If you were thinking that the Hansen Team’s secretive “what has been submitted, what is the city waiting on, what is Hansen delaying on” approach to getting an arena approved for building is not transparent, you’re not alone.
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has to make a lot of calls to city workers and still can’t figure out what to write about, so “we need transparency” it is!
On Friday, the city’s department of planning and development revealed the proposed arena’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) had been delayed three more months because of the complexity of issues involved. That realistically pushes well into 2016 the time frame for issuing any permits for the project proposed by entrepreneur Chris Hansen.
And it prompted an unusual news release from Murray’s office — on Saturday morning, no less — saying he wants more transparency from the planning department his office oversees.
Translated into plain English: Murray is taking heat over the latest delay (ed: or he hates getting phone calls from sports reporters on Friday afternoon).
“There’s some frustration out there on both sides of this,’’ (Murray) said in a phone interview. “People on both sides are struggling to understand the process.’’
Murray is not exactly a huge sports fan, but does perform ceremonial functions (waves to the crowd) at playoff games. Mayor Murray really has not been involved in any of the arena approval steps (they were before he took office) and, aside from Geoff getting him on the phone to talk about sports, I’m not sure what he’s supposed to be “ushering along” to please sports fans currently distracted by OT wins by a team playing the worst game of the season (until the last minutes of the 4th quarter). But, transparency!
Frankly, this arena saga could use greater transparency from all sides.
Hansen also could be more transparent. Much of this now yearlong EIS delay stemmed from him not submitting requested paperwork until late September.
It’s also worth noting the city isn’t compiling the EIS. That falls to consultant Katy Chaney of URS Corp.
But we don’t know exactly why she needs more time. Neither does the mayor, from what he told me.
And that’s problematic. It’s OK in a democracy to request that anyone wanting public money be put through rigorous screening. What isn’t OK is dragging things out indefinitely for reasons few understand.
There’s no evidence that’s being done here. But when the public remains in the dark about a process — even if via ignorance — it can lead to abuse.
Murray needs to spread the word about how this process will unfold. Some sports fans might not like the result, but they’ll at least see it coming.
If only someone in the driver’s seat on EIS submissions, the state of the ownership group, if the Bucks are for sale, and very familiar with where things stand had a website they could put that on….. but then what would Geoff do to keep busy?