Morning Fizz: Tunnel planners now see a double whammy

Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring: More bad news for the tunnel; Democratic campaign expenditures; city hall departures; Jay Inslee at NARAL luncheon; and more.
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Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring: More bad news for the tunnel; Democratic campaign expenditures; city hall departures; Jay Inslee at NARAL luncheon; and more.

1. On the heels of February's news that tolls on the new deep-bore tunnel are now expected to come in at half the level of earlier estimates ($200 million, compared to an initial $400 million estimate, with the missing $200 million to be made up with federal dollars), tunnel planners now see a double whammy: they believe funding the $200 million could end up costing more than previously anticipated.

That's because the $200 million will have to be paid for by toll-backed bonds (bonds that rely on tolls as the first source to pay investors), which cost more than general revenue bonds because they come with additional requirements set by the state treasurer, including a large maintenance reserve fund. In a worst-case scenario, Wall Street investors could look at the bonds and decide they're too risky.

The state's Advisory Committee on Tolling and Traffic Management was supposed to meet last Wednesday. After WSDOT briefed committee members on the newly elevated numbers, the committee canceled its meeting to "get more information" on the new numbers. The next meeting is Wednesday, June 27.

2. Tacoma Democrat Jack Connelly, a trial lawyer who's running for the open 27th District state Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Debbie Regala, has outraised his opponent, current 27th District state house Rep. Jeannie Darnielle (also a Democrat), by a factor of nearly 4-to-1, with $205,000 to Darnielle's $56,000.

The catch: Connelly has spent nearly everything he has -- -more than $200,000, plus loans of more than $87,000. Darnielle, in contrast, has spent just over $15,000, leaving her with more than $40,000 on hand.

Where did Connelly's money go? The candidate himself hasn't returned a call and email for comment, but according to the state Public Disclosure Commission, his top expenditures include: $34,000 on polls by DMA Market Research; $42,000 to Olympia campaign consulting firm TR Strategies; $17,000 to Tacoma-based Gayle Orth Catering for a campaign event; $15,000 to consultant Colby Underwood for fundraising; and $3,000 to rent the LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma for an event.

3. Betsy Graef, a longtime staffer for Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess, left her job last week, the fourth departure from Burgess's office since 2009. Although Burgess' office, in an unusual move, has made no official announcement about Graef's reportedly abrupt departure, Burgess says the decision was "mutual," and that Graef simply "wanted to pursue other things."

Her position is open.

4. Three Seattle Democrats — state Sens. David Frockt (D-46, N. Seattle), Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill), and Sharon Nelson (D-34, Vashon, West Seattle) — have been put in charge of the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee for the 2012 elections. In the restructuring laid out in a recent email by outgoing Senate majority leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane), Frockt and Murray were made co-chairs of the committee and will be in charge of fundraising. 

Nelson will be filling a new positon, "candidate chair," coordinating mentors (sitting senators) to work with Democratic challengers.

5. Mayor Mike McGinn is being accused (once again) of using a scary price tag and delay tactics. This time, it's not the tunnel (and see above, he may be turning out to be right about that one); it's the U.S. Department of Justice's proposal to oversee the Seattle Police Department that McGinn's criticizing.  And the Seattle Times reports this morning that McGinn, according to the U.S. Attorney and the city's own internal memo, he may be misstating the facts.

6. As part of the city's efforts to "clean up" Third Avenue downtown (council member Tom Rasmussen's office says city departments will jointly introduce a work plan to improve public safety on the troubled corridor next week), the city has suggested that businesses play amplified classical music on the street — the theory being that it will annoy loiterers and troublemakers.

That theory was borne out, albeit not exactly as the city intended, last week, when an passerby reportedly cut the cord to a stereo playing at the Tobaccorner, a smoke shop at Third and Pine. Staff at the shop, contacted Monday night, were unable to comment on the reported vandalism.

7. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee, who received NARAL Pro-Choice Washington's Power of Choice award at the pro-choice group's annual luncheon at the downtown Seattle Convention Center yesterday, promised NARAL members that if he's elected governor, the state will be pro-choice during his administration and "even after I'm gone."

Talking, somewhat vaguely, about "the value of individual liberty," Inslee said, "We need a governor who will stand up for pro-choice when it is necessary, not just when it is politically convenient."

The lunch, which featured dozens of state legislators and hopeful candidates — including Republican state Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41), a onetime NARAL PAC board member who alienated many pro-choice advocates when he voted against this year's Reproductive Parity Act — raised more than $50,000 for Inslee, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, as well as down-ballot pro-choice candidates.


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