Mayor’s Office Angry Over $40 Million Given to History Museum

Comments

1
Good for the Mayor.

Someone has to try to fill the Giant Black Hole in the budget that the Billionaires Tunnel is expanding each and every day.

Remember, if it wasn't for neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Fremont, and the U District, the city would be broke thanks to the whiners "downtown" who demand much and spend less.
2
So MOHAI is more successful at bargaining and dealing with the State, following the deal struck with the City prior to their bargaining with the State, and the Mayor wants to step in and take the money that they're getting?

Wow.
3
If I was given the choice between awarding the museum money, or keeping a public health program alive, the museum would be told to go fuck itself. period.
4
i thought they moved into the Convention Center 10 years ago. shows how relevant they are...
5
So the city is lousy at making estimates. Why is that anybody else's fault, or responsibility?
6
@3 -

The money is likely coming out of the Transpo budget for the 520 replacement - mitigation costs - and as such would not be able to save any public health programs.
7
@6 it all comes out of the total lid amount for bonding authority and for taxing authority, when you get down to it.
8
Trying to change a deal after the fact -- another example of an inept, amateur mayor's office. Is there anyone else left in Seattle for him to piss off?

Besides, if one-time, capital $s are used to fill a temporary budget hole it just puts the problem off for another year, when the temporary money is no longer available. It's a dumb budget philosophy -- another sign this mayoral administration is bush league.
9
Deals a deal. But MOHAI should be willing to lend some of the money to the city so long as it goes back to cultural institutions...to be paid back with interest when the economy picks up.

@8 bush league doesn't even scratch the surface.
10
The longer McGinn hangs around, the more of this amateur bullshit we can expect from the city. In theory, the state owes the city for the land value and nothing more, and the city punted that discussion to MOHAI. Public health or the "Billionaires Tunnel" (God how I hate that phrase), have nothing to do with this.
11
@9 I like your thinking.
12
Ha! Ha! Ha! The city attorney in the person of Carl Marquardt is a true horsesass. You make the deal then when the party of the second part makes you look foolish by your lameness, you double down and want a cut? What will you do now Carl, send some of the "guys" out to beat 'em up? As mentioned, deals a deal; eat it!
13
Maybe McGimp could learn a thing or to about negotiating with the state especially since MOHAI was so successful.
14
yet another embarrassment for team mcginn. this looks so bad on their part.
15
So the city has been working with MOHAI for years and MOHAI manages to negotiate a great deal for themselves and McGinn wants a do-over?

Funny, I bet there are a lot of voters out there who wish they could have a do-over too.

16
If MOHAI does get this money compensating them for the loss of the current museum, the museum may cease to exist. Full disclosure- I work at MOHAI. However, I care about MOHAI not just because I work here but because it offers a tangible avenue for community building, education, and historically based culture and arts in Seattle. We will do so in bigger and better ways if we are able to move to the Armory building.
The new museum, by the way, will be fabulous- partially because we are looking to the community to dictate what goes in both our permanent exhibits, supplemental materials (check out our videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/mohaiprogram…) and traveling exhibits at the new place.
@6- you are right. This funding can’t be used for anything other than compensation for transportation projects. It couldn’t go toward any of the other much needed funding reserved for arts or civic services. The $15 million the city thought the building was worth was reasonable only if it was for the building itself- not taking into account the function of the building as a museum.
@9 & 11- Unfortunately MOHAI doesn't have the money to lend. The money we are getting in compensation for the building at Montlake covers the renovation to the Armory building and the replacement of the exhibits. As the article points out, the entire cost of the project is about $90 million- the rest of which we are fund-raising for on our own.
This wrench thrown in the moving process could seriously jeopardize our existence- and the knowledge and civic pride MOHAI provides Seattle.
17
I meant to say If MOHAI does NOT get this money they may cease to exist.
18
This is serious bullshit on the part of McGinn & Co. MOHAI has been in serious jeopardy because of the 520 project and been very proactive about the entire situation. To fuck them over at the last minute like this sucks.

