Tom Rasmussen ran for city council in 2003 as the health-and-human-services guy. He was all about the meeting the needs of seniors and people with disabilities, creating more units of affordable housing, and looking out for queer youth. Rasmussen basically—and successfully—argued that we needed to put him on the city council because someone needed to make sure the city was doing all it could for your more sympathetic/photogenic disenfranchised urban types. And that makes Rasmussen's position on potential tunnel cost overruns all the more mystifying. There's no daylight between Rasmussen and Conlin: Tom, like Richard, wants the city to hurry up and sign a contract that leaves Seattle taxpayers on the hook for any and all cost overruns.

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As Dom wrote in his feature this week, and the Seattle Times echoed/regurgitated yesterday, those overruns could potentially run into the hundreds of millions dollars. Tom must know that, if there are cost overruns on the tunnel (and there's never been a project of this scope that didn't involve huge cost overruns), the people likeliest to be "negatively impacted," as they say down at City Hall, are seniors and people with disabilities, folks who need affordable housing, queer queers, etc. You know, all the same people Tom went into politics to serve.

What the fuck is Rasmussen doing? Besides committing political suicide, I mean. Rasmussen is the chair of the city council's transportation committee. He's supposed to be the guy who's making sure our transportation dollars are wisely spent. The buck stops with him. And he's only in his second term—Conlin is in his fourth and most likely last term, Gregoire isn't running again, Nickels is history—and so if there cost overruns (and aren't there always?), Rasmussen is the one voters will turn out of office.

What is Rasmussen thinking? As Tom knows, the city is reeling from having to find $12 million worth of cuts in the city budget this year and bracing for a $50 million shortfall next year. Imagine the carnage if the city has to find $100 million worth of cuts to cover cost overruns on the tunnel. Or $200 million. Or $500 million worth of cuts—all to cover the cost overruns on a tunnel we don't need. The people Rasmussen supposedly got into politics to help—the poor, the needy, the disabled—are already imagining the massive budgets cuts that will be needed to cover cost overruns on the tunnel. Groups representing the poor and disenfranchised sent a letter to the council last month asking the council to act on cost overruns. These same groups are so concerned about potential cost overruns that they're now planning to push for a referendum that will do what Rasmussen refuses to do: protect the city's finances to protect the city's most vulnerable residents.

Rasmussen used to represent these people and their interests. Who is he representing now? Who is he working for?

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Rasmussen is poised to betray the poor, the disabled, the seniors, the queer youth. He's turning his back on his base. Rasmussen is willing to risk massive cuts to crucial services for the poor and disenfranchised—services that are considered crucial because, not to put too fine a point on it, lives are quite literally at stake—on an another empty promise from the governor. Rasmussen isn't willing to stand with the mayor and tell the state that the city won't grant permission to build the tunnel until the city—and all the vulnerable people who rely on the city for services—are protected.

What the hell happened to Rasmussen?

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