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Politics Northwest

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

July 6, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Steinbrueck was still ‘just a citizen’ during June 18 arena testimony

Former Seattle City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck
Photo credit: Seattle Times

Former Seattle City Councilman Peter Steinbrueck told Seattle Times reporter Bob Young this week that he “had no communication with them (the Port) prior to the testimony,” he gave at a June 18 meeting of the Metropolitan King County Council.

Critics of the partnership have suggested that Steinbrueck was not being completely truthful June 18, when he portrayed himself as an independent party. “I’m just a citizen,” he said at one point.

To see whether Steinbrueck was already negotiating with the Port about a more formal arrangement at the time of his testimony, we requested all communication between Steinbrueck and the Port. What we found was an April e-mail in which Steinbrueck asked the Port for a copy of a letter about the arena. Later in April, Steinbrueck filed some routine paperwork registering his consulting business as a potential contractor for the Port.

It’s hard to know whether that was all done to pave the way for a contract, but Steinbrueck says he was being truthful June 18 when he portrayed himself as independent of the Port’s interests.

Steinbrueck said King County Councilman Larry Phillips suggested he speak at the June 18 meeting, so he did. The possibility of consulting for the Port “was not on my mind,” he said yesterday.

After the meeting, Steinbrueck said he suggested to Port CEO Tay Yoshitani that “we get together to talk about some ideas.” They did, on June 22. On June 25,  Steinbrueck submitted a proposal. He signed a contract June 28.

“I’m a consultant,” he said. “I work with major mission-driven institutions and governments. That’s what I do. I certainly have an eye out for opportunities in that regard.”

On April 6, Steinbrueck wrote to Port staff asking for a copy of a letter the Port wrote about its concerns about the arena. He did that for his own purposes, he said, and not in preparation to do work for the Port.

“I actually have been following this issue … and I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable sitting on the sidelines on it,” he said.

Steinbrueck said his history working on land-use will guide his work for the Port. He wants to talk more about the land-use implications of putting an arena in Sodo, and whether it is consistent with the city’s land-use plans.

Comments | More in Basketball arena, Politics Northwest | Topics: Peter Steinbrueck, Port of Seattle, Tay Yoshitani


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