So fuck the McGinn org if they continue in this direction. I like a lot of what he's done, but this does not sit right. MOHAI is a serious resource for the city. This cannot stand.
19
God I hate our fucking mayor. At this point I will do whatever I can to get this fucking asshat out of office in three years.
20
Needed in the mayor's office, now! -- Grownups.
21
I think everyone is missing the bigger point: MOHAI was handed a pail full of money that the city actually genuinely needs. It's pushing us closer and closer to losing vital transportation-related enhancements like the replacement of the Montlake Flyer stop.

On top of that, the city has already done the needful for MOHAI by providing things like a delightful Streetcar stop (ask MOHAI, the placement of that stop wasn't accidental), city-funded enhancements around the new museum, and a park that uses MOHAI as a focal point.

When you look at the money already spent on placemaking tailored to MOHAI, you might reconsider.
22
It also begs the question: why, in better times (circa 2008), was MOHAI saying they wanted $60mil and is taking in nearly 150% that (and counting) now?

They represent that stake here: http://www.seattlepi.com/local/380937_mo…

If I ask you for $10 and take a $20 instead, you'd be mad. If I then went to your boss and had him deposit part of your paycheck in my bank account, you'd be furious.
23
"I agree with Baconcat."
24
Let's go further into perspective: a total tear-down of a pre-existing foundation and property and construction of the current City Hall was around $75 million as initially proposed (and pretty much spot-on). This involved moving and consolidating city offices, LEED and environmental enhancements, public plaza construction, parking and state of the art electrical systems. At cost to the city.

In this case, we have a project that looks set to exceed that by far more than even inflation could account for and including related projects they aren't even paying for. Regardless of your stance, it's hard to argue that a museum, regardless of esteem and prestige, is a more complex operation than a city hall.

Are we just giving money away?

As a humorous aside, here's Jean Godden railing against SUVs and SOVs and SOBs and spending money on wasteful energy consumption!: http://www.seattlepi.com/opinion/232098_…
25
Never heard of this museum. How many people here ever visit? How about just giving the $40 million back to homeowners?

May cease to exist? 90% of Seattle probably doesn't know it EXISTS!
26
Could you all please use language that doesn't make some of the rest of us cringe?
27
It's MOHAI's money. McGinn and his gang of idiots signed away the public's rights and the museum doesn't have to give the city anything. And they won't. End of story.
28
One of my fondest dreams is to meet someone who's been to MOHAI.
29
@16 - I know I'm right :-)

But, back to the point that was raised by others - this is distracting (just like the waterfront beautification project debate) from a major construction project that is going to affect Seattle in a serious way - the 520 replacement.

The Mayor has had what, one press conference about this? Rodney Tom is over on the Eastside praising himself for shitting on Seattle over the 520 replacement, and instead of being "proactive" in that battle, the Mayor has been obsessed with the DBT.

Which is a real shame, because the 520 bridge had/has the opportunity for transit improvements (and we're not going to get light rail, but some sort of BRT, or a 3rd Ave compromise), and we're pissing that chance away.
30
Memo to the Mayor,

Hands off MOHAI. You say you are invested in Youth education, MOHAI does that on spades. You are messing with Seattle's Smithsonian and folks won't take kindly to that. In the budgeting process, dedicated funds are for specific purposes and cannot be diverted to other programs. Here is an idea, why doesn't the City hire MOHAI to handle all negotiations with the state, they seem to be better at it
31
What's funny is I went to MOHAI for the first time this past weekend. It was okay.
32
Let's sell the MOHAI land to Chihulhy at current land prices. Then give them both pointy daggers and let them fight it out.
33
@28,

Nice to meet you.

The Lusty Lady sign is (or soon will be) at MOHAI. Enough said.
34
To say that the South Lake Union improvements were made for MOHAI are absurd—can anyone spell PAUL ALLEN? I don’t hear much squawk about the Mercer project which is being paid for by the city (with some Fed $) expressly for Mr. Allen, at the expense of rational traffic flow.

