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If Bill or Paul ran Seattle

What would the city be like if one of Microsoft's co-founders were in charge?

Bill Gates in Davos, Switzerland. (World Economic Forum)

Bill Gates in Davos, Switzerland. (World Economic Forum) None

Paul Allen

Paul Allen None

The two richest, most powerful Seattelites are not in politics, and neither lives within the city limits. But they are local boys who made good, and people are already turning their eyes to the next mayoral election and asking: Who can lead this city in innovative ways?

If Donald Trump can toy with the idea of running for president, why can't our two most successful business entrepreneurs tackle the challenges facing their hometown? They did both grow up here, after all.

It can't be more complicated than improving global health, running a global software company, or staffing a global mega-yacht, can it?

Here's a look at what each might do if they found themselves sitting in hizzoner's chair in City Hall.

If Bill Gates ran Seattle

Style: "That's the stupidest thing I ever heard" becomes catch-phrase at neighborhood town halls.

Favorite transport mode: Fast-moving Porsche.

Tough Guy Deputy Mayor: Steve Ballmer.

Declare Seattle a Malaria-free Zone.

Public private partnerships: Seattle gets a 64 percent cut of every deal.

Great cafeterias for city employees.

New initiatives: City assumes powers of School Board, King County, Puget Sound Regional Council, legislative and Congressional districts and entire state in order to leverage market share. But the mayorship is not a monopoly.

One word for SDOT: Traf-O-Data.

Downtown tunnel: Make it a profit center by routing all vehicles through it and charging licensing fee.

Eliminate Apple as state fruit and replace with mascot Clippy.

Donate old aviator glasses to Museum of Flight.

Fire city budget staff because Gates can do the math in his head.

Official City song: "My Way."


If Paul Allen ran Seattle

Free concerts at Westlake featuring Allen, Aykroyd, and Bono.

City Hall moved to holodeck on mega-yacht Octopus.

Tough Guy Deputy Mayor: Jody Allen.

Stratocaster named Official City Instrument.

Install Kirk's chair in Mayor's office.

Replace official city seal with 12th Man flag.

Appoint Ray Bradbury chief librarian.

Favorite mode of transport: Battlestar Galactica.

The Downtown Tunnel: Fill with water and offer submarine rides.

New initiatives: Special grant funding for long-range, double-blind studies of the brains of City Council members.

SpaceShipOne Sundays at Seward Park!

Pink Floyd Muzak at Seattle Aquarium.

Zoning: High-rises must be topped by SETI arrays.

Knute Berger is Mossback, Crosscut's chief Northwest native. He also writes the monthly Grey Matters column for Seattle magazine and is a weekly Friday guest on Weekday on KUOW-FM (94.9). His newest book is Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes On Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps, and the Myth of Seattle Nice, published by Sasquatch Books. In 2011, he was named Writer-in-Residence at the Space Needle and is author of Space Needle, The Spirit of Seattle (2012), the official 50th anniversary history of the tower. You can e-mail him at mossback@crosscut.com.


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Comments:

Posted Tue, May 17, 9:27 a.m. Inappropriate

MSFT stock is down 55% over the last 10 years. GOOG is up 400%, AAPL is up 1200%. Paul Allen has lost billions in bone headed investor toxic tech deals. The last thing this city needs is another clueless, stuck in the past boomer running anything. How about some 35 year olds that have some ideas about the future, and are fully up to speed on current technology. somebody who doesn't confuse pure luck, ie. MSFT, with brains and forsight.

beaky

Posted Tue, May 17, 9:30 a.m. Inappropriate

"If"??????????????????????

Posted Tue, May 17, 10:23 a.m. Inappropriate

Don’t look now, but if you consider the costs of concessions made and promised for their various real estate projects by the last and present city administrations you’ll discover that they pretty much run things now. Even the tunnel turns out to be just a novelty that replaces the most effective north/south arterial and bypass for downtown with a clever little shortcut into Seattle Center and South Lake Union for people who don’t worry about paying tolls.

