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Politics Northwest

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

February 27, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Robo calls on City Council, South Lake Union rezone

CORRECTED VERSION: This post was corrected Feb. 28, 2013. A previous version said Peter Steinbrueck currently worked a a lobbyist for two groups opposing 40-story buildings in South Lake Union.

Two new sets of campaign robo calls are lighting up home answering machines in Seattle. One seems to be gauging public familiarity with current city council members who are up for reelection, and the other tests the public response to higher buildings in South Lake Union. Neither indicates a specific candidate for whom the calls are being made.

The first call asks respondents to say whether someone is a Seattle City Council member, then continues with a list of all the council members who are running for reelection this year — Sally Bagshaw, Mike O’Brien, Nick Licata and Richard Conlin. Apparently to throw off those who don’t closely follow city politics, Judy Nicastro’s name is thrown into the mix. She was a one-term council member voted out after the Strippergate campaign contribution scandal.

After saying whether or not you recognize the council member, you are asked to rate them from strongly favorable to strongly unfavorable. The automated voice doesn’t ask for the respondents’ ages, political affiliations or whether or not they are registered Seattle voters.

The second robo call deals with the proposed upzone in South Lake Union and asks detailed questions about whether the proposed 40-story buildings are too tall and whether or not corridors to protect views of the Space Needle, the Olympic Mountains or Puget Sound from neighborhood parks should be enacted. Changing the rules to protect views, the caller says, would mean shorter buildings or larger setbacks from the street. Respondents are then asked if they strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the proposal for taller buildings.

The final question says that “supporters say protecting crucial view corridors is not anti-development it’s smart development that recognizes and protects things that are part of the fabric of the city while still allowing for growth and change. Knowing this, do you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose or strongly oppose the proposal for taller buildings?”

The arguments sound like something mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck might make. He was a lobbyist for two groups opposing the 40-story buildings near Lake Union. But when contacted, Steinbrueck, a former city councilmember,  said he hates robo calls and wouldn’t spend his campaign money to commission them. His suspicion fell on Council member Tim Burgess, better funded, who recently released a study saying Mayor Mike McGinn’s proposal for much taller buildings in South Lake Union doesn’t return a great enough public benefit in exchange for the upzone. The Burgess campaign, though, said they have not done any polling relating to South Lake Union.

0 Comments | More in Politics Northwest, Seattle City Council | Topics: robo calls, seattle city council, South Lake Union

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