup and I did get some sniglets there – but are there some bullet points other than the idea that free parking shouldn’t be considered an endangered species and no tunnel replacement for the viaduct?

        My sense (probably incomplete to be sure) is that McGinn’s main approach is obstructionism, and in that regard he reminds me of some of the current batch of folks opposing things like healthcare reform. I’m sure that’s not really a fair comparison – but it is the general impression that I’m left with, and again – the man is the #1 choice of area Republicans surveyed.

      5. I agree with Jeff. McGinn is a whole lot better at being against something (viaduct, roads and transit, etc.) than he is at being for something. If “Parks Levy” is your only positive victory, you’re not ready to be mayor.

      6. Umm…McGinn led a group that supported the levy. That’s quite different from someone like Councilmen Conlin and Burgess, who stood up to the mayor to actually get the Parks Levy on the ballot.

        Again, resume puffing.

      7. Mallahan keeps referring to street cars as “toy streetcars” – check it out:

        Mallahan said, “Rather than give priority to Metro, Mayor Nickels has been off building toy streetcars that are redundant to, and cost more to operate than, buses, and pursuing an agenda that emphasizes glitz and glamour over delivering basic services.”

        Here is the link:

      8. Good for Mallahan. Really it should be “streetcar” (as in the Lake Union Streetcar). I’d still very much like to see the Waterfront Streetcar return as there’s nothing wrong with a toy as both tourist attraction and useful transportation. The Lake Union streetcar is neither in any effective sense.

      9. According to Publicola Mallahan even disagrees with himself on streetcars.
        He called the South Lake Union streetcar “a $50 million toy.” But in an earlier interview Mallahan told Publicola he thought the trolley was a good idea.

        The bottom line is that we cannot trust Mallahan because we haven’t a clue what he really stands for. All we have to go on is his TV commercial sound bites, his poor voting record and participation in his children’s private school fundraiser Wurstfest.

      10. Becky,

        What “trolley” did he think was a good idea? Perhaps not all “toy streetcars” are equal.

        For example: I believe that the South Lake Union line is a colossal waste of money – a boondoggle and an abomination in public policy. On the other hand, the waterfront streetcar serves many businesses and has a history and charm that a tourist attraction should have. I also have a personal bias and history with the waterfront streetcar. My Grandfather used to drive it and let me ride up front once and ring the bell. That was cool. I also got to meet George Benson, who out of the blue got on one day when I was riding with my grandfather.

        The waterfront streetcar has/had the ability to bring the kind of tears to the eyes of local folk reminiscent of mentions of J.P. Patches. The Lake Union trolley is a pain in the wallet and a giant mouse-trap for bicycle tires.

        In short – one diverts legitimate transportation resources and the other would be a valued (re) addition to the community. If this is the comparison that Mallahan was making – I see no contradiction.

      11. Jeff, the SLUT carries more people than the waterfront streetcar ever did, and as Amazon and Gates open up, that will only be more true.

        Extending up to Fremont would create a strong connection between two tech employment centers.

      12. Don’t forget the continuation onto Ballard. As I’ve stated before, there is no longer any direct transit connection between Ballard and Fremont business districts. There WAS one, one of those jitneys Metro bought a few years ago. People clamored for it, and after they got it, did not patronize it and it was cancelled. Way to go! I think now though, such a streetcar line would be very well utilized.

      13. So in reality, the SLUT is a catalyst for a city wide network of streetcars. Its funny because I too thought it was senseless to have such an amenity for a community that did not yet exist. But then I thought about how ridiculous i thought the city i grew up in was when they would allow thousands of homes to be built and not a single school or park. Those were all after thoughts. It seems to me that the SLUT is rather brilliant. The infrastructure is preceding the need. They are bighting it in the butt, making it a great community before it really is a community. SLU will be amazing one day.

        This is the very kind of vision that McGinn shows us. He sees things as what they should be for the future, not what our current needs are. If we are always looking to meet our current needs than that is all we ever can meet. Never anticipating what the need will be in the future, always trying to catch up with what we have put ourselves into.

      14. I know that some folks love the idea of streetcars (after all – trains are NEATO!) but you’ll not make a convert out of me. Too expensive, inefficient, and inflexible.

        There’s a REASON this city abandoned rail decades ago, folks.

        Flame away.

      15. Jeff, you’re not getting ‘flamed’, I just don’t think you understand the reason. We didn’t abandon rail because it was bad, we abandoned it because the alternatives were receiving heavy subsidy. It’s still cheaper.

      16. I support the SLUT and don’t have a problem with Mallahan’s characterization of it. It is somewhat of a toy until it actually goes somewhere. I think that is all he means, and frankly, he’s correct.

        Yes, we need to start somewhere, but let’s get aggressive about expanding it, like the Portland system, instead of just talking about.

        Expand the line up Eastlake to UW, then up Brooklyn to Ravenna and have it turn around at Greenlake. You’d get a ton of people to ride that and you could link it with the light rail station at 45th/Brooklyn.

        Expand a second line up Westlake, then to Fremont and to the Zoo. It could later be expanded up Phinney Ridge to Greenwood. The Zoo would be a draw for tourists who stay downtown.

        Expand a third line up Westlake, and up Leary to Ballard.

        Once you start doing stuff like this, it will no longer be a toy train.

      17. The mayor is advocating for all of the streetcar lines that you propose. Not Mallahan, not McGinn. He’s the one who got the ball rolling on streetcars and advocated for the streetcar master plan. If you want those lines built, vote for Nickels. He’s the one with the muscle to get it done, the other two will spend their first 4 years figuring out how to be a politician while all of their plans sit on their desk.

      18. To Lightning:
        Once again, have you seen the 46 schedule? All day service between downtown Ballard and downtown Fremont on weekdays.

      19. Yes, thanks. I did look up the 46. It does run to Fremont center mid-day, you are correct, but not on weekends. A streetcar would of course run more frequently and on weekends.

      20. Who says a streetcar would necessarily run on weekends?

        Who says a streetcar would run more frequently?

        Who says buses can’t?

        Are streetcars made of magic?

      21. Are streetcars made of magic?

        Actually they are in at least two key factors:
        1. Choice riders strongly prefer rail. Any number of studies have shown this again and again. We have an example here in Seattle where the free 99 bus gets hardly any riders but the pay waterfront streetcar was full during daylight hours in the summer.
        2. Rail spurs development in ways bus lines, even BRT and trolley buses, don’t.

        There is also the ability of rail to carry more passengers per operator. Generally rail also tends to “bunch” less when operating on short headways. Rail vehicles last 3 to 4 times as long as buses (yes even trolley buses).

      22. the free 99 bus gets hardly any riders but the pay waterfront streetcar was full during daylight hours in the summer

        Unfair comparison, as the waterfront streetcar was a tourist attraction and destination all its own. I support bringing it back, but as just that, and a way to get down the waterfront to other tourist attractiongs. If you want to import a few century old Aussie streetcars to go from Ballard to Fremont in a simliar vein I’ll listen, but I can’t buy the argument that having a streetcar line to replace the 46 or other flexible road-based bus or trolley bus lines makes good economic or practical sense.

        At any rate, I think the “buses don’t run on Saturday but streetcars do” argument is pretty well toast.

      23. It is true riding the Waterfront streetcar was an end in itself whereas I don’t think many are looking to ride the 99 bus because it’s got a fancy wrap on it.

        However this is beside the point. Via any number of real-world examples as well as a number of studies it has been shown choice riders prefer rail. You can tart up the bus all you want but at the end of the day it is nothing more than a fancy bus.

        Similarly rail attracts development in ways bus lines don’t. Even electric trolleybuses don’t spur development in the same way as rail does. The Ballard to Fremont corridor is prime for some Pearl District like TOD.