Why run when you have a mayor and city council waiting for your instructions?

jmrolls

Posted Tue, May 17, 10:38 a.m. Inappropriate

So beaky, jmrolls, do you not recognize satire??? Are you such trolls that.........

fgruben

Posted Tue, May 17, 11:08 a.m. Inappropriate

Gates would be able to use his well-demonstrated initiative, innovation and muscle to rapidly transform Seattle to truly "World Class" by purchasing every other city on the planet once he successfully sued them for patent infringement for using "Ones" and "Zeros" (which everyone knows were invented by Microsoft) in their data-processing systems.
Once their previous wealth had been reduced to less than nothing they could be snapped up for pennies, their entire populations imported to Seattle, and our nagging "insufficient density" problem solved, while simultaneously creating the "vibrant atmosphere" so essential these days (in spades!).

Think of how fun it would be to give the raspberry to Paris, Santo Paulo, Mexico City, Rio, Berlin, NYC, Hong Kong, LA, New Orleans, Detroit, Manila, Ho Chi Minh City, Beijing, Toronto, Phoenix, Baghdad, Saigon, London, Tokyo (until it completely melts down), and hundreds of other "world-class" contenders; and most important of all: Tacoma.

A once-impossible dream come true, all thanks to Gates and his loyal armies of attorneys,

Posted Tue, May 17, 11:26 a.m. Inappropriate

Well, Gates and his pal, Eli Broad, are trying to take over public education in this country so Seattle should be a snap.

(Although Gates' record on public education endeavors isn't that good so you have to wonder. Ah, right, he's tone-deaf to everyone except the yes people who surround him. A bit of a coward that way.)

westello

Posted Tue, May 17, 11:48 a.m. Inappropriate

Two or three times a day, the city would turn blue and need to be rebooted.

dbreneman

Posted Tue, May 17, 2:28 p.m. Inappropriate

Either of them would be a bigger train wreck than Mike McGinn...

orino

Posted Tue, May 17, 3:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Neither man knows how to manage people. People don't do exactly what you tell them to do, unlike computers which will repeat endlessly any task given to them.

Gates on World Health has done way more than the US Government. His relentless drive to develop vaccines and inoculate the world is highly commendable. Malaria is a tough disease, you have a parasite which is tough to get rid of. At least by applying his billions to the problem we are likely to find a means to deal with it. On high school reform, he hasn't a clue. But that's not surprising, neither does anyone else, otherwise we'd just fix it and be done with it.

Paul is clueless about transportation. We have him to thank for the SLUT. That he picked a mode of transportation that makes things worse shows how little he looked at the actual problem, or even bothered to find any experts to explain what works and what doesn't.

His new buildings in South Lake Union show a lack of attention to details that matter. At some of the buildings they installed unpainted steel partitions to hold planters. Wanna guess how long it will be until they rust and it stains the sidewalks? Paint was invented for a reason. In other places they created a "rain garden" to collect the rain from the roofs, nothing wrong with that, but then added a cement cascade which is now coating itself in algae. You know, sunlight, slow moving water and what to do you find? Go look at any creek and you'll see the same slime on the rocks. So to try and fix that, they installed zinc in the water.... so now we are adding heavy metals to the water that is supposed to drain into our sewer system...

On the other hand the Seahawks would have joined the Sonics in some other city without Paul. But his getting the Exhibition hall revenue in the deal shows that he's clearly not dumb.

But don't get me wrong, without both of these guys and their billions and all the people they employ, and the high wages they pay, this place would look more like Detroit than San Francisco North.

GaryP

Posted Wed, May 18, 12:42 a.m. Inappropriate

I stand in solidarity with dbreneman.

NickBob

Posted Wed, May 18, 10:26 a.m. Inappropriate


What do you mean "if" ?

jabailo

Posted Wed, May 18, 11:29 a.m. Inappropriate

I was going to say "What? They don't already?" but several people beat me to it.

eyesopen

Posted Wed, May 18, 5:21 p.m. Inappropriate

The last thing this city needs is more architecturally bland, nearly empty buildings like the ones that form Paul Allen's tinker toy set at Lake Union, and more dumb ass, insanely expensive projects like the SLUT, the $300,000,000 makeover of 6 blocks of Mercer Street and South Lake Union Park, which looks like a nuclear blast zone.

If Bill Gates gook over Seattle, the already glacial pace at which the City of Seattle accomplishes projects will, like Windows running on a PC, get slower, and s-l-o-w-e-r and s---l---o---w---e---r over time. It's way better if Bill stays focused on erasing polio from the face of the earth and wisely continues to stay out of local politics.

Mud Baby

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