Friday, September 25, 2009

Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata (aka Dr. No) Proposes to drag his feet on the deep bore tunnel for up to 8 months!

Why does Nick Licata want to hold up the replacement of the Alaska Way Viaduct?
What is so important to him that delaying the entire project for up to eight months more is the best option?

Let's find out.

Urban Politics #280, 9/25/09

By City Councilmember Nick Licata


Today Mayor Greg Nickels presented his 2010 Proposed Budget to the City Council. One of the major elements accompanying his final budget is accompanying legislation to the Council requesting that we approve a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the State signing off on $787 million for the city’s obligations to fund projects related to the bored tunnel.

The Council is receiving this legislation eight months after he signed an agreement with the Governor and King County Executive. The Council is scheduled to take a week to evaluate his proposal and approve the MOA. The legislation will be introduced Monday and up for a vote Tuesday in the Transportation Committee, with a final vote expected the following Monday.

There is something wrong with this picture. Why rush to sign an agreement that is barely off the press? What is motivating this breakneck speed after no action for months? I fear that the public may get the impression that the current Mayoral election may have something to do with it. There is no clear reason for the City Council to bypass our budget deliberations.

Ok, let's insert some facts missing from Council Member Licata's memory. "Barely off the press" to Licata is months old.

The Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 5758.

Apr 24 Senate concurred in House amendments.
Passed final passage; yeas, 39; nays, 9; absent, 0; excused, 1. (View Roll Calls)
Apr 25 President signed.
Speaker signed.
Apr 26 Delivered to Governor. (View Bill as Passed Legislature)
May 12 Governor signed.
Chapter 458, 2009 Laws. (View Session Law)
Effective date 7/1/2009.

Remember something, anything, from back in April. How about something from the press? No, yes, maybe?
How about this?
On the May 27, 2009 edition of City Inside Out: Council Edition, Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata, a longtime opponent of replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel, said, "I've never been a big fan of the bored tunnel but if they are going to do it-this might be the best opportunity.".

What happened between May 27, 2009, and September 25, 2009?
The "best time" turned into "what's the rush".

Could it be... McGinn?

The city Transportation Subcommittee has been meeting regularly, as sub-committees do. Then they approve, or recommend action to the full council.

Nick Licata is not on the Transportation Sub-committee. He, like the rest of the council members not on this, or other committees, get recommendations all the time to review and consider for full council review and action. There is no rush, just grandstanding by a council member not part of the sub-committee, but fully aware of the impending requirement for council action to support its obligation to support the law passed nearly six months ago, and went into effect more than two months ago.

Back to Licata's statement:

The Council should act responsibly in considering legislation stating the City’s intent to enter into an agreement with the state and agreeing to fund $787 million in City projects as part of the bored tunnel project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The proposed budget includes $603 million, well short of full funding. It appears that over 80% of the cost of the public open space on the waterfront is not identified.

So, the council, that has been living with the law for a couple months, has sub-committee meetings on the viaduct replacement, needs to slow down because the "public open space on the waterfront " does not have funding. A major earthquake and much of viaduct will be "public open space on the waterfront " in a matter of seconds, it is sinking into the earth a little at a time, you can not delay gravity.

The "public open space on the waterfront " is a Seattle want. Ripping down the viaduct and replacing it with the already paid for tunnel is a need.
Offer an amendment to postpone acting on the "open space" until funding can be secure, offer that next week, if that really is your reason for wanting to delay the project, and I do not know it is, really. You flip-flopped from now is the time, to dragging it out.

It is hairsplitting grandstanding like this that you embrace as "responsible" footdragging, and then object when your opponent says that you have a reputation for obstruction. I wonder where she gets that from? Oh ya, from you.

Back to Licata's statement:

Voting two business days after receiving the Mayor’s funding proposal falls short of accountability standards we should be setting for ourselves. We have eight weeks to consider the Mayor’s budget; the MOA should grow out of that work, not precede it.