      24. Sorry, I don’t buy it.

        Mallahan has experience running a business with thousands of employees; that counts for something.

        I think it would do Seattle a bit of good to have someone from outside the political establishment (who leans left, no less) come in and shake things up a bit.

      25. It’s fine that he’s from outside the political establishment. But, he should at least have a record of civic engagement – involvement with a school bond campaign, leading a neighborhood council, working on his neighborhood plan, organizing neighbors to keep something bad from getting built, or getting something good built, etc., etc. Something, anything. Just because you have a lot of money, even if you also have good ideas, doesn’t make you qualified to run a government.

  7. I personally wish Seattle had a more hard-ass mayor like Chicago’s Daley. Stuff would get done. Few questions asked, and no 10-year process of triple guessing ourselves. Nickles is a great, hard-ass leader in a city that likes to be too nice and friendly. People don’t like his style because its too mean. But honestly, if he was too nice, nothing would ever get done.

    It’s not Nickles fault the Sonics left town. NBA is a private enterprise and Bennett wanted to move since it was his team. And nobody wanted to pay for another new stadium. It’s not Nickles fault the roads didn’t get plowed. Who on earth wants to pay for 100-200 snow plows when they will be used once every 5 year? And if the city did get more plows, they would be reemed for not being responsible. It’s not Nickles fault the Viaduct will never be replaced. Citizens can’t make up their dang mind on what they want, nor can the state, nor can the governor, nor can the port, nor can local businesses, nor can residents around the Viaduct. It’s not Nickles fault 520 will never be replaced. See above.

    1. Since you prefer a hard-ass mayor, I’ll take that as an invitation to be a hard-ass blog troll.

      First off the mayor’s last name is spelled Nickels, you won’t find “Nickles” on your ballot.

      Well before Clay Bennet purchased the Sonics the council and mayor approved the sale of property adjacent to Seattle Center which the team used for their practice facility to the Gates Foundation for their headquarters. If the electeds really wanted the team to remain local they could have been more patient before kicking them out. Perhaps not a kiss of death, but one typically doesn’t allow an asset to diminish in value if you’re trying to attact buyers.

      Most well reasoned complaints against the city’s response to snow removal was not the availability of the snowplows but the manner and effectiveness in which they were deployed. Major arterials were impassable for days. At the very least in a city of many steep hills and so few public safety vehicles with 4wd this should be unacceptable to all of us. The next SDOT dept head will receive a framed photo of that charter bus hanging over I-5 for their new office.

      1. Well, regarding the Sonics, you have to realize what kind of person Clay is. He tried to steal the San Antonio Spurs and would have succeeded were it not for the pretty strong machine that exists outside of the local government of San Antonio.

        The Sonics were just made into an easy target, and that was probably a complete accident.

      2. I’d imagine the Gates Foundation is a better use of downtown space than a sports team.

      3. I’m a fan of the SLUT (I just wish it went somewhere), but the streetcar doesn’t even come close to serving the new Gates Foundation campus. I think it is disingenuous to claim that is a reason the Foundation located by Seattle Center.

      4. Five blocks? And the short way, not the long way, so it’s really more like 3-4 “big” blocks. I think Gates Foundation is there as a secondary effect – the other new development around the streetcar brought them.

      5. Eh I don’t think the Gates Foundation is related to the Streetcar, it’s a little ways away, across Aurora. However, that is going to be really great for the Seattle Center neighborhood, to bring hundreds (thousands?) of employees to that area.

      6. The main reason they chose to locate there is to be close to all of the public health research institutes in SLU, the Hutch, SBRI, IDRI and the UW’s new research center. Their current building is on Eastlake near Fairview, but they’ve already outgrown it and there’s no room to expand. I’m looking forward to seeing their new campus, it looks pretty cool.

    2. I’ll agree on the Sonics, the only way Bennett wasn’t going to move the team was if we gave him so many taxpayer goodies he would have had to be stupid to move the team. Even building him a state of the art arena and some parking garages then turning the whole complex over to him for free would likely have not been enough.

      As for plowing the streets I think the city did a piss-poor job, other parts of the region got just as much snow yet other cities and the county road departments were able to clear the roads much more effectively in their jurisdictions.

    1. I’d venture that he’s done more to get rail built in this city than all previous mayors put together.

      But sure, “Mayor Gridlock.”

    2. WELL, considering how the city has grown in the last decade, and roads haven’t (people voted a big fat NO on new roads in 2007), yes Mayor Gridlock would make sense…

      HEY, maybe if we the voter supported the construction of some new roads to improve really bad spots, which we don’t, then gridlock would improve. But NAH, lets blame the Mayor whose trying to give citizens mass transit!

      1. More roads = more girdlock. And how would voting on something in 2007 really make a difference for what the city is on this very day?

      2. “Mayor Gridlock” is a term developed during the monorail campaign has little to do with reality.

      3. What new roads, exactly, has Seattle gotten? If anything, we’ve gotten more bulbs.

    3. Ah, you mean the guy who got us ST2 and Bridging the Gap? Yes, I guess he’s Mayor Gridlock. Never mind that population growth.

      1. The ST@ that he wanted was more highways and less transit. This guy is a hack and a giant PR stunt. Seattle needs to be more than publicity. I move to this town with the idea that it was the most progressive city in the country, little did I know that image was congered up by the chamber of commerce.

      2. Joe, seriously, what on earth are you talking about? The legislature wedded ST to RTID – the mayor opposed that.

      3. I’m not sure what I was thinking. I was getting caught up in the moment. I stand corrected.

      4. I dislike that he and the city council are now trying to kneecap Bridging the Gap by discussing repealing the Head Tax. McGinn is definitely right on about that being a BS non-issue.

      5. I agree that the head tax should stay, but if they replace it with another funding source, I’m okay with that as well.

      6. The head tax is mostly okay. A tiny city income tax would be a better (more progressive) idea but is both forbidden by the state constitutional and likely political suicide.

      7. I agree with both of you, but Ben, they’d have to show me the other source of funding first before I’d agree with it. Also, this is so not a suitable election year issue. It’s great for knee-jerk pro-business rhetoric, but not much else.

      8. Zelbinian – I really see the head tax as entirely political – I suspect it was done originally as a way to have something to “give” to businesses.

  8. I think TBlog missed the mark here. Nickels is going to make it thru the primary, but whoever comes in second has a huge advantage going toward the general.

    Obviously for transit we need that person to be McGinn who actually fights for and uses transit. He understands what’s at stake. Not Mallahan who hasn’t done anything ever for transit. Or for Seattle for that matter.

    Don’t be fooled by TV sound bites.

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure that Nickels will make it. Mallahan and McGinn have a lot of momentum.

      I agree that Nickels-McGinn would be the best possible general election matchup for transit advocates, but the race is probably too close to vote tactically if you believe, as we do, that Nickels is the best candidate.

      1. Yeah Charles T. Royer was the only three-term mayor, from 1978~1989. He was largely credited with turning seattle around from the boeing slump that nearly destroyed the area in the 1960s and 1970s. On the transit side, he was instrumental in building the bus tunnel.

  9. McGinn?

    Seriously? No, really. Seriously?

    “Vote your hopes and dreams” doesn’t hack it for a big city mayor.

    Mayor of Fremont. Maybe.

      1. So true. Last November, Seattleites (and most Americans) were focused on the future, hopes, dreams, plans… It shouldn’t change for this election. I think we should be selecting our political leadership based on the vision and goals of we want to see–not just what we have seen.

