This should settle any remaining questions about whether or not Mayor Mike McGinn's staff has been trying to kill the deep-bore tunnel.

Ainsley Close, who was a strategic advisory in the mayor's office since January 2010, left her post last week at City Hall to become campaign manager for the tunnel referendum filed Monday. Ainsley was the tenacious campaign leader for McGinn's campaign in 2009.

Meanwhile, the group behind the effort—called Protect Seattle Now, a coalition of anti-tunnel forces that fought until this week—signed a contract yesterday to pay petitioners to collect most of the required 16,000 signatures needed to make the August ballot. Elizabeth Campbell, a member of the group and head of Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel, made the deal with Auburn-based Petition Management Services, run by Rick Walther.

Campbell wouldn't disclose how much money the campaign would pay for signatures, all told, but said that up to 25 petitioners would be paid a minimum of $2 per signature. The group has only 28 days remaining (out of 30 total) to turn in petitions, including a buffer for any signatures found invalid. "I am going to be watching the numbers and making sure there are enough people out there," Campbell says of twice-weekly checks to make sure the petitioning firm is track. She says volunteers, including some who gathered signatures for two tunnel initiatives, will also collect a couple thousand signatures for the referendum.