Votes by Metropolitan King County Council Members Jane Hague and Kathy Lambert for a proposed professional basketball and hockey arena in Seattle are exacting a political toll.
Two Eastside developers and longtime supporters, Skip Rowley of Issaquah and Bob Wallace of Bellevue, emailed a letter to hundreds of business contacts saying the two council members “ignored the interest of their constituents” when they put the arena over the top on a 6-3 vote.
The County Council will take a second vote this month on a modified version of the $490 million agreement negotiated by investor Chris Hansen and the the Seattle City Council.
The developers’ letter said the initial deal would use scarce public resources in hard times, hurt Bellevue’s prospects for landing an arena, threaten to clog roads used by the Port of Seattle and be “a sweetheart deal” for Hansen.
“We didn’t send them to the County Council to make backroom deals,” the letter said.
The council members said there weren’t any secret deals and they were blindsided by what Hague, of Bellevue, called “the nastygram” sent by two longtime friends.
“It’s so naïve to think that Kathy and I, who I think are fairly adept and savvy council members, would cut a backroom deal when we can introduce legislation and negotiate right out in the transparency, the harsh light of day,” Hague said.
Lambert, from Redmond, said she and Hague addressed the concerns of Eastsiders and the Port by writing amendments requiring study of alternate sites and transportation issues. “We did not ignore the concerns of the people. We wrote amendments to strengthen things they told us,” she said.
Wallace said his main reason for opposing the arena deal is because a slowdown in freight movement through the Sodo neighborhood could lead more shipping companies to desert the Port of Seattle.
For Rowley and Wallace, Republican-leaning conservatives, the arena vote was their second big disappointment with the Republican council members in the past year. Hague and Lambert cast the deciding votes for a council-imposed $20 Metro Transit car-tab fee last year, reversing their previous position that voters should decide. They said they had negotiated Metro policy changes that would bring more buses to the Eastside.
After two maddening disappointments, Rowley said he probably won’t support Hague if she runs for office again.
Wallace said he will see what happens in the coming months. “Just because I disagree with somebody over something doesn’t mean I’m not going to continue to support them,” he said.
Rowley, Wallace, their wives and businesses have contributed more than $18,000 to Hague’s and Lambert’s campaigns since 2001, according to public disclosure records.