  10. I think Greg Nickels needs to take a break and do something else. I appreciate his work on Sound Transit, and I agree with the need for density, but to do it well, we need leadership which can work with the powerful developers while insisting on excellent design and planning. Nickels has supported dense development without insisting on excellence and without innovative planning. It could have been worse, but it could have been so much better. I’m still mulling my alternative choices, but I won’t support Nickels again.

    1. “Without insisting on excellence” – what would you have him do that he hasn’t done?

    2. He’s been really weak on affordable housing, which with transportation are the two overwhelming and intractable issues in Seattle. We need someone who can and will get the legislature to allow us to implement inclusionary zoning. More tax breaks for developers are not the answer.

      And opposing the parks levy last fall? WTF?

      1. Darn right. The answer is to change Seattle building codes so that developers can build density without off-street parking. That solves both problems.

      2. From what I hear, the DPD is really poorly set up, funding wise. The majority of their funds come from developer contract fees. So downtimes like now, while being a perfect opportunity to revise zoning and building codes, are paradoxically when the DPD doesn’t have any money to do that kind of thing.

        Of course, I’ve mostly found all this out from reading various local blogs, so I may be wrong. But that’s what I’ve gathered.

    1. If that’s your complaint, you should look before you attack. The plan’s already on the books.

      1. Nice save, Ben. I’m used to being the only one to catch that. Nice to have backup. :)

    2. More like the next Judy Nicastro. Or David Della. Lots of opinions…little accomplishment.

      But, then again, the people who are mad at Nickels dislike him because of what he has accomplished. This flies in the face of the Schell / Locke / Gregoire / Chopp / McDermott model, where you don’t ruffle any feathers…so people “like” you. Only once has the do-nothing model failed. And that was with Schell. Who did nothing when Mardi Gras happened. Otherwise, vague liberalism has been the trusted strategy around here.

      If you actually accomplish something, as Nickels has, you’re almost guaranteed to have half the city hate your guts.

  11. Everyone giving up so soon. I don’t understand how any one could claim to be an advocate for transit and then say to vote for nickels. This is the mayor that wanted our region to vote on a ballot measure that would have added roads roads and more roads.

    He didn’t give in on the deep bore tunnel he birthed the tunnel, and now he feeding it his cruel cruel milk. And trying to feed it to all of Seattlites that will have to pay for it long after he’s gone.

    1. The mayor didn’t really have a say in Roads and Transit – that was the legislature. The mayor brought back only transit, himself, the next year.

      1. Ben, I certainly don’t recall Nickels saying to Vote No on Roads+Transit, and we’d bring something back the following year.

        I do, however, recall those of us in the transit and enviro communities who did — Mike O’Brien and Mike Mcginn being key public figures in that — despite the resistance from people in our own community like TCC.

      2. Mickymse has it right. Nickels was a loud, strong and clear proponent of Roads and Transit — and not just the transit part, he was for the roads too.

      3. You are mistaken on this point and that’s totally inaccurate. I worked hard on that Campaign and Nickels was not a vocal roads proponent.

        Immediately after that vote Nickels was pushing for a transit-only vote.

      4. Andrew’s exactly right here. Nickels maintained his relationship with the Governor (he didn’t know if he’d get another opportunity for light rail), but pushed immediately for transit-only.

      5. Also keep in mind: the Sierra Club – led by McGinn and O’Brien – was just as critical (if not more so) of R&T’s light rail component R&T as they were of the roads component in 2007.

        Indeed, if you go back to look at the famous drowning Polar Bear mail piece, the most critical remarks were saved for light rail. The Sierra Club bought into the phoney Bus Rapid Transit + bikes scam a long time ago. Little do they know, the entire racket has been engineered by petroleum dollars. Oh, the irony….

      6. The Mayor didn’t say “no” to Roads and Transit. But, he didn’t campaign for it.

        Ironically, the only mail piece which included him was put out by the mainstream enviro coalition endorsing all that light rail in Prop 1 v. 1….all the local green orgs, except the Sierra Club.

    2. I think you’re being a bit unfair on the tunnel issue. The bottom line for Nickels was getting rid of the elevated highway on the waterfront rather than have the state plop some new elevated monstrosity down. The initial renderings from WSDOT for a replacement highway were truly hideous BTW. If anything the Mayor deserves some credit for saying “NO!” to another viaduct. It may have stalled a final resolution, but it also didn’t allow a new freeway to be the central feature of the waterfront for another 50 years.

      1. I have to go along with that one.

        Again as a a Seattle born native, I’ve always dreamed of getting rid of that damned viaduct. It’s noisy, it smells, it creates a 3-mile long shadow and it cuts off what could be a truly blossoming waterfront from the rest of the downtown area. Big up to Nickels for sticking to his guns on a no new viaduct option. I only wish that the bored tunnel option had been his vision from the get-go. He might not have gotten so much resistance, as so much was generated by concern about having to re-route traffic while the viaduct was being torn down and rebuilt.

      2. Getting rid of the viaduct and replacing it with a surface street isn’t going to result in a blossoming waterfront. The condo owners looking over the surface street are a big winner. Sports fans getting to ball games break even. I’m not seeing any sort of comprehensive plan that justifies the billion dollar a mile cost of this underground four lane street. Let’s see, no mass transit, loss in terms of freight and commercial traffic, break even for SOV use. Same old waterfront with new major arterial instead of parking. Sounds like a “political solution” that buys off just enough of the demographic (and campaign support) to get re-elected.

      3. Also, I’m sure that Nickels was the one who made sure transit was included in the whole tunnel plan.

  12. I think this article missed a large benefit to keeping Nickels as mayor. He has a national reach and reputation. He’s the president of the US Conference of Mayors. He has the president’s ear with regard to city issues. This is something that no other candidate can offer, and can give Seattle a huge national advantage.

    1. And don’t forget the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, which has a third of U.S. citizens basically living under the terms of the Kyoto Protocol.

  13. I agree that the best thing for a real transit discussion in the general would be for McGinn & Nickels to win the primary. But Nickels socking us with the tunnel is going to make it pretty tough to find money for transit and without money for more transit, it will be impossible for Seattle to meet Kyoto.

    I’d be much more grateful to Nickels if he had been in Olympia fighting for transit this last year instead of making a bad deal for a car tunnel that forces Seattle to pay the cost overruns, which according to Oxford Professor Flyvbjerg’s research will be at least 30% of the 4.24 billion dollar project.

    1. It’s pretty likely Seattle can’t actually be forced to pay for overruns.

      But until there’s strong public opposition to the tunnel (how about a ballot measure from someone other than Campbell?), it’s up to us.

      It’s like Obama said during his campaign – it isn’t him that can make things change, it’s we who have to force him. This is the same.

  14. Oh and for “Cynical” the FCC Chair touts Broadband as a top priority – so there. Click the link and learn something:

    Here is an excerpt:
    The Federal Communications Commission’s top “strategic” priority will be to encourage greater availability and adoption of broadband Internet access, the agency’s new chairman, Julius Genachowski, said in a meeting Monday with editors and reporters at the Mercury News.

    The agency is still studying the issue and examining the best ways to implement the new “national broadband plan,” he said. But the effort is an attempt to address the situation he inherited, where, thanks to the policies “adopted over the last decade,” the United States is falling behind other countries.

    “There should have been a national broadband plan years ago,” he said. “There wasn’t.”

  15. I agree with the Nickels endorsement. He’s accomplished in eight years what others have only talked about. We have light rail and a streetcar, and both are expanding. We have a plan for the viaduct and are closing in on a plan for 520, both of which have been political stalemates for a decade. Everyone might not like the plans, but we have plans, which in this city is nothing short of a miracle. Unfortunately the cost of living in a society is that you can’t have things your way 100% of the time. I think Nickels has done a good job of navigating the difficult Seattle political climate to get things done. Do I agree with every decision he’s made? Of course not. But I think Seattle is finally moving in a positive direction and Nickels has been willing to put his neck on the line to make it happen. I think he should keep it going.

