Bitching on blogs is for wusses, Mayor Mike McGinn seems to be saying in response to a bloggy lament posted today by City Council President Richard Conlin, who wrote: "The claim that Seattle is ‘on the hook’ for Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project cost overruns is an exaggeration and serves solely to instill fear and doubt."

That's a direct swing at McGinn, of course, since he's the loudest voice in the city raising concerns about Seattle being "on the hook" for any overruns. And so McGinn, embracing his role as Seattle's leading overrun skeptic, and taking a "say it to my face" tone, responded:

Richard Conlin put out a number of arguments about why we shouldn’t worry about cost overruns on the tunnel. I have been expressing my concerns about the risk cost overruns pose for our city. How Seattle answers this question will have a major impact on our future. I think it is time that Richard and I air these issues and talk them through in a public forum. A debate like this between us will give the public a chance to decide for themselves whether or not we should worry about cost overruns.

It's a sign that McGinn, who campaigned largely on the cost overrun issue and all that it symbolizes, is confident this is (still) a winning issue for him—and that his debating skills are (still) superior to anyone who might try to take him on.

I asked McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus to confirm that this is, in fact, a formal challenge to Conlin to debate the mayor. Pickus said it's fine to call it that.

"We're inviting him to an open discussion on this topic," Pickus said. "We think the public should be deciding if this is an issue we should be worried about."