Analyzing the ongoing Sonic Saga is a bit like trying to read a newspaper through a stained glass window – you can get pieces of it here and there, but complete comprehension always seems a bit tricky.
Take the relationship between the city of Seattle and the state of Washington, for example. Clearly, the city has seemingly given up on finding the missing $75 million to replace the money it was counting upon the state to provide. With that in mind, the missing money must come from somewhere, and that somewhere must be the state, no?
Well, if that is the case, would it not behoove the mayor to play nice with the legislature? And, if he’s going to play nice, why is he making comments like these? Or these?
In essence, Nickels bemoaned the interference he feels the city receives from the rest of the state, laying at least part of the blame at the feet of the government in Olympia. The good mayor even went so far as to suggest that Seattle secede from the state, although his handlers made it clear he was only speaking in jest. (Although, when someone makes the statement, “I am serious when I say we ought to talk about independence,” does it leave much room for interpretation?)
Naturally, Nickels’ comments, like many of the comments uttered by many parties in the recent past, are not to be taken completely at face value. And, the mayor cannot be blamed for feeling dissatisfied with the way the city has been jerked around (in their view) by the state, especially in regard to the KeyArena situation.
It also could be argued that Nickels was merely trying to prod the other levels of government to work a bit harder at finding solutions, rather than merely pointing fingers at others. And, honestly, if that was his motivation, I can understand it. Regardless of your feelings on funding for sports arenas – pro, anti, or somewhere in between – you have to agree that the state’s fence-straddling on this subject is tiresome.
Still, at a time when the two levels of government need to work together to keep the option of a Seattle-based solution to the Sonics’ dilemma, is saber-rattling the best technique to employ? Much as David Stern is the devil we must deal with in the NBA, Frank Chopp is a fixture in Olympia, and regardless of our personal opinions of his methods, he holds the keys to the state money chest. Chopp’s, well, foot-dragging nature is not going to change anytime soon, and while I do not know the man personally, I suspect that verbal threats aimed at his direction will not be productive.
In the big picture, Nickels’ comments may not mean anything, but legislators have long memories of perceived slights, and at a time when the city and the state need to display cooperation, the mayor’s words may come back to bite Sonic fans in the shorts.