  16. I applaud the STB for this editorial decision and am pleased too that you only endorsed one candidate this time (and the right one) unlike your split endorsement for County Executive, a decision which still puzzles me somewhat. Splitting your decision in that race between Mr. Phillips and Mr. Constantine risks letting an ill-qualified third person slip in behind the two if everyone followed your lead and endorsed one or other of the leading Democrat run runners. Let’s face it, Susan Hutchinson is probably going to advance as one candidate to the general election and so that leaves the space for the other slot to go to a slate of other candidates. I would have preferred to see a strong endorsement of Mr. Phillips for County Executive so that as mostly Democrats on this Blog, we can cohere around one candidate.

    Greg Nickels for Mayor is definitely the best choice to represent the whole of Seattle and I do believe that his heart and decision making is in the right place. He has been phenomenally strong on mass transit and his continued voice on the Sound Transit board for the next four years will be important as we ramp up for ST2, build more streetcars and begin the process of constructing a tunnel.

    Clearly the Blog wants to continue to discuss the tunnel and my two cents at this point are that further discussing an already made decision should be mute at this point and serves only to feed the interminable Seattle process that we all love to hate. Democracy is not always best served by having one issue candidates like Mike McGinn because running a city the size of Seattle is about more than one issue needing attention. Let’s use our vigilance and voting power to discuss and vote on priciples uch as roads v. transit and not decisions such as a tunnel vs. a waterfront replacement road with multiple stop lights etc. Principles refer to the direction we want to move towards as a community and the guides to help us get there. The tunnel is a decision that three representatives all elected to positions of leadership have come to an agreement on and should not be confused as a principle needing a vote. As Andrew said in an earlier post on poles in the Beacon Hill area, sometimes you have to ‘don’t ask, just do’.

    1. Clearly the Blog wants to continue to discuss the tunnel and my two cents at this point are that further discussing an already made decision should be mute at this point and serves only to feed the interminable Seattle process that we all love to hate.

      Sorry, but that is hardly the case. I can’t really call it an “already made decision” when:
      1. There is no funding in place for the full amount of the project budget.
      2. Engineering is only 2% complete, there is no real clear idea of either costs or potential geological problems.
      3. The EIS process hasn’t even started. One of the points of SEPA and NEPA is to take public input as to the alternatives available, their impacts, and mitigation strategies.

      1. If McGinn wins, or even makes it to the general, the common wisdom will simply change change on this issue.

  17. I was thinking about voting for McGinn until he went off about the Mayor’s “toy streetcars” to the PI over the weekend.

    1. That Was MALLAHAN that said Toy Street Cars:
      “Mayor Nickels has had eight years – more if you count his days on the County Council – to open a dialogue with suburban cities and the region on how transit service could be more efficient and cost effective,” said Mallahan.

      “Rather than give priority to Metro, Mayor Nickels has been off building toy streetcars that are redundant to, and cost more to operate than, buses, and pursuing an agenda that emphasizes glitz and glamour over delivering basic services.”

      Here is the link:

  18. When does Nickels actually take transit himself? Last spring he talked a great game about the importance of walkability, then proposed huge cuts to the city’s pedestrian investments, most of which were restored thanks only to Jan Drago and the Pedestrian Advisory Board. And this seems to be a common m.o. with him. I can’t say his record is either wonderful or horrible, but I most definitely can’t vote for him. Police unaccountability, putting secret cameras in parks after the Council refused its permission, regularly playing fast and loose with the facts, not walking his own walk, the Snowpocalypse, SDOT dysfunction, City Light leaving 10% of streetlights burned out…we can do better. Eight years is enough.

    1. Uh, 10% of streetlights? Where? And if streetlights are really an issue, he’s testing LED replacements which will last far longer and are much lower power.

      Yes, police accountability is an issue. I didn’t really mind Snowpocalypse, honestly. I don’t know about the ‘secret cameras in parks’ thing (have anything about that?) and the SDOT dysfunction I’m not sure about, they seem to be producing projects pretty well.

      1. True stat, Ben… but, Jon, I’m not sure you can blame Nickels for having to cut back on staffing during the current budget situation or after the mess that the snowstorm caused. Besides, they tend to depend upon citizens calling in burned out streetlights.

    2. I am not sure that it is the role of the Mayor of a major city to actually take public transit to work. He has done more than most to promote, represent, and lead on the issue, but I don’t think he has to walk the use anymore than I would expect President Obama to take the subway to Congress or Amtrak back to Chicago.

      Therefore, I don’t necessarily expect the Mayor of Seattle to take the 54 bus from West Seattle to downtown, but I would expect him to endorse measures that would improve the lives of those who do take public transit (i.e. the rest of us) Mr. Nickels has done just that through his promotion of Link and streetcars etc., and he does use mass transit for the important photo opportunities as I would expect him to do by way of providing leadership on the issue.

      Taking another issue that is close to me, the Green and Clean initiative. I have been to several of these events this year and Mr. Nickels has shown up at all but one of them. He may only appear for 30 minutes or at the end of an event, but the point is that he acts as the mast and figurehead and sail for the event and with all of the pressures on a mayor’s time, I don’t expect him to do much more than this. I still got the chance to pester him with questions about King Street Station and the Mercer Mess and he did follow through with my suggestion that Seattle try to get a tree sapling from a Chestnut tree that is in danger of dying on the grounds of the house that Anne Frank hid in during her forced hiding in Amsterdam. The tree meant a lot to Anne as she reflected on the changing seasons.

      As far as the snowpocalypse is concerned, sure there were errors and mistakes, but we were all taken unawares by the extent of the snow and of greater concern at the time was the collapsing economy. Seattle is a pretty forgiving city generally and it moves on to other problems and issues. I doubt that the mayor has not learnt the lessons for the upcoming winter.

      If you look at Mr. Nickels’ record in the round, rather than in the specific that changes almost daily and can pale with time and new direction, he has done a fine job representing the interests of Seattle both within the boundaries of the city and to the wider world beyond with his green initiatives.

      I also support the cameras in parks as a method of controlling illegal activity and vandalism in the parks. Nothing wrong with that goal, surely. I am tired of walking parks that are vandalized by graffiti or blighted by trash.

      1. I, however, expect more from a mayor who advocated for alternative transportation. The mayor of Minneapolis frequently bikes or takes the bus to work. The mayor of NYC almost always takes the subway to work. That is leading by example–not just for photo ops.

      2. Yes, but in NYC, there is little choice to taking the subway because I doubt cars would move as quickly through the City.

        I am not suggesting that Mr. Nickels not take public transit, just that I hardly think it is worth voting against him for that reason.

        I don’t know much about Minneapolis so can’t argue with you there. I am just saying that Mr. Nickels has put his heart into mass transit and if he doesn’t personally take it to get to work, well then, it is neither here nor there.


      3. I wouldn’t vote against him for this reason either. I just think we should always expect a bit more from our elected officials, especially on a topic that means something to them; I guess that’s the point I’m making.

      4. I think Norman Sigler is a brilliant person that knew he wouldn’t get elected but wanted to inject some ideas into the debate. I love his website for really laying out positions that aren’t “politically correct.” Some I agree with but there’s a couple that pretty much disqualify him from serious consideration:

        According to the 4th definition of “Gang” is defined as:
        4. a group of persons working together; squad; shift: a gang of laborers.

        We need to devise a new approach to this age old problem. We will engage gang leadership to mutually understand our motivations and goals. My administration hopes to help them transition their activity into a legitimate business.

