Harshly dismissing the mayor’s office, the Seattle City Council’s parks committee voted today for a bill that will likely hand the Museum of History and Industry up to $7 million from a land deal with the state. The museum insists it needs that money for a move to the armory building on the southern shore of Lake Union.

“This city council said we have had enough,” said committee chair Sally Bagshaw. “We have to get MOHAI moving on construction.”

Striking at a larger point, City Council Member Tom Rasmussen said, “I am concerned that no one is going to be confident with the city if every time an administration changes, everything is back on the table again. There needs to be confidence in city agreements.”

Mayor Mike McGinn had argued that proceeds from the sale of parkland where MOHAI sits should be retained by the city to help save services amid next year’s budget shortfall. The museum already got $40 million in exchange for the condemnation of the building, where the state must pay for property consumed by the 520 Bridge expansion. McGinn said the museum should get no more.

However, the council passed a law last year authorizing MOHAI to negotiate with the state and collect money for the land, and the mayor’s office oversaw two agreements earlier this year that granted MOHAI proceeds of the building and the land.

Today, the mayor’s office made familiar arguments and dismissed claims that MOHAI would close its doors without the money as a “myth.” But the council also shot down several of the mayor’s claims. For instance, the mayor’s office has said MOHAI’s need for off-site storage and offices were new request, part of a ballooning project. But council president Richard Conlin said, “That has always been part of our discussion here and I am sure that it’s on the record of park meetings.” And last week, senior advisor to the mayor Tim Killian told The Stranger that MOHAI “knew the $40 million was coming” but “they did not reveal it until after they had reached this agreement with us for the land deal.” MOHAI director Leonard Garfield instead told the council today that the museum only learned it would get $40 million for the building in July (the month after the parks department, under McGinn’s watch, signed an agreement saying MOHAI could collect up to $7 million).

In a display of force that showed the council will not only pass this out of committee, but as a full council, seven of the nine council members showed up at the meeting today. Six voted to override the mayor’s proposal (O'Brien abstained) and forward the bill for a final vote on Monday. If passed, MOHAI would get $7 million from sale of the land where it now sits.

Rasmussen takes a dig at McGinn after the jump.

Most acerbic were comments from Rasmussen. “I am concerned about a pattern with this administration,” he said. “I think it is very divisive. It happened with tunnel and State of Washington. The mayor says that if [the state doesn't] give money to the tunnel, we can give money to refugees and immigrants. It’s a pattern on behalf of the administration to pit the haves against have-nots. To me, this is strike two. It is misleading and it divisive. It is not a strategy that is going work with me and I hope it is not a strategy that works with the rest of the council.”

I know this post is getting really long here, but I want to point out a distinction Rasmussen isn’t making. While I agree with him overall—the city should honor its contracts or risk losing faith from partners in negotiations—MOHAI is different than the tunnel. MOHAI, a cultural institution of doubtless worth to the city but still a private enterprise, benefits from an ordinance passed by the council and followed-up by agreements intended to be codified in law. In contrast, the tunnel project is a deal with the state, a government and not a private entity, and the city has passed no law to build a tunnel. There is no contract for the tunnel. There are only meaningless resolutions predicated on information about the project that we don’t have. The council may have made up its mind, but that’s not a contract. When former Mayor Greg Nickels did agree to the tunnel in a nonbinding agreement in 2008, it was on the condition that the state pay cost overruns—a deal the state broke a few months later. If anything, the state is the one being “misleading and divisive” on that issue.