State Relations

January 19, 2007

Viaduct and Sonics Debates Provide Lively Distractions

A lot of what happens in Olympia during the first few weeks of session isn’t really all that glamorous.  Lots of meetings, committee hearings and endless walking between buildings in the rain (and snow) often leads to a familiar monotony.  You nod to legislators, staff and other lobbyists as you rush from one place to another in constant search of a warm, dry spot to make your cell phone call.

That’s why it’s always a nice break from the regular routine to have some high drama play out right in front of your eyes.  This week’s debate over the Alaskan Way Viaduct truly had the town buzzing because it is so rare to see such hard-lined positions materialize this early in the session.  Everyone is speculating about the “end game” and that keeps the hallway and cafeteria conversations lively and more interesting than the fortunes of our men’s basketball team (which I am forced to defend on a daily basis).

Similarly, yesterday’s appearance by Seattle Supersonic’s Vice President Lenny Wilkins at a hearing of the Senate Ways and Means Committee only served to prove that grown men and women are really little children at heart.   Staffers and lobbyists with little affiliation with the Sonics request for state assistance for a new arena could be seen popping in and out of Senate Hearing Room 4 straining to catch a glimpse of the legendary coach and player.  Yes, even I managed to sneak a peek.

By next week it will be back to the usual routine and usual conversation as the snow has melted and a familiar drizzling rain has settled in over the Olympia skies.  But today, we can have fun speculating endlessly over a tunnel, elevated structure, or nothing at all and whether the Sonics arena will be in Renton or Bellevue, or maybe even Oklahoma City.