        Isn’t this pretty much the history of the Mafia?

        Provide a Path for the Homeless

        Establishing Permanent Tent Cities
        A tent is your permanent home? An RV in your golden years for some but come on; tent city as a Path for the Homeless? Never mind that “Tent City” is a funded political stunt to “showcase” the plight of the homeless.

    3. I’ve seen him plenty of times in the morning with an aide and driver at the Admiral Starbucks in his big black car and have been oh so tempted to invite him aboard the 56E or 57.

      1. I think Greg and the rest of our state and local elected officials as well as all of the candidates need to give it up.

        That’s right, for one week ride transit, bike, walk just don’t take a car.

      2. M. Stanley Dukakis rode the Boston MBTA Green Line from his home to the Massachusetts State House almost every day during his time as governor there.

        Michael Bloomberg takes the IRT #6 from the Upper East Side to New York City Hall everday.

        There’s no reason Mayor McCheese can’t occasionally ride Metro or the Elliott Bay Water Taxi. It might do him some good health wise!!

      3. Wow, Bloomberg not only rides the subway, but he rides the most crowded line in NYC!

      4. What’s stopping you from extending an invitation? He’s just the mayor; he can’t read your mind.

  19. I can’t help but to be suspicious of Mayor Nickels intentions when it comes to reining in city spending. Maybe it’s not so much what you do but how you spin it. The Rober Mak contract is just the tip of the iceberg as far as increased spending on mayoral staff. It seems to me that he’s become a bit like Ron Sims in his quest to address high profile global issues and neglect the less glamorous tasks required to provide city services within the constraints of the budget.

    I don’t see any of the candidates really proposing solutions. McGinn’s website says, “I will work with Metro to make overcrowded buses a thing of the past.” How about, “buses are going to become more crowded in order to eek more efficiency out of the system and maintain service with the budget shortfall we face.” Nah, never get elected with that spin. Not allowing Seattle to be hung out to dry for cost overruns on the tunnel could potentially be huge. OTOH there might not be an overruns (wouldn’t hang my hat on that one) and if there are it’s not clear that Seattle can legally be made to pay them. How about, “We need to start tolling the Viaduct to fund the construction of infrastructure the city needs when it is removed.” Yeah, better have a spin doctor on par with Robert Mak to sell that one.

    In the end I don’t see anybody that can unseat Mayor Nickels. Welcome to the machine!

    1. Seattle likely can’t be hung out to dry on cost overruns on the tunnel – the legislature can’t impose that on the city.

      1. The legislature did impose the cost overruns on the city and Nickels is taking a huge risk for Seattle by agreeing to it.

      2. Which means it’ll never get built. Which is a good thing, really. The bad part is it’s gonna take us 4-5 years to realize that and move onto something else.

    2. I don’t see how anyone can accuse Nickels of responsible spending. Just take a ride on the Lake Union Streetcar. $50 million there? Puh-lease. I could transport people by rickshaw more efficiently, and without killing any cyclists with those damn in-street rails.

      1. Actually, in the long term, the streetcar is cheaper than your rickshaw. Operating costs per passenger mile are very, very good for rail transit, even streetcars!

        Remember that buses need replacement more often, become more expensive to maintain, and carry fewer passengers per operator.

      2. Dozens, perhaps hundreds of cities throughout the world have streetcar networks. Are Seattle cyclists so different that the two can’t live in harmony?

      3. Uh, we can, but those tracks are so dangerous. And they were built right where the UW to downtown preferred biking route is. Heck, that’s even the path that the Seattle Bicycle Map still suggests.

        Have you ever commuted near train tracks? Those are hair-raising death traps to a cyclist even on a sunny summer day, never mind a dark, rainy, rush-hour ride in November.

      4. Complaints against the $50M South Lake Union Streetcar is amusing. At least we got the spine of a new streetcar system. Didn’t we blow $100M on a monorail system that we NEVER built?

      5. If you feel uncomfortable riding your bike Westlake, did you ever consider 9th Ave or Fairview or Eastlake?

      6. @Michael:

        1) Don’t get me started on the Monorail. I know a lot of people here disagree with me about it, but I hold Nickels responsible for that not happening.

        2) You didn’t actually address my argument.

        3) I’m not complaining about the Streetcar. I personally am ambivalent about it because I will never, ever ride it. However, it seems evident to me, riding through that area, that they didn’t really consider bicyclists as stakeholders. If we’re serious about becoming a bikeable city – as having something like a Seattle Bicycle Master Plan would suggest – pointing out processes that leave us out is my job.

        @Mad Park:

        1) Riding to 9th Ave and Fairview from the UW is the exact route I’m talking about. Not only do you have to contend with the tracks at certain points, the signs actually direct you to cycle through crowds of people waiting for the SLUT. Also, Eastlake is a motherf@#$er of a hill, not to mention that it dumps out to an intersection that is very dangerous for cyclists.

        2) Also, if we, as this blog advocates, are going to build a web of these streetcars throughout the city, what’s the mitigation for bicyclists? I haven’t seen anyone give that question any real thought yet, and it’s a fair one.

        3) When people who don’t know you tell you to change *your* behavior because it makes it more convenient for *them* . . . do you like that?

      7. Zelbanian-
        Per your #3 – No, I do not like “people” (irresponsible bicyclists) riding too fast on sidewalks and riding against the light through crosswalks without asking me. I find it inconvenient when the SLU Tram is not running because of some “people” have sabotaged it or are have parked their 2 ton SUVs in its way. I love having speed limits, noise abatement laws and numerous limitations on my “freedoms” in order to have quiet enjoyment in a dense urban area. I make changes in my daily routines all the time without being asked so as to accommodate others without. It is parting of being an adult who is not into instant gratification in a big way – something a lot of irresponsible cyclists could learn.

      8. I ride to my job in SLU all the time. I’ve never had a problem with the tracks. From what I’ve heard, any future streetcar tracks will be in the center lanes. They’ve heard from a ton of cyclists about it, so I’m sure things will be done differently in the future.

        As for the monorail, if you knew the real history of it you’d be glad that it died. I was a supporter of the monorail until that twit Joel Horn screwed it up. If you really want to blame someone it should be him. It was an expensive boondoggle in the making, that if built according to their plans wouldn’t have even had enough capacity to replace the bus service to Ballard.

      9. Didn’t we blow $100M on a monorail system that we NEVER built?

        Don’t blame me. I voted against it after I voted for it. Lost interest after the fire on the existing monorail brought up the question of how would we get a person in a wheelchair off an elevated monorail, especially after subsequent designs eliminated parallel track.

        When I called the monorail authority, they told me that in case of fire another train would pull alongside the burning one – or end to end – to offload the person in a wheelchair.

        Uh – right. I’m sure they’d enjoy the fumes while they waited.

        The monorail failed because – and this is the judgemental me speaking to be sure – it was a dumb idea.

      10. Silly me I voted for the monorail every time it was on the ballot. I really drank the kool-aid. Though I was never anti-light rail or anti-streetcar.

        Only looking back do I now realize what a flawed project the monorail was.

      11. I seriously doubt you could transport people efficiently with a rickshaw. Do you really mean a pedicab?

  20. Our founding fathers envisioned government service to be temporary. For private citizens to serve the public for a time, then return to private life. Greg Nickels has never held a private sector job his entire adult life. Since the age of 18, he’s been a politician. I agree with the founding fathers. I think it’s time for Nickels to step aside, and let a new crop of people serve.

  21. That Was MALLAHAN that said Toy Street Cars:
    “Mayor Nickels has had eight years – more if you count his days on the County Council – to open a dialogue with suburban cities and the region on how transit service could be more efficient and cost effective,” said Mallahan.

