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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

July 3, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Port hires Peter Steinbrueck in arena battle

Former Seattle City Council member Peter Steinbrueck, a critic of the proposal to build a pro sports arena in Sodo, has been hired as a consultant by the Port of Seattle.

Steinbrueck’s contract with the Port calls for him to be paid up to $40,000 this year as a strategic adviser who will research and prepare strategic planning and communication, and represent the Port’s mission and interests in relation to the arena proposal. He will be paid at the rate of $175 per hour. Port officials have contended that a Sodo arena would threaten Port operations.

Steinbrueck signed the contract June 28, nine days after he gave a strong critique of the arena plan to the Metropolitan King County Council.

“I had no communication with them (the Port) prior to the testimony,” Steinbrueck said. He stressed he had “no billable time and had done nothing for the Port” at the time of his testimony to the county council.

Former chair of the city council’s land-use committee, Steinbrueck noted that he had a record of interest in protecting industrial lands in zoning debates. “This is not a new subject for me. I have experience and commitment, so the Port saw my testimony at King County and was impressed. They liked what I said and that led to my being hired.”

He said his intent was to start work for the Port on July 1.

Steinbrueck spoke to the Seattle Planning Commission on June 28 -– the day he signed his Port contract –- about the arena. He maintains he wasn’t representing the Port then. “No one paid me. No one asked me to go. No one told me what to say. I was there on my own,” he said.

An opinion piece by Steinbrueck was published on The Seattle Times editorial page Tuesday and disclosed his relationship with the Port. Steinbrueck said he believes Sodo is “the worst place” for a new arena because of the impediments it may create for Port operations.

Is his arena position a preview of next year’s mayor race? Is Steinbrueck planning to run against pro-arena Mayor Mike McGinn?

“Not at this point,” Steinbrueck said. “I’m busy with work.”

Comments | More in Basketball arena, homepage, Politics Northwest | Topics: Peter Steinbrueck, Sodo arena

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