Monorail Recall didn't want me crashing its Monday-afternoon press conference at City Hall; their A-list, which included both daily papers and every radio and TV outlet in town, didn't have my name on it. (A helpful pro-monorail tipster gave me a heads-up about the conference.) When I arrived at City Hall, a small claque of sign-brandishing Monorail Recall members were milling around, arguing over the proper placement of two file boxes filled with 22,000 anti-monorail petitions.
The signatures are a potent addition to the anti-monorail cadre's arsenal. This despite the fact that Monorail Recall may be the most bumbling group of citizen activists ever to stride the limestone steps of City Hall. In the course of a one-hour press conference, Recall leaders Liv Finne and Jim Day managed to accuse City Attorney Tom Carr of malfeasance, allege (inaccurately) that the monorail agency determines vehicle values, and deny that Monorail Recall was linked to a poll that the pollster himself, Don McDonough, acknowledged was used by the group.
Even if the anti-monorail forces are foiled in their bid to get the initiative on the November ballot, the Seattle Monorail Project's troubles are far from over. Last week, the SMP acknowledged that it may delay the monorail's opening for two years, saving as much as $60 million ["False Start," Erica C. Barnett, July 8]. Problem is, Seattle Center spokesperson Kym Allen says the Center "isn't okay with" losing the revenue from the current monorail (which would be torn down in 2005) for two additional years. The monorail agency has little choice but to play nice with the Center--because the park is owned by the city, the SMP doesn't have eminent domain over the property.
The People's Waterfront Coalition, which wants the state transportation department to replace the ailing Alaskan Way Viaduct with a set of sensible fixes to streets downtown, has won the ear of one powerful ally: council member Richard Conlin, who says he's "leaning toward the idea" of asking the DOT to include the PWC's radical plan among its five concrete-heavy, multibillion-dollar fixes. The best indication that the tide is starting to turn for the fledgling coalition? Next Monday, July 19, the PWC will be at the table for a city-sponsored forum on the viaduct.
If the PWC won its spot in front of the council dais the hard way, the Build the Streetcar campaign took a shortcut: They enlisted council president Jan Drago as a de facto member. Last week, when Drago cosponsored a fundraiser for the lobbying group, I encouraged readers to call the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission if they shared my concerns about this unseemly (though perfectly legal) collaboration. On Monday, Drago clotheslined me at City Hall to point out that according to the SEEC, "I can do whatever I want on my own time." True, but that doesn't make it appropriate to lend your name and credibility to a group whose primary purpose is lobbying you to fund their project. Ethical? Technically. Questionable? Highly.