    “Rather than give priority to Metro, Mayor Nickels has been off building toy streetcars that are redundant to, and cost more to operate than, buses, and pursuing an agenda that emphasizes glitz and glamour over delivering basic services.”

    Here is the link:

    1. Thank you for correcting the record Becky Sue. I didn’t think I had read that about McGinn this weekend.

  22. I am not going to vote for canditates who believe the city is a social services agency. I want infrastructure , public safety parks and libraries. Everything else is either gravy or gimmes to “victims”. Affordable housing? Who says you have a right to live here

    1. Howabout . . . they’re gonna live here anyway. It’s just a matter of whether they’re living on a street (and thus not making any money for anyone, just sucking it down) or whether they can have a a roof over their heads.

    2. Should someone who not only grew up here but also now teaches in Seattle Public Schools have a right to live inside the city limits?

  23. I’m hardly surprised… but this is as depressing to read as the Cascade Bicycle Club’s endorsements. Jeez, I’m surprised you didn’t all just vote for Roads+Transit when it was on the ballot.

    1. Mickymse,

      I’m pretty sure we all DID vote for Roads + Transit when it was on the ballot. That’s actually why the blog was founded.

      The gamble to say no and wait for a better deal worked out, but it was a gamble and one that could have turned out differently.

      1. Well… that at least confirms why I often argue with you guys on issues and just further explains the endorsement for the Mayor, then, doesn’t it?

        It doesn’t make much sense for you to support McGinn who potentially could have killed expansion of light rail, despite the fact that he held true to his activist credentials and vision for a better Seattle.

        It also explains why support is so strong around here for the SLUT.

      2. I think it’s accurate to say that McGinn prioritizes stopping roads over building light rail, and for most of us here it’s the reverse. That doesn’t mean we like highways, but it means our priorities are a bit different.

        And in this case, we’re making a similar call: we’re picking the risk that the tunnel gets built over the risk that McGinn proves to be ineffective plus the risk that he sacrifices Sound Transit for a consideration that’s secondary to us.

      3. I shall go on the record as voting against it. Growing up in the suburbs of Sacramento I know what more roads does to a society. That part really freaked me out. I was willing to wait, I mean, heck, Seattle had already waited all this time just to get a light rail system. Whats a few more years for something that will actually reduce congestion and help Seattle’s footprint.

    2. I didn’t vote for it. It is my fervant hope that not another inch of highway lanes gets built in this area in my lifetime.

  24. I like a lot of the political selection from this site, unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. While Nickles has been “transit friendly” he’s done plenty to warrant getting his butt kicked to the curb. He had my vote in the past but he won’t get a sniff of it this time around.

  25. Mayor Nickels has my vote – and not because the other candidates fail to inspire me, but simply because Nickels has earned my vote. When everyone else was wringing their hands and urging “caution” and “waiting” after the failed R+T debacle, it was predominately Nickels that insisted on going back to the ballot with an ST2 plan.

    When ST2 passed it broke 40 years of gridlock and debate in this region. That is a stellar accomplish that will change this region, and we to a large degree have the leadership of Nickels to thank for it.

    That said, most of the anti-Nickels comments that I read have more to do with people being tired of him after 8 years, or people not liking his leadership style. Neither of those are reasons to vote him out. And I’d gladly take a strong mayor over the one that hid under his desk during the WTO riots.

    Honestly, is that Nickels is too strong? Or is it that this city has such a history of weak and ineffectual mayors that Nickels just “seems” too strong?

    Per the snow storm, get over it. It was a 20 year event and things just aren’t going to go that smoothly. Besides, every other car in this city is a 4-WD. Maybe people should figure out how to actually use it for once?

    1. And see, I support McGinn because of the very same reason. He lead the fight against the roads & transit measure. He knew that was the right thing for this city. So even when the mayor was saying to vote yes he knew that Seattle could do better. And guess what, he was right.

      1. Stopping something from getting done, and actually getting something done, are two completely different and opposite things. It’s relatively easy to be against something and get it stopped – in fact, it is the history of this entire region. We’ve been fighting amongst ourselves and fighting to stop things for so long that we are at least 30 years behind.

        And McGinn didn’t lead the fight against R+T — Kemper Freeman and his cronies did, But the fact that “he” was able to stop something is hardly important. The real question is “What has he actually gotten done?” The answer of course is, “Not a lot.”

        Mayor Nickels has gotten things done – ST2 being a prime example.

        I’m sorry, but I just prefer to vote for someone who has a track record of getting things done, as opposed to someone who has a track record of stopping things from getting done.

      2. I feel that you’re over-selling Nickel’s impact on ST2. While he supported it, it was the work of numerous planners, advocates, and volunteers that made it pass–by the people. I don’t think we should give one man too much credit for helping pass a proposition.
        We should give the mayor credit, however, for getting the tunnel option for the AWV replacement selected. That’s really his biggest achievement.

      3. Nickels led the campaign for ST2. You know those advocates and volunteers? A lot of them were his own staff.

      4. AndrewN,

        We covered this extensively when it happened. Lots of board members didn’t want to put it on the ballot in 2008 unless it got support from all three counties. It came down to Nickels and Reardon getting together to make a deal to get Snohomish on board.

        Plus, he let a bunch of his staff go to go run the Mass Transit Now campaign, which was run on a shoestring.

      5. I believe Kemper Freeman, et al, led the fight against Roads & Transit. They certainly funded it.

  26. “We think Nickels is the best choice. But we’d be happy with McGinn.”

    Would that be an accurate summation of your endorsement? If so, I can live with that, since I’m the same way if you switch the names.

    1. I think there’s a risk that McGinn turns out to be an ineffective mayor, but if he turns out to be effective that’s basically right.

  27. I am voting to re-elect Mayor Nickels. Trouble with Seattle is that passions run so deeply and widely. Every issue, it seems, has very passionate pro- and con-groups. The biggest fear I have with McGinn taking the mayoralty is that the tunnel, quashed, will bring on the viaduct rebuild advocates and the LAST thing I want to see is a viaduct rebuild. Talk about laughing stock. What city in its right mind would want to build such a blight-inducing structure today if there are alternatives. Sure, diffusing all that traffic on city streets seems a great idea, but in the real world….and are we not talking about a state highway? I don’t see how downtown surface streets could be used as a highway. No, if the tunnel is “shot down” we’ll have a viaduct rebuild.

    1. People keep saying this… including many folks I truly trust and respect on the issue; but I just don’t get it.

      We had a very well-defined process that took us from about a dozen different proposed options down to three. A very carefully chosen group of public stakeholders was put together to help shepherd this process, and a number of public meetings were held with considerable outreach to the community.

      At the end of this process, a majority of the stakeholders were ready to choose the Surface+Transit(+I-5) option as the best solution to replacing the Viaduct when suddenly this completely brand new and never vetted tunnel proposal was put forward and suddenly embraced by Nickels, Sims, and Gregoire.

      Yet this option was never studied by the stakeholders group. It was never taken out to public meetings. It is less than 5% engineered. And it actually reverses earlier decisions made by Nickels (‘No tunnel’) and Gregoire (‘The Viaduct will be taken down by 2012’).

      So, how is widespread anger to this decision a sign of Seattle Process or folks just wanting a viaduct rebuild? Especially when a majority of Seattle voters have already expressed their dislike for an elevated solution?

      1. They were pulling the rug out from under this business. The state, city and county don’t want to deal with 99 anymore, but none of them want it hanging over their heads. So they throw a bone to the folks who whine the most so they can cover their butts and just tear down the viaduct and go the fast and dirty route of S+T after they realize “gosh, so expensive.”

