Probably not a single Islander is in favor of tolls on I-90. But Islanders get little sympathy off-Island on the subject of tolls. Just turn on KIRO talk radio to hear a barrage of jokes about how rough tolls will make it for Islanders’ maids and gardeners to get to “poverty rock.” Against that political backdrop, the question for Mercer Island is, what is the best strategy to prevent tolls?
Dan Grausz, together with Bruce Bassett and Debbie Bertlin, comprise the city’s I-90 Steering Committee, which has been the principal architect of the city’s multi-pronged strategy to defeat the tolling proposal: including a legal attack on imposing tolls on I-90 to pay for SR-520 improvements and defects in the environmental process. Dan has exactly the skills — managerial, legal, and a long record of working with politicians and citizens — to see this strategy through to success.
Nobody knows better than Dan, an attorney and business executive, who is Holland America’s executive vice-president and its former general counsel, how to use the city’s legal position as a lever outside of the courtroom to negotiate with the state and other players to keep tolls off Mercer Island. Dan was the Councilmember who suggested hiring K&L Gates, a nationally recognized law firm, and in particular, Islander Bill Chapman from that firm, to represent the city. They have done an exceptional job.
The supporters of Kevin Scheid (Leithe letter, Mercer Island Reporter, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013) couldn’t be more wrong in stating that Dan’s (and the city’s) willingness to talk to the federal and state governments undercuts the city’s legal position. That statement starkly shows how ill-suited Scheid would be to represent the city in the face of this huge threat to our economic health and quality of life.
The Scheid supporters mentioned in the letter are all strong proponents of starting a lawsuit. Those of us who are lawyers know that lawsuits are unpredictable and would never stake the future of Islanders on their outcome. After years managing Holland America’s legal and business affairs, as well as participating in the oversight of the city’s from his seat on the Council, nobody knows better than Dan how to use the city’s pending legal claims to negotiate the best solution possible for the city — no tolls. That is why Dan’s and the city’s multi-pronged strategy makes so much sense, and why we need to reelect him.