Today, Mayor Mike McGinn held one of his press brown bags, in which everyone is invited to bring a lunch, ask questions, and hear the mayor talk. Nobody brings food. Here’s what he talked about:
About the Winning Tunnel Bidder With a History of Cost Overruns and Fraud Allegations: As Lower Hudson Journal News reported this weekend—and noted this morning—part of the presumptive team to dig the deep-bore tunnel has a history of cost overruns and fraud allegations. (The article names Tutor-Saliba and Perini Corp., which combine to become one of the members of Seattle Tunneling Partners.) McGinn weirdly knew nothing about this, but said, “It makes sense to look at the bidders and ask, ‘What is their record?”
The High Cost of a Little Snow: The Seattle Department of Transportation spent $452,000 dealing with the snowstorm on the week of Thanksgiving. But, McGinn says, those employees would have been working anyway, probably doing work funded by grants. The city is considering four ways to handle snow better in the future: (1) Switching the road salt from sodium chloride to sodium magnesium, which would keep water on streets as a liquid at a lower temperature; (2) buy more cameras that allow transportation officials to monitor which roads need treatment most; (3) consider working with private businesses to provide snow plows and such; and (4) reposition city vehicles. He also wondered aloud if the city should be more aggressive about closing dangerous streets and recommending to bosses when to send home employees.
After the jump: more stuff!
Signs on Skyscrapers: He thinks they’re fine. “It was a deal that Greg Nickels made with Russell Investments,” he said, making it clear that it wasn’t his idea. But he thinks they cold be good for the city. “We have a long history of putting signs on building that recognize local companies. … I think it’s fine to recognize our large local employers as long as it is tasteful, not too loud or bright of flashy. I think it makes sense to celebrate our local companies and… if it helps companies find their way into downtown, that’s fine too.”
He Plans to Sign the Latest Tunnel Initiative and Thinks You Should, Too: “Absolutely people should sign it. I will sign it,” he said of the recently filed measure to seek more accountability on cost overruns. But he hadn't read the text of another initiative that intends to strop the tunnel completely. McGinn added that, when the tunnel idea came about in early 2009, it was unstudied and unvetted (while a cut-and-cover tunnel and a new viaduct had been studied). "Now they have vetted [the tunnel] and they found all the problems. There hasn’t really been public scrutiny about deep-bore tunnel, so I think its great that the initiatives are out there.”
Chihuly Museum: He's not announcing his final recommendation yet, but when asked if he was considering more than one new tenant—i.e., a Chihuly exhibit and the KEXP studios—he said, “We are talking to lots of people about options. So I guess the answer is yes.”
About that Bill on Tunnel Cost Overruns He’s Been Talking About: McGinn still wasn’t ready to say whether he, in fact, has a bill that would nix a state law saying Seattle must pay cost overruns on the deep-bore tunnel, who would sponsor the bill, or if it would tackle other issues (like identifying new funding for Metro buses or mitigating traffic on surface streets).
Are Police Internal Investigations Sufficient? “We have received a lot of different comments from people in the wake of these incidents, saying it can be improved. I don’t have firm answer to whether we should change something,” McGinn said.