        If this tunnel gets built, I owe you all a pony.

        But mark my words, they chose a tunnel so they wouldn’t have to build it.

    2. We’re not building the tunnel no matter who gets elected. The engineering specs are only like, 5% done, no one can find the money they’re supposed to be finding, and if no one is going to take responsibility for overruns, Gregoire is not going to allow the possibility of half a hole under Seattle with no way to pay for the other half.

      Ergo, don’t think of McGinn as the anti-tunnel candidate. Think of McGinn as the pro-surface/tranit candidate.

      1. Good points Zel, but the engineering on the tunnel is actually less than 2% complete. The estimates are based on less than 2% of the engineering. There is no plan for the inevitable cost overruns & polling shows that people will not pay a $1.00 toll to drive in the tunnel.

        The EIS has not been done, and the machine to dig the tunnel will take years to build and it will be the size of a washington state car ferry (but function exactly like the two broken Brightwater diggers) – this is such an amazingly irresponsible plan that I can’t believe Nickels went for it.

      2. I just pushed up the estimate from 2 to 5 because I *hope* that they’ve done a little more work since that was published. ;)

    3. The elevated viaduct option is dead — it’s either “Tunnel + Surface”, or just plain “Surface”.

      1. The surface option is a nightmare. Every other downtown street already functions as a traffic arterial, usually unpleasant to walk along (and probably to bike on as well). People won’t just magically stop driving, not without other options – such as streetcars, which the tunnel opponents don’t seem to like either. Seattle was a streetcar city, growing it into the urban village form people love, with urban centers in Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, Columbia City – take your pick. With any luck, political will and good management, it will be a streetcar city again.

      2. Actually, lower average traffic speeds (more congestion) make for better pedestrian access, and gets more people out of their cars.

        People really will “magically” stop driving, start taking the bus, and start fighting for transit. But we have a problem – even transit advocates don’t realize that this actually happens.

      3. I walk in downtown three times a day, every day. Breathing the exhaust of idling cars and watching for the road-raged motorist trying to take a shortcut, or weaving through cars on crosswalks in grid-locked traffic, does not make for a good pedestrian environment. It isn’t good for the sidewalk patio businesses in my downtown neighborhood, either. Multi-week construction projects in downtown don’t convince people to stop driving downtown, because there aren’t any alternate routes, or enough alternate transit options. There have to be enough alternative choices to get people out of cars, taking away one choice won’t do it, buses by themselves won’t do it, and don’t expect everyone to jump onto bicycles. We need the alternative options in place first, which hasn’t happened. As a pedestrian I already face enough traffic on my streets and I am looking for less, not more.

      4. Other than expensive gas one thing that will drive people out of cars is raising the cost of parking. If parking downtown was a minimum of $5/hour or $40/day or $800/month you can bet far fewer people would drive. If you really want to be obnoxious make the parking fines equal a month’s worth of parking and boot or tow anyone with an unpaid ticket.

      5. Lydia, the downtown exhaust amount you’re going to breathe will be essentially the same with or without the viaduct tunnel. The amount in the region TOTAL will be much higher with the tunnel.

        Multi-week construction projects are temporary, and people know that. But even then, during I-5 construction, Sounder ridership grew dramatically. The same would happen with the no-build scenario.

      6. Funny, I live next to the Columbia Center and work in Belltown, and I never have a problem with exhaust, idling cars, dangerous traffic or anything like that, and I walk around downtown for hours every day.

      7. The tunnel is a nightmare. It has no downtown exits and so it will only take about 40% of the car trips that the viaduct now takes, but does nothing to help get the other 60% of the cars moving smoothly on surface streets or into mass transit. Those guys will be clogging our streets and not have any other option but to do so.

        The tunnel also does nothing to fix I-5 at its convention center choke point or improve the connection from West Seattle to I-5 (another ugly traffic point).

        4.24 billion dollars to move cars 1.7 miles = bad deal for Seattle

      8. Maybe Becky Sue thinks he/she is posting on the Seattle Freeways Blog? Or at the AAA Washington Blog?

        “Fixing” I-5 at the convention center? Isn’t that straight out of the Kemper Freeman playbook?

        The example of I-5 at the West Seattle bridge is a bad one. Nickels’ Bridging the Gap measure is paying for the bulk of that project already

      9. No, I am talking about removing the Seneca Street exit because it will allow for an extra lane in both directions under the convention center – where the I-5 choke point is at its worst.

      10. Yes, removing the Seneca Street exit is a great idea because it makes I-5 more of a bypass to downtown. For the same reason the tunnel bypassing downtown is an improvement (albeit an expensive one). The urban core has to move toward being if not a car free zone certainly an extremely car limited zone. I’m not anti road. In fact I think better roads (not necessarily more roads) are a better answer than transit in a lot of cases. But, when you reach a certain density more roads and more cars don’t work. Seattle downtown is close if not there. If you’re really serious about 2040 then that’s the reality. It’s not politically popular to say that now so none of the candidates will.

      11. I never have a problem with the streets in downtown. Well, okay, maybe Spring/Seneca, but that’s it. They’re nicely paced, easy to cross and not too crowded out unless there’s a game going on at Safeco/Qwest.

  28. True Nickels has been a big supporter of rail transit, but he does a poor job of putting that into a broader transportation goal of getting people out of cars and on to alternative modes of transit. If you guys really cared about an all-encompassing transition to a more sustainable transportation system you would most certainly have gone with McGinn. Perhaps its time to change the name of the site to Seattle Rail Blog?

    1. Here’s the problem. In the long run, rail is always better. Remember, buses only exist because of the car companies using them to kill rail transit (which was, you know, market-selected…).

    2. Don’t tell us what we “really care about”. If the Seattle Mayor had been the typical ineffective leader, we very well may have had nothing beyond Sound Move.

    3. This is just silly. Even on his own website McGinn simply promises to build light rail, with no details as to how, where, or when. His website is a good illustration that he has spent almost no time studying transit, if that much.

    4. Why is it such a shock to some that a transit blog favors light rail expansion? And do you really expect us to not notice the biggest transit investment in the region in generations because you promise think McGinn’s plans will be “all-encompassing” and he’ll respect the “broader transportation goal”? I like McGinn, but I honestly don’t know what these phrases mean.

      The City of Seattle pays for plenty of local bus hours through Bridging the Gap, which is obviously Nickel’s plan. Same deal with complete streets and the bicycle master plan.

      I don’t think we have to qualify every post with, “We love buses, too!” There isn’t really an exciting development or a huge political fight over bus service. We’ve fought decades for rail and the opening of Link is certainly a much bigger deal than the fact that my 8 arrived on time this morning. If there are specific policies, like more bus-lanes, where McGinn is much stronger than Nickels, please let us know.

      1. Good points, John.

        It’s also useful to keep in mind that most transit opponents around here seem to embrace buses. So, there is usually little to fight about when a bus plan comes up for a vote…

  29. McGinn is a good illustration of why I’m a former radical and a former Sierra Club member and a former Seattleite. I didn’t appreciate the years of opposition to transit from the Sierra Club, and I don’t appreciate McGinn trying to get into office on one issue that he knows some people can be depended on to shout about.

    McGinn’s website says almost nothing about rail transit- simply that he will build it, without any explanation as to how- and a lot about buses.

    It’s not too hard to see what would happen if McGinn got into office. Bureaucracies love it when the head man is floundering in the deep end of the pool. It probably wouldn’t be long before McGinn got into some bus situation that would make any expansion of streetcars or light rail impossible until he was replaced by somebody who was competent. I would give you even money that Gregoire would simply give the green light to a Viaduct rebuild and roll over McGinn like a bulldozer if he reneged on the tunnel.

