The MHN Blog is a companion to the Maritime Heritage Network, a not-for-profit, comprehensive website of maritime heritage organizations, attractions, and activities in the Pacific Northwest. The blog highlights news, activities, and resources useful to the entire maritime heritage community. All views expressed are the author's own. Opposing views are welcome.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Media, Blogosphere, Elected Officials Erupt Over Wawona; The Mayor's Historic Power Play

The Seattle media and blogosphere are all over the Wawona story and the mayors office's threats to demolish it: Seattle P-I, Seattle MetBlogs, Livejournal,, and KIRO-TV. I was interviewed by KOMO 1000 AM (can't find the story link, tho), and I was contacted by KCPQ, Channel 13. (If you know of any more links, let us know via the comments link below.) King County Councilmember Bob Ferguson e-mailed me. His district includes South Lake Union Park. I was also called and e-mailed by Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steinbrueck, who called the threats "appalling," and vowed to use his council powers to call Tim Ceis and Ken Bounds to account. He said this was just another example of bullying tactics by the mayor's office.

But now it appears this goes far beyond mere bullying and an old boat, because it involves the future of one of Seattle's most venerated institutions, the Museum of History & Industry, and a highly visible piece of Mayor Nickels' urban ambitions, South Lake Union Park. MOHAI has now decided to move to SLUP, a decision that's been in the works for several months. It appears that the city has decided to hand the Wawona problem to a prospective tenant as both parties prepare to negotiate a sale or lease of the Naval Reserve Building. I speak only for myself, but this is a political tactic by the mayor worthy of Machiavelli.

I'm only speculating, but I would think that MOHAI must feel it should show good faith to Nickels by solving the Wawona problem for him before he is willing to sign a deal. Wawona is now a pawn in a larger game about a key amenity at South Lake Union and Allentown that could affect the future of a beloved Seattle museum (which will do all it can to save Wawona). I have lived in Seattle almost all my life, and I have never seen such cynicism on the part of a local elected official.


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