Wednesday, November 11, 2009

"McGinn begins transition, looks forward" (with video)

KOMO4 News with video (01:55):
Mike McGinn's transition headquarters is 60 floors above Seattle streets. But he can see the ground. He can even see the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Remember how he used to promise to block the tunnel? Gone are the old days.

"We are very deeply committed to proceeding with the tunnel project," McGinn said.

This new-found tunnel support has his former business adversaries smiling.
"I don't think he ever was scary, because a lot of people knew him pretty well," said Kate Joncas of the Downtown Seattle Association. "We just had a lot of concerns about the viaduct issue. We worked hard for eight years to get that settled."

Now everyone seems to be on the same tunnel page, but McGinn still wants assurances the state - not the city - will pay for any cost overruns.

"It's a pretty significant issue that ought to be resolved before we get the drilling machines underground," he said.

There are several problems bigger than the viaduct. Eighteen percent of office space in Seattle is vacant.

"I think the biggest challenge will be bring the economy back," said Seattle City Council President Richard Conlin. "We've got to position ourselves as a trading city."

The council is currently putting together next year's budget, and it warns the economic forecast for 2011 could be worse. This isn't McGinn budget, but he'll look at every dollar and how it's spent.

"The economy is bad and city revenues are down. And that means there's a lot more need," McGinn said.

McGinn promises to cut where he can, but while protecting human services. And he's even willing to use the dreaded "T" word.

"We may. We may need new taxes. We may," he said. "But I don't think that's where you start."
McGinn will take office January 4. At that time, he may find that solving the viaduct problem is easier than putting together a budget.

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