Being active in the Arts community, this administration’s seeming contempt for the arts and humanities is a given. (The mayor has publicly stated that had seen a play, once.) That they are so bold in their thievery is only a little surprising. That they must resort to this type of bald face chicanery because they have no other ideas to fix the budget demonstrate that they are amateurs reduced to thugery.
35
I think I like MOHAI better than I like city government. Hmm. I've been there several times, and it's great. @33, they already have the Shelly's Leg and South End Steam Bath signs. There's more of Seattle in the museum than is left in the city.
36
Well...the REAL larger point seems self evident:

The Mayor obviously needs to hire the MOHAI negotiating team to represent the city in all its talks with the state going forward.

(Hell, if their present track record is any indication, they could probably get the state to pay Seattle for the right to build a tunnel under downtown, rather than the other way around!)
37
I know times are tight, but I do not think trying to strong-arm money from a cultural institution is the best plan of action. McGinn sees MOHAI as an adversary, but this museum is definitely an important part of the city.

The museum is NOT using the funds to buy company cars for all of their employees, this is critical to keeping the place open (the $40 million does not even cover half of the move cost). They are not moving by choice and for McGinn to stumble into this situation with demands is pretty low.
38
@35 great.

Then stop demanding a government subsidy for MOHAI.
39
I'm a member of MOHAI and I say all of this dialog is expressing exactly why MOHAI is so vital to our community. If we don't pay attention to the past, how are we going to make sense of the here-and-now, let alone look to the future with any sort of collective wisdom? A contribution to MOHAI is a much better investment in our community than a contribution to a certain elected official re-election campaign!
40
@38, I am praying for your death.
41
You and al-Qaeda, brother.
42
@35,

And the toe truck!
43
For MOHAI's sake I hope the mayor drops this, but if he wants a fight they'll by fuck give him one.
44
it is *expensive* to move every aspect of a museum. especially when you are forced out by a government infrastructure project. MOHAI deserves all the money they negotiated for.
45
Worst. Mayor. Ever. Which is perhaps why Will in Seattle seems to be panting after a job in his administration.
46
What I'm struggling to understand is why it's okay to condemn a building for road expansion, force out the occupants, and then get mad at them because they want a new place to go with no compensation for being kicked out. Would we accept this behavior if it was a person? Well, MOHAI's preserving out collective history, folks. Don't punish MOHAI because of horrible budget management from the city. They've worked hard to fulfill their obligations - why should they get such a raw deal?
47
Once again I think Mayor Mike will likely reverse course on this one because of public concern for the policy (REMEMBER THE VIADUCT!).

I suppose it was worth the try since the city is struggling and in Seattle you never know what someone will actually give you. But seriously Mayor Mike, I think you better bail on this before you get bailed.
48
@46 I don't have anything against MOHAI. In fact, I've probably been to MOHAI more than most other museums around here, and I used to go to SAAM and SAM fairly regularly.

The problem is, we've got cutbacks. Real cutbacks. As in homeless on the street.
49
This is not a situation of the city "giving" money to MOHAI that they have available to give to more important programs and should not come down to a value judgement debate.

To clarify-
@46 This is not money that city just has access to already. It was negotiated SPECIFICALLY to compensate MOHAI for the loss of use and move costs for the museum. If MOHAI had not negotiated with the state, the money would not be there for the Mayor to try to take from the project in the first place. MOHAI put in the work and resources to get this money and is not taking it from the city.

@22 The article you mention cites the $45 Million is not the figure for the entire project. Noted in the article "Garfield said renovating the cavernous interior and creating new exhibits would cost about $45 million." It does not replace or move, the back of house, artifact storage and library that is a huge part of the museum and it is ethically responsible for caring for as part of it's public trust but deals only with the armory building which is significantly smaller than MOHAI's current facility which houses a 3-D collections, a library that is in charge of well over 3 Million historic photos including the PI collection and an auditorium/performance venue that serves tons of community groups throughout the year. The 85 Million mentioned is the cost of the whole project. Clearly MOHAI is not asking the state or the city to foot the entire bill of this project, they are in the middle of a massive capitol campaign to raise the rest of the money and pulling the bulk of it's confirmed funds away months from the start of building would be catastrophic for this organization.

