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Originally published Wednesday, February 23, 2011 at 3:58 PM

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State of the mayor: McGinn touts goals as he jabs at tunnel

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn delivered his state-of-the-city address Tuesday. It was a lot better than last year. He was passionate about his proposed Families and Education Levy, but he still delved into some of his trademark divisive politics.

A MAYOR'S state-of-the-city address is often a dull recitation of past accomplishments and future goals. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is no ordinary mayor. Last year, he simply brought notes to City Council chambers and rambled.

Expectations, therefore, for this year's address were low. The mayor exceeded those and started off well, joking about his vigorous disagreements with the City Council. But he also rattled off areas of common ground with each council member.

The mayor's speech was a knockoff of President Obama's State of the Union address, titled "Winning the Future." Borrowing from Obama, the mayor touted innovation, education and building next-generation infrastructure, such as high-speed rail and broadband.

He did a solid job touting his upcoming Families and Education Levy, making a compelling case for programs serving low-income and minority families. It remains a difficult sell because the price tag doubled.

The mayor, who lost 45 pounds, was well dressed and well coifed and delivered his 50-minute address in his calm, lawyerly tone.

To his credit, he did not duck challenges facing the police department. Violent crime is down in Seattle but so is trust between police and the community. "Right now," he said, "that trust is in danger because of the hateful words and tragic actions of some of our police officers."

The mayor could not resist a few jabs at the downtown tunnel.

"I believe the project is too expensive and too risky ... we need to let the public decide," he said, later adding, "The old politics was the well-connected going behind closed doors to decide what's best for us."

McGinn unplugged. The mayor detests the tunnel replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and could not contain himself in his Tuesday speech.

His presentation had plenty of warm shout-outs to average citizens who make the city better. But the mayor should stop aiming every arrow in his quiver at the tunnel.

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