The latest example of the Seattle City Council living in a fantasy world where economics and not wasting taxpayer money are not part of this equation came from Councilman Mike O’Brien last week, as he led the effort to stop the Port of Seattle from actually doing its job to create jobs and maximize revenue from the waterfront by temporarily leasing Terminal 5 to Foss Maritime and its client, Shell Oil.
Left-wing blog PubliCola reported that O’Brien used a land use committee hearing to show how little he cares about the value of jobs for local residents, arguing that “If Terminal Five is not going to be used by Shell Oil, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing else we can do there. Let’s find whatever [other] options there are,” he said.
The fact that O’Brien is not a Port of Seattle commissioner and knows nothing about what options were available to those commissioners means little to him as he runs for re-election this year. It’s enough for him to know that oil might be involved in this transaction, and oil is bad (especially for his fundraising from the far-left environmentalists who are his electoral base).
O’Brien called into question whether the jobs created by Foss were worth it in the fantasy world he lives in. “He noted that while he’s heard the 417 new jobs figure from Foss before, he would like to see more specifics on whether that number means 417 new full-time positions or something less attractive such as part-time or sporadic employment over several years.”
Employing 417 people is evidently a bad thing for O’Brien, unless he sees the pay stubs to see if they meet his approval. At least O’Brien was being honest when he (ironically) said “There is a lot of posturing going on” about the Port-Foss lease, though perhaps he didn’t realize that he is leading the posturing (and environmental pandering) effort.
A Foss representative tried to explain the economics of the deal to O’Brien, pointing out that “the motivations for the Port’s decision to pick Foss stemmed from the need for (a) temporary tenant that could provide substantial revenue to hold Terminal Five over and during planned upgrades to handle larger ships and more cargo. ‘While Terminal Five is sitting empty, it costs the Port money”
Unfortunately, that logic was lost on O’Brien, because he just doesn’t think that Port Commissioners are thinking enough like him. O’Brien actually said “I don’t think they [the Port] saw this through a climate change–environmental community lens. I think they saw it through more of a jobs lens.”
Because seeing the value of using taxpayers resources through a “jobs lens” is evidently not the job of a Seattle Council member.