The Mayor trying to make MOHAI out like it is stealing money from the mouths of children is disingenuous and offensive. He is clearly freaking out over the budget shortfalls and trying to bully and embarrass an important cultural institution. He is the one that should be embarrassed by these tactics.
50
@3: Doesn't work like that.
@4: Or shows how little you're paying attention.

People -- you do NOT want to lose MOHAI. Trust me on this one.
51
@28: you are missing out. MOHAI is fantastic. It's on my "Must See" list for out of town visitors. One of these days I'm going to make it to their extremely fun trivia nights, too.

This is a bullshit move from the ever-increasingly mind-blowingly incompetent Mayor's office. The only good thing about him being in for three more years is that we have time to find & groom a COMPETENT replacement. (Anybody? Anybody? PLEASE!!!! And not a sitting Councilmember. Boring.)
52
@49: Again I'll point out that Garfield has long represented the financial stakes and should have been more clear about potentials for overruns or bigger takes. Moreover, the move has been 5 years in the works -- to take monies for a sensitive project that has many vital portions in jeopardy due to shortfalls is irresponsible.

The city has a year-to-year budget that's ever-changing. MOHAI has known for years what it was doing, especially after being put on the spot for basically screwing the city over with a valuable space that could have been used and then getting a big fat bonus on reselling it like some kind of civic "Flip This House".

The mayor's office is right to be mad. They're free to make demands just as any organization is, especially when they recognize a "fuck you" from the state when they see it. Trying to use this all-too-coordinated effort to basically drag in as many people to pipe in with dishonest representations (such as yourself) and a chorus of the usual friends and foes with the same "I hate the Mayor!" party line to try to push the pins in as far as they'll go is getting wildly transparent.

It's nice to see that you value your paycheck over honesty or anything resembling civic concern, though. If you cared about MOHAI as much as your own bottom line, I'm sure you'd turn that energy to constructive fundraising instead of trying to slide dollar bills from the bottom of a very small stack.

But yeah, go ahead -- try to claim the city hates MOHAI and freedom and puppies and kittens because it's concerned that a decreasing take from the state will screw over thousands of daily transit riders (even though it's incredibly difficult to find a person who actually disagrees with MOHAI's existence!). I guess if transit riders had the big bucks to contribute to MOHAI, they'd matter.

Alas! Poor MOHAI!
53
Because I'm nice, I'll lob a question or two to you @49 since you are patient: supposing this isn't some kind of useless panic and the state reneges on funding vital transit improvements throughout Montlake, essentially destroying any ability to transfer efficiently in that UW/520/Montlake area for thousands of citizens and taxpayers (please see Seattle Transit Blog for ongoing coverage of this very real danger), will MOHAI play good neighbor and go for the assist with cash?

Would MOHAI work with the neighborhood it occupied and drew traffic to in order to restore vital transit connections that MOHAI owed a great deal of its livelihood to?
54
Is McGinn trying to indirectly derail the 520 project? It makes no sense to be trying to steal cash from other funding sources... unless he's trying to use what power he has to protest the lack fo light rail on the bridge.

Well, I'm disgusted. And I donated to his campaign, so I have the right to be offended and upset.

@33, Lusty Lady was installed on Saturday.
55
@54: Actually, MOHAI's eating into funding for vital transit links that are already teetering on the brink: http://seattletransitblog.com/2010/08/30…
56
I would like to point out that MOHAI gives back to the city much, much more than it gets. Perhaps most importantly, the Museum helps to fill gaps in area classrooms, with programs geared toward state learning standards that help teachers to show their students how to think critically and analytically about history and how historical evidence is used. MOHAI also provides scholarships to classrooms that otherwise could not afford to visit the Museum, so lower-income students can participate in historical learning activities. MOHAI is working very hard to continue to be a vital part of the Seattle community and raise the money for the relocation. They deserve every penny they got from the state and McGinn should shut up and stay focused on doing his job, instead of coveting the success of a civic-minded institution like MOHAI.
57
So Baconcat, what I am taking from your response is that somehow MOHAI should be fixing the 520 mess by donating to fix the traffic in the Montlake neighborhood?

