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Thursday, July 26, 2012 - Page updated at 04:00 p.m.
Metropolitan King County Council lurches toward an arena vote lacking information
ENOUGH of the parliamentary intrigue. The Metropolitan King County Council hardly seems ready to vote next week on the county's potential $80 million piece of the proposed sports arena in Seattle.
A curious turn of events had the proposal popping out of the council's budget committee, chaired by Councilmember Joe McDermott, without a vote by those charged with vetting the idea.
Next, a vaguely annoyed council voted 8-0 to take a look on Monday, after a seriously annoyed Councilmember Larry Phillips abandoned the discussion. McDermott is expected to offer amendments to shape the document before it returns to the Seattle City Council. Such a vote would be construed as an endorsement of the plan from San Francisco hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen.
How can the council take a position on the arena, even with, or especially with, a string of "yes, but ... " amendments?
Council members have appropriate concerns about the impact of the arena on the Port of Seattle, local transportation issues and the economic viability of the proposal. Some council members have said there needs to be an independent economic analysis, study of the freight corridor and an avoidance of gentrification in a valuable manufacturing district.
How does the council move from what Councilmember Jane Hague described as a "procedural disaster" to voting on something members have great qualms about: the adequacy of background information and data?
The council is hardly playing a definitive role for its constituents, and the county's financial interests, if it preliminarily signs off on an agreement with the caveat to "get back to us on these items when you learn more."
Is the council truly more interested in its own institutional timeline than getting detailed information on a decision the community will have to live with for decades?
The vote scheduled for Monday will provide a clue.
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