Council Candidates' Dubious Claims
Last week, Seattle voters were inundated with voters' guides, campaign mailers, election ads on cable TV, and as usual, exaggerated claims from the candidates. Linda Averill vows to be an "antiwar alternative" (to a council that unanimously passed a resolution opposing the war?). Former mayoral staffer Casey Corr asks "who was in charge" of the monorail (how about the mayor?). Port Commissioner–turned–city council candidate Paige Miller says, "Seattle saw a record amount of cargo come through its piers last year" (forgetting to mention that the Port has lost 40 percent of its market share over the last 10 years). Indeed, The Stranger took a look at this pile of propaganda and called bullshit on some of the candidates' biggest whoppers.
The claim: Paige Miller, a Port Commissioner who is challenging Richard Conlin, says, "when Seattle's waterfront trolley was in danger of shutting down, Paige stepped in and offered a plan to save it."
Bullshit: It's true that Miller did "offer a plan to save" the trolley. Unfortunately, that plan—which would have moved the trolley's maintenance barn to Port of Seattle property near Amgen—was summarily rejected when further study confirmed that it would cost more than $20 million, $11 million more than a competing plan proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels and King County Executive Ron Sims.
The claim: King County Council member, Sound Transit board member Dwight Pelz brags in his mailer that Sound Transit is "bringing light rail to Seattle neighborhoods for $260 million less than the original budget, and keeping our promise of service from Sea-Tac to the University."
Bullshit: "Original budget"? Pelz is right that light rail is currently $260 million below its most recent budget. The problem is, he's referring only to the current proposed light rail route from the airport to downtown, which is seven miles short of the real original route from the University District to Sea-Tac. That line was jettisoned when it went $1.1 billion over budget.
The claim: City council incumbent Richard McIver says his office helped craft "one-to-one replacement of low-income housing" at Holly Park, a former public-housing development that was redeveloped into a mixed-income community.
Bullshit: McIver's "memorandum of agreement" with the Seattle Housing Authority to replace public housing off-site has since been amended to require fewer replacement units. And that replacement housing—which is being funded out of existing housing funds (not new dollars)—is being provided not by the government but by a loose web of housing nonprofits, many of which have strict age and disability requirements that former Holly Park residents may not meet.
The claim: In his TV ad, Robert Rosencrantz says, "Dwight Pelz took off 66 Fridays" and charged the county $12,000 for gas.
Bullshit: Rosencrantz got the "66 Fridays" number from looking at Pelz's calendar, which showed no appointments on 66 Fridays over a three-year period. But Pelz says that just because he didn't have appointments listed doesn't mean he wasn't working. "I don't take three-day weekends. Frankly, I work most Sundays," Pelz says. As for the $12,000 gas bill, Pelz uses his car less than any other council member except Bob Ferguson, who takes the bus.
The claim: In his video voters' guide statement, Casey Corr claims that as head of the mayor's communications department, he "was responsible for the city's efforts to get $2 billion to replace the viaduct."
Bullshit: As spokesman for Mayor Greg Nickels, Corr might have written a press release calling on the state legislature to help pay to replace the viaduct with a tunnel. But he couldn't have done too much more than that: Corr left the mayor's office in early January, before the state legislature had even begun discussing viaduct funding. It would take the legislature another three and a half months to hammer out the 9.5-cent gas-tax package that included $2 billion for the viaduct—efforts that were led by Seattle Rep. Ed Murray (D-43) and other Democrats in the legislature. During that time, Corr was running for city council.
The claim: Longtime anti-monorail council member Richard Conlin gives himself props for his "willingness to ask critical questions about big, expensive projects that many politicians want to rush into."
Bullshit: As the council's transportation chair, Conlin rubber-stamped Sound Transit's light rail project before funding was secured. The project is now approximately 100 percent over budget, has open-ended taxing authority, and is more expensive per mile than the monorail.
Josh Feit contributed to this email@example.com