There is a big difference between walking the walk and talking the talk.
When Mike McGinn, then an unlikely candidate for mayor first told me he was a big basketball fan and would support a reasonable plan to bring the Sonics back I did not believe him.
I didn't believe him because liberal politicians in Seattle have never prioritized sports. Also in this town I love so much it seems like everybody tells you they care about your issue to your face but what it amounts to is "good luck with that, if you are successful I'll come to the victory party."
What I had never seen prior to Mayor McGinn was somebody who said something was important to him and then, when the opportunity presented it really seized the day to participate, not as a cheerleader, but as someone who was willing to fight for it and absorb all the attacks that came with that fight.
Part of the reason his is viewed as divisive is that Mayor McGinn held firm on our issues while our enemies at the Port, the Seattle Mariners and their associates played hardball to try to kill the arena. They held nothing back, did everything in their power to define his actions publicly via the Seattle Times and forced him to pay a big price for his advocacy.
I am tremendously happy to see Ed Murray making substantial statements in support of the arena. It is a pattern I want to encourage and not something I take lightly. I also note that Ed was a big supporter of Husky Stadium and did meet with me on more than one occasion between 2008 and 2010 to discuss statewide participation in building an arena to bring the Sonics home. HOWEVER I think that the timing of this commitment deserves some scrutiny as it does seem awfully convenient to draw votes and weaken McGinn enthusiasm among Sonics fans.
The problem with Murray's position on this issue and others is that the pragmatic hope for compromise frequently falls apart the moment members of an overly broad constituency actually start to realize that they aren't going to get everything they want. In this case it is great to say that the arena is an opportunity and it is great to say that both the maritime industrial community and sports can co-exist but that pragmatic view does not address the very likely reality that Maritime will not accept co-existence or that the state will choose yet again to deny Seattle funds for substantial infrastructure improvement. Leading to the question, What happens then?
Having spent more than a year waiting for the reasonable people to take over and come cut a deal to provide infrastructure and transit improvements to Sodo in exchange for mutually supporting each other's goals. I am skeptical that the other side will suddenly become more willing to accept reasonable compromise. After last October's council vote I proposed to all the significant players that we go jointly to legislature and ask for state funds for transit. We would have been very effective; combining the political reach of the Port of Seattle with the grass roots volume of sports fans but their leadership was scared of the radical base and unwilling to be viewed as compromising.
It is difficult to believe that a new mayor will make all these issues go away. Beating the drums of cooperative effort is great during the campaign but at the end of the day you can expect that Howard Lincoln, Peter Steinbrueck, Adam Glickman, Peter Goldman, all the port commissioners, ILWU, The Martime Trade Council and all the other people who have endorsed Senator Murray for mayor are going to be pushing to define that compromise in a way that is a win for them and a loss for us.
What we need is a mayor who will fight against that push. We want a mayor who will take their blows and stand up for what we believe in, even if it makes them unpopular among the political class, chamber of commerce and Seattle Times.
I know that Ed Murray is saying the right things now, but I don't know that he will be willing to fight that fight for us when people's demands inevitably start to clash.
Mike McGinn fights for us. He is a proven commodity to take the damage and not waver. He cares less about the Chambers good graces and more about doing what the people want and most importantly has offered us a real and significant voice, not just two weeks before the campaign, but in fact over the last 2 years of his administration.
I am significantly encouraged by Senator Murray's comments yesterday and hope that if push comes to shove he delivers on them but I remain firmly committed to Mayor Mike McGinn. He's shown us what he will do and action speaks louder than words.