And all transit riders will be screwed if MOHAI gets the money they where already promised?

I honestly confused by the tangents, I just don't even know what you are asking/proposing that you would like me to respond too but it feels like you arguments have really moved way beyond the actual issue.

58
So Baconcat, what I am taking from your response is that somehow MOHAI should be fixing the 520 mess by donating to fix the traffic in the Montlake neighborhood?
Hi, welcome to the Internet. You are obviously new, so here's a little tip.

Also, just so you know, getting in the last word doesn't count for much when you're already had your rhetorical ass handed to you.
59
@53: a) McGinn won't use this money to fix Montlake. b) What are we really talking about here, maybe $5 million that the Mayor's Office thinks they deserve? Even if that were used in Montlake, what in the world can you buy for $5mill? It won't build the other 1/3 of the 520 bridge, and it won't give you the transit connections your neighborhood needs. c) You have fallen into the Mayor's trap, this is a false choice. You don't have to bully the museum to get your lunch money.

@58: Way to dominate! But, Baconcat actually suggested that MOHAI should give money to Montlake. I'm confused. In your next reply I suspect you'll roast me with another link to Wikipedia Canon, but I'd really appreciate it if you were less obtuse.
60
@55 -

False. The way budgeting works for large projects such as these, to my understanding, is a certain amount is budgeted for mitigation costs, and that is where this comes out of. That money doesn't get rolled into "transit" if it isn't used, rather it goes back into the transpo budget, which is used to build state highways. This does not, in any way, take away from transit needs in our city, county or region.
61
And if you believe @60, you believe that the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War paid for themselves and didn't come out of your current and future taxes ....
62
@28 - You mean like the thousands of school kids who go there every year? Just because you don't spend your time at museums doesn't make them unimportant.

Besides, I've seen MOHAI's plans for their new museum and if they can pull it off the new museum will be a tremendous resource for the city and may even draw a few willfully ignorant people such as yourself to it. In case you ever wanted to learn anything. Ever.
63
@38 - MOHAI has given up their gov. subsidy for 2 years, all 400,000 dollars of it after the mayor asked them to. So shut up about things of which you know nothing.
64
@52 - "MOHAI has known for years what it was doing, especially after being put on the spot for basically screwing the city over with a valuable space that could have been used and then getting a big fat bonus on reselling it like some kind of civic "Flip This House"."

WTF are you talking about? The city thought they could only get 15 million for the 520 space. MOHAI's negotiators then went in and got 40 million. In short they rocked it.

Then after the city had negotiated a 50/50 split with MOHAI, McGinn's office asked it to be 60/40. MOHAI acquiesced. How is MOHAI screwing anyone over here?

Also - MOHAI had a plan to move down to the Convention Center, they had the funding in place. All was set. The City asked them to move into the Armory instead. MOHAI took a leap of faith and said, "OK". Now the mayor is making it harder for MOHAI when they've done whatever the city has asked every single step of the way!

Is anyone going to negotiate in good faith with McGinn ever again after this debacle?

How in the hell, I ask you again, is MOHAI screwing anyone, carnivorous, pernicious little non-profit that they are?
65
Last thing I'll add - the 40 million is from the state and is for the land that MOHAI and the city sold. The percentage negotiated by MOHAI belongs to MOHAI, it came from the state and NOT from the city.

The funds are directly for the reimbursing of MOHAI for the costs of moving because of the 520 bridge. Please would everyone keep track of the fact that this money DOES NOT come from the city's coffers.

The mayor is trying to take money negotiated by MOHAI - FOR MOHAI. He is trying to make a city jewel's life harder if not extinguish it all together.
66
The MOHAI is a wonderful asset to the whole region. Money spent to ensure that the move to Lake Union is successful is well spent. The money from the state designated for MOHAI will help ensure that this cultural and educational resource remains available to present and future generations. It complements the schools, libraries, theaters, sports facilities, and parks that make this region such a desirable place to work and play. These funds should not be diverted to other ongoing projects which have their own separate funding sources.