This Friday, King County Superior Court judge Laura Gene Middaugh may agree with Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes. She may rule that Seattle residents can't vote on the proposed deep-bore tunnel this August. She may decide that the ordinance in question isn't legally referable to the ballot because—although Protect Seattle Now turned in enough signatures to qualify for the primary election—approving the tunnel contracts is an administrative act. And both Middaugh's and Holmes's reasoning may be as solid as the bedrock under downtown.

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But even if they're right about the specifics, legally speaking—and I'd give them the house's odds that they are—their larger argument constitutes nothing short of an assault on common sense.

Just look at the timeline:


Moving in chronological reverse, in February of this year (that dot on the right), the Seattle City Council voted to approve three contracts that grant right of way to the state and authorize utility relocation. Holmes is arguing that was purely administrative and not legislative because the council's previous votes telegraphed that the tunnel was their intention all along. By Holmes's argument, the only time citizens had right to vote on this was the first time the Seattle City Council approved a nonbinding ordinance on the deep-bore tunnel—in October 2009.

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See the dot on the left—the only time we could vote? That was before the state studied the tunnel or released a report on it. That was before voters knew most traffic wouldn't take the tunnel. That was before Nelson\Nygaard found the tunnel was won't help freight mobility. That was before city leaders admitted they had no plan or money to deal with streets clogged with traffic diversion. That was before voters—or the city council, for that matter—had evidence that the tunnel wasn't the transportation solution we were promised back in 2009.

So back when we could vote, we couldn't be informed. But now that we are informed, it's too late to vote.