Mayor Mike McGinn said his recommendation to deny a street vacation request in the West Seattle Whole Foods development was intended to start “a robust discussion.”
Mission accomplished. The controversy, now two weeks old, has roiled business circles, providing a template for how to (sorry, Dale Carnegie) lose friends and influence an election.
Shorter version: in mid-July, McGinn recommended denying vacation of a city-owned alley critical to the long-planned redevelopment of the former Huling Bros. property because Whole Foods, the anchor tenant, doesn’t pay its workers enough. Longer: He made up new city land-use policy to win support from the United Food and Commercial Workers, which immediately endorsed him.
The state chapter of the national commercial real estate development association NAOIP sent a protest letter to the Seattle City Council, saying McGinn’s decision “defies Seattle’s regulatory requirements” and sets the city on “an untested and dangerous path,” according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. The chapter’s local government affairs chairman, Donald Marcy, donated $500 to McGinn’s leading challenger, state Sen. Ed Murray, the day McGinn made the recommendation.
McGinn’s play also seriously ticked off one-time supporter David Meinert, a Seattle entertainment entrepreneur. Meinert (who donated to McGinn’s campaign in 2009 and to the McGinn-backed tunnel petition in 2011) contributed $700 to Murray on July 23.
The next day, Meinert, as first reported by Publicola, emailed a blistering critique of McGinn’s “political insanity” to the city council (which has ultimate authority on alley vacation issue):More