The Seattle tunnel project—a.k.a. the Highway 99 tunnel—is two years behind schedule, millions over budget and has top officials jumping ship, but Jay Inslee doesn’t want to pull the plug on it just yet. Rather, our green governor has a unique proposal for how best to deal with the problem-plagued project.
Inslee told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson that the state must “crack down on the project’s contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners.” Ladies and gentlemen, our “deep-thinking” governor:
“Imagine you hire a contractor to remodel your house. What does a responsible homeowner do in that situation? You ride them and beat them like a cheap mule if you will. We are going to hold these people and this contract — they will be responsible.”
Inslee went onto insist that the state holds no responsibly for the project’s problems. That’s because the state “doesn’t run the Hitachi Zosen Sakai Works — the company that built Bertha.” Presumably, according to Inslee, if the state did control the company, Bertha (the tunnel boring machine) would have never stalled.
There’s one big problem with Inslee’s analogy/deflection of blame. You cannot hold a contractor responsible for your own incompetence. You see, Inslee fails to account for the fact that the state did not inform Seattle Tunnel Partners about the location of a steel pipe which was put in place by the state and which that Bertha struck on December 3, 2013, potentially causing the giant drill to overheat and stall.
Even a dispute review board ruled that the responsibility lies with the state, not Seattle Tunnel Partners. Members of the board found that a “crucial, primary document the state provided to Seattle Tunnel Partners (STP) — the geotechnical baseline report to describe soil conditions — is “silent” regarding the steel pipe. It does appear in secondary, reference documents.”
This isn’t a case of a contractor failing to keep up its part of the bargain. It’s a just another case of government incompetence.
On a side note, the folks running People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) isn’t too happy about our green governor’s analogy. PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange stated,
“PETA would have preferred that the governor said something more like the following: ‘I am going to make sure that our contractor works as hard as mightily strong and focused ants, who are known to work with little to no rest through an entire day and can lift 50 times their body weight, until the job is done, or beavers, who work at night and can carry mud and stones with their small forepaws and timber between their teeth to build a sturdy structure.”
Inslee, you’ve been warned. Next time, take the animal friendly route. You might have people wondering if your awkward and lengthy analogy will ever end, but you won’t incur the wrath of your friends at PETA.