    Nor am I impressed by the thought that McGinn would ride a bicycle to work. We’ve just got past a President who was always riding his bicycle when he should have been working, and that was enough.

    Frankly, if I didn’t like the solid progress Nickels has made on streetcars, I would love to see McGinn elected, just to see the fustercluck that would follow, and the disappointed looks on the faces of his supporters.

    1. Sorry, I guess I was referring more to the idea of pedestrian and cycling infrastructure, as well as simply changing our habits to not necessarily need as much movement in the first place. I know that rail is the most energy efficient but you need a whole system put in place around it to actually change habits. When I talk to McGinn, which I have many, many times, I feel that he truly understands that transportation task at hand. That means figuring out ways to make walking and cycling the norm, utilizing car share programs, changing zoning codes. Then on top of this you put an important rail spine, which we are doing, as well as a bus system (which could even be small vanpools or something).

      When I listen to Mayor Nickels I hear RAIL. That’s it. I hear nothing about an aggressive plan to change our transportation habits and he also doesn’t actually use public transit so hes removed from its benefits and setbacks.

      1. Rail is not the most efficient. The DC Metro consumes as many BTUs per passenger mile as San Francisco electric trolley buses. And the energy used by a bicyclist is less than 10% of these two modes. This notion of the supremacy of rail is a falsehood. There is neither perfect mode, nor perfect candidate, nor perfect plan.

      2. Multimodal Man: I don’t think that’s actually true, about the BTUs. I suspect that you’re using the same old late-90s USDOT numbers that didn’t take into account lifecycle at all. Plus, DC Metro cars last longer, and the maintenance is cheaper in the long run, too.

      3. The seven largest transit agencies in the country have a rail maintenance backlog of $50 billion. Energy to operate and energy to build are two different things. Long-term operating energy nearly always is more than upfront capital (unless you’re looking at using lots of boring machines over miles and miles). I’m looking at 2007 data using kWh consumed by the two systems and divided by passenger miles. NYC MTA subways are the best performers in the country over all surface modes (except feet and bicycles) because they are so darn full. It’s not “potential” energy efficiency measured by duration of equipment life or other metric (what light *could* carry over I-90), it’s actual energy used for mobility provided. Haven’t we agreed that mobility should be about people and goods, not vehicles? This is why the best mode is relative to the transportation need. Rail’s strength is far distances (to take advantage of low friction) or heavy loads (to take advantage of coupling ability); and in both cases requires low gradients. Asserting that rail is *always better* is by logical extension stating that hills are meaningless, travel demand always equals heavy loads or people always want to travel long distances. A good transit advocate may have his favorite mode but recognizes application of the mode in every case is not *always best.* I encourage more logical thought and exploration of your central thesis that rail is always better on this website.

      4. But when I bike to work I can’t use hydropower, and when I take Link it doesn’t eat burritos. Comparing the energy used between these two modes seems kinda weird.

      5. I consider this an obtuse response. We use hydropower to cook the burrito on an electric stove and diesel to run the farming equipment. We inhibit the Salmon’s progress to their historic spawning beds with hydroelectric dams and grow corn to make ethanol to power cars. Simply because the energy in the beans in your burrito comes more from the sun (we can use the same plot of land to place solar panels) and not from overhead catenary lines doesn’t mean that they aren’t related. Choosing to use human-powered transportation where feasible means that mass transit can be appropriately to trips where it is *relatively* energy efficient over other reasonable alternatives. But the fact is mass transit is not always the most reasonable alternative; it is not *always the best* mode.

    2. In other words, you hated McGinn from the start and you’re finding lots of excuses why you should continue to hate him. Got it.

      McGinn has useful things to say about all the issues. If you bother to pay attention, that is. The reason the tunnel is a big one for him is the same reason it’s a big one for me (aside from environmental impacts): the kind of political process that led to the selection of that products represents a fundamental breakdown of democracy. Yes, he uses it a lot, but that’s because he gets traction on it and he doesn’t have the benefit of money like Donaldson, Mallahan, or Nickels. It’s smart politics, pure and simple.

      Maybe McGinn would suck. And that’s fine. We hire someone else in 4 years. Hell, I think Nickels kinda sucks right now, but I’m surviving. But hoping that someone else’s pick would suck out of spite – hoping the rest of the city fails because you want to make a point – makes you a terrible citizen, and I’m really glad you don’t speak for me.

      1. What is wrong with the political process that got the tunnel decision? PAid political leaders did their job for a change? I don’t agree with the outcome, but it’s more than a little hysterical to say that there’s been a “fundatmental breakdown of democracy”.

      2. Why bother voting on things like Stadiums and Tunnels if the results are going to be ignored? Either make the decision without the vote or respect the outcome. I think that’s the fundamental breakdown.

      3. It’s pretty bad. We did vote strongly against a tunnel – just not THIS tunnel, which is ridiculous, although true.

  30. The tunnel may be stupid, but it has to happen. We’ve spent decades trying to find a solution, and finally we came to a compromise with something that no one is really that wild about but that will finally open up our waterfront and take down the viaduct. Also this is a safety issue; with each extra year we leave the viaduct up, we have more of a chance of it collapsing in a catastrophic earthquake. We’ve discussed this in our region for so long, we really just need to get on with it.

    1. Also this is a safety issue; with each extra year we leave the viaduct up, we have more of a chance of it collapsing in a catastrophic earthquake.

      So do what should have been done in 2001 and close the viaduct and start tearing it down. The thing is unsafe and nobody should be allowed on or near the thing. Politics is the only reason the road is still open.

      We’re dealing with an unsafe structure, there is no need to have a replacement plan in place before closing and removing it.

  31. The tunnel may be stupid, but it has to happen.

    Well, it will happen so I guess that’s the same thing as has to happen. I don’t think it’s stupid in that it will provide a lot of benefit but at a stupid price tag (and I’m not talking Stupid Prices cheap!).

    Mallahan and Nickels will be the two that make it through the primary. They have by far the biggest war chest and both will do “what ever it takes” to push through the tunnel. Contributions are easy to come by from business that are going to profit by the construction and outcome of the tunnel. The TBMs aren’t the only big machines at work here ;-)

    1. The tunnel can still be killed during the EIS process. Remember they haven’t even started that yet. Then there is the question of cost overruns, with only 2% of the engineering done we really don’t have a good handle on how much this thing will cost. If the overruns are much more than a few million the City is going to balk on paying. Then there is always the chance that tribal artifacts will be found during construction which has the potential to scuttle the project entirely. Especially if WSDOT behaves as it did on the Port Angeles graving dock project.

      It ain’t a done deal, not by a longshot.

  32. I’m confused (what’s new). I’m reading this web page from the Discovery Institute and it would seem to the average speaker of the English language to be saying that Slade Gordon served 18 years in the United States Senate. I’m really old and senile but my recollection was Slade was a one term wonder replaced by Patti Murry.

    Save web page complete. The link from Horses Ass to a cached google page regarding Susan Hutchison that lead me here was long gone. I’m fairly right of center. More likely to support Ken Hutchinson than Susan Hutchison but this sort of shenanigans is unacceptable.

  33. Slade Gorton defeated Warren Magnuson in 1980, he was defeated by Brock Adams in 1986, he ran for Dan Evans’ open seat in 1988, he was re-elected in 1994, and was defeated by Maria Cantwell in 2000. So he did indeed serve a total of 18 years in the Senate.

    While he ultimately decided to retire, Patty Murray launched a primary challenge to Sen. Brock Adams at least in part over the sex scandals he was involved in. At the time she was seen as a huge long-shot, but as they say the rest is history. BTW expect her to either end up as Majority Leader or Chair of the Appropriations Committee.

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