Good Enough for Government Work
Posted: March 17, 2011
Now used as a pejorative, the “good enough” phrase was a compliment during World War II because it meant the work was good enough for the war effort. It’s from this positive historic context that we report two recent news developments – one good, one not so much.
In the best sense of “good enough,” we applaud Skanska USA Civil and its sub contractors for their remarkably speedy completion of the new north-bound onramp to the Alaska Way Viaduct at the north end of SODO. The new ramp opened March 11, two weeks ahead of schedule, qualifying the contractor for $280,000 in incentive pay. Skanska’s subs on the project were RW Rhine, Pacific Pile, Peterson Brothers and Lakeside Industries.
The project included reconstruction and relocation of the south-bound viaduct off ramp which, along with the north-bound ramp, now lands west of 1st Avenue South and Qwest Field before extending behind the Pyramid Alehouse to connect with Royal Brougham, Atlantic Street and the north SODO road network. The new configuration will last until the viaduct is finally replaced.
Let’s hope the rapid reopening of the ramps is a harbinger of more good viaduct-related construction work to come.
Unfortunately, this brings us to the work that isn’t good enough for government.
Not So Much
Last week, it was reported that Mayor Mike McGinn, his wife and members of his inner staff team are the main drivers behind a referendum drive for a public vote on the contracts between the city and the state to replace the viaduct with a deep bore tunnel.
The city council passed legislation to approve the contracts a few weeks ago, the Mayor then used his authority to veto the legislation, and the council then used its authority to override the veto by a walloping 8-1 margin, enabling the tunnel project to keep moving forward. And, now, the Mayor seeks a referendum.
Rights of referendum and initiative in America date back to the U.S. progressive movement at the dawn of the 20th Century. They were designed to give citizens the power to override elected officials by initiating legislation on their own, or reversing legislation.
These rights weren’t, and aren’t, designed for elected officials to use during intramural battles between themselves. Yet, this is what Team McGinn is doing after failing in the normal, appropriate, representative-democracy City Hall decision-making process.
City historians have yet to turn up a single instance in which elected city officials have availed themselves of these powers. That’s not surprising.
The maneuver violates the whole spirit of the referendum process. Mayor McGinn emerges as Mayor Super Citizen who possesses not only his own powers as mayor, but our rights as citizens. To top it off, the Referendum Posse is hiring paid signature gatherers to support their petition drive to get their measure on the ballot.
A sense of bad karma grows.
You can’t have your grassroots and eat them too.
Camp Red Tape on Hold
At least for now, the proposed new homeless camp in SODO is on hold. The City Council wrote the Mayor a letter last week stating that it will not approve the project until the environmental review is complete. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Mayor McGinn responded by chastising the council for its support of the deep bore tunnel.
In a recent edition of the Real Change newspaper, former homeless people who live in the city’s homeless shelter in Lake City said they wouldn’t live in the SODO camp because it would be subject to too much bureaucracy.
(In case you haven't heard)
Argo Bridge is Closing Soon
Airport Way South Viaduct over Argo Railroad Yard Rehabilitation Project is under way. Starting around April 1st the bridge will close for 12-14 months. All vehicles will detour to 4th Ave S. and bicycles to 1st Ave S in order to cross over the Railroad yard. For more info go to: www.seattle.gov/transportation/bridgerehab_airportargo.htm
1st Ave Closed North Bound
Spokane St 1st S On/Off Ramp construction requires overnight closures of northbound 1st Ave S between S Spokane and S Hinds streets from 8 p.m. to 5 am. on March 18 and 25; April 1, 2, 8, 15, 22, 23, 29 and 30.
Traffic will be detoured.
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