The mayor is restating what was reflected in the legislation from Spring, that went into law in Summer, and is now in the Mayor's budget proposal this Fall. This stuff is outlined in a brochure published last May, in color, with pictures. Seasons have passed, laws have passed, sub-committees have been meeting. Not enough time for Licata, for some reason.

And while Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata is sending out his press release stating that he wants to slow down, the Seattle City Council sends out its own press release stating that it is ready to move forward:Council set to solidify alignment with the state on Viaduct replacement
Transportation committee will vote on authorizing forward progress

SEATTLE - On Tuesday, Sept. 29 the Transportation Committee will review and discuss a Memorandum of Agreement between the Washington Department of Transportation and the city, which would authorize the parties to move forward with the Alaskan Way Viaduct Deep Bored Tunnel and Seawall replacement.

While the city, county and state have previously agreed on the deep bored tunnel alternative, this agreement marks the fourth in a series of contracts for the project. On Sept. 8 the Council approved three MOAs with the state, authorizing more than $480 million in state funds to be used for reconfiguration of the south portion of the Viaduct.

“This legislation is timely and appropriate,” said Jan Drago, Transportation Committee Chair. “The state and the city are continuing to make progress on the bored tunnel replacement and this is one of many pieces in that process. The legislation will prepare Council for necessary financial actions which we will address during budget deliberations, beginning next week.”

This agreement outlines the state and city’s responsibilities and provides a clear path for progress. It recognizes the necessity for all entities to work collaboratively toward completion.

"I'm pleased that Mayor Nickels and the Seattle City Council are moving forward with the State of Washington on this Memorandum of Agreement," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. "Replacing the Viaduct with a deep bored tunnel was a decision involving years of analysis, evaluation and deliberation to arrive at mutual agreement. We have no time to waste if we are to ensure the safety of our citizens and our future economic viability that relies heavily on our transportation systems."

“Our responsibility is to both provide safe, effective transportation solutions and to lay the foundation for a great urban waterfront for future generations,” said Council President Richard Conlin. “This legislation commits the city to continue working in partnership with the state to fulfill that commitment.”

Once discussed and voted on by the Transportation Committee, the proposed legislation would go before the Full Council for a vote, which is expected to occur on Oct. 5.

Hmm, the council is ready, Licata is not prepared to move forward.
And more Licata:

Seattle can be a good partner with the state by replacing the central seawall, establishing a promenade on the downtown waterfront, completing the Spokane Street Viaduct Project, and replacing utilities on the central waterfront. Signing an MOA with the State on these items is a reasonable step to take, but the Council should first determine how we are going to pay the bill. The Mayor has released only the vaguest of plans, including parking taxes, possibly increasing property taxes, and a new vehicle license fee.

Vaguest of plans?
This is how it is spelled out in the Mayors budget, and highlighted in the Seattle Times, dollar values, dates, potential sources.

The Council says that they are ready, are you part of the Council?

And more Licata:

In 2008 the City Auditor cautioned about beginning large capital projects without full funding in place. This agreement commits the City to a path to begin capital projects without telling the public how this full funding will occur; it goes against the spirit of the Auditor’s recommendations.

The state legislature required WSDOT to report back in January with a revised cost estimate for the bored tunnel (and prohibited awarding contracts before that), and whether $400 million can be raised from tolling. A 2002 study estimated $35 to $95 million could be raised. The legislature required cost overruns to be paid for by Seattle property owners. This agreement does not address this provision, and acting prematurely could place Seattle taxpayers at risk.

It’s time to do our homework.


Citizens are directed to the following website to complete a form to
send an email to the Mayor's Office.

When people send messages to people like themselves they say one thing, when they communicate to a wider group they pull back a little. Nick Licata's attempt to drag his feet on this project is built off the least significat details, nothing that should at this juncture hold up the project. So, why does he do shit like this?
Because that is who he is, champion of hairsplitting, and grandstanding off that public hairsplitting.

I do not have any good reason to endorse voting for Jesse Israel, and that is a shame.
I will actively endorse voting against Nick Licata.