Jason Rantz is being his regular ignorant bullshit spewing self about Sound Transit. I was just going to ignore it, or maybe just make fun of it on Twitter, but, well about half way through, see if you can spot what sets me off.
With no direct voter oversight, the Sound Transit Board of Directors is responsible for spending billions of dollars on transit expansion. That may change thanks to five Democrats teaming up with 24 Republicans in the Senate. Now, transit activists are apoplectic.
I mean ST3 was literally approved by the voters. It was put on the ballot by an elected legislature and governor. The board is made up of elected officials, including King, Pierce and Snohomish countywide elected execs. But when will we let the people have a say?
The lawmakers are pushing legislation that changes the makeup of the board. If passed, the ST board would be directly elected so that board members may face voter consequences for some of their actions (like bilking taxpayers out of car tab fees with an obscenely inaccurate formula). Further, it forces the board to create districts so that King County won’t be over-represented.
Any democratically drawn up district is going to favor the large population centers. King County has more people in ST’s region. There were 829,469 votes on ST3 from King County, 277,141 from Pierce, and 193,114 from Snohomish. If districts have an equal number of voters, there will be more than 60% of King County representatives to just be regular represented. There may be some population variations, but it’s a decent proxy.
Martin H. Duke, a blogger at Seattle Transit Blog, is not happy with these Democrats. In Duke’s world, no Republican supports high-quality transit and Democrats who see a problem with the current ST board structure must not care either.
“This bill is a transparent attempt to override the will of the voters in approving Sound Transit 3 by adding yet more veto points to the process,” Duke wrote.
That’s a great point! If the legislature is willing to give an ST board taxing authority so the region doesn’t have to go back to the legislature hat in hand every time we want to expand transit, that would be a compromise worth looking at. But that’s not the proposal.
He’s wrong. It doesn’t change the results of ST3. ST3 couldn’t be dismantled as a result of this bill. Instead, it’s an attempt to make sure the voters have a say in how their money is spent and that King County transit activists don’t get more money than they should. I am a big supporter of light rail but not happy with how it’s being approached. As a voter, I have no way to impact the decisions of unelected politicians when they waste my money.
Literally 1 of the 18 ST Board members is not elected. That’s the secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation. You literally had the chance to vote on at least one of those people if you’re paying the taxes. Anyway, enough of this disagreeing about how to organize the ST Board bullshit, let’s call Martin Duke a communist in the jack-offiest way possible and for no reason:
Activists like Duke don’t want the board accountable to the voters because the voters don’t support some of the crazy ideas Duke and his “comrades” support. He speaks for a loud but small group of activists. Understandably, he’s upset that he’s about to lose his unearned power over Sound Transit.
Really, “comrades”? Comrades? I might even have ignored it if it wasn’t in quotes. But there’s no way that’s not wink wink nod nod calling Duke and other activists communists. Fuck off. Oh a person wants a different organizational structure for a subregional government agency and so they’re a communist. You know the scariest part of the Soviet Union is how they handled transportation governance in the Ural Oblast. Comrades? Fucking unbelievable.
One of the Democrats who supported the legislation is State Senator Guy Palumbo of the 1st district. He actually supports accountability where Sound Transit represents the voters, not special interests. I supported his efforts to defeat the disturbingly dishonest incumbent, Luis Moscoso.
The First District goes pretty far into King County. You think he should run on “King County won’t be over-represented” in ST next time he’s in a competitive race?
“I supported the bill because I believe that any government organization that manages $54 billion in tax dollars needs to be directly elected and accountable to the voters,” the Senator told me. “It’s a good governance thing for me, it has nothing to do with dismantling ST3.”
Is there a timeframe for that? Oh, it’s between now and 2041. Oh, and it’s in 2041 dollars, so less than that in today’s money and even less in when the voters voted on it dollars.
Senator Palumbo and his colleagues should be celebrated for breaking the Olympia gridlock. Instead, thanks to the reaction of militant transit activists, he’s getting harassed.
Did someone imply he was a communist?
He received an email where he was called a “bastard” with the sign off “Get cancer.” Shameful.
I mean, that sucks. The cancer thing. Bastard is something I’m guessing every elected official at every level has been called. Oh hey, remember when your colleague Dori Monson got people to harass Senator Kohl-Welles for changing state laws that say “fireman” to “firefighter”? I’m sure you were equally outraged about that, but I’m just having trouble finding it.*
“I understand they disagree about an elected board and reasonable people can disagree on policy,” Senator Palumbo told me. “However to paint it as me being anti-transit, or as wanting to roll back ST3 is patently false. I come from New York where there are real mass transit options, unlike the Seattle area. I am an open advocate for large new investments in infrastructure, far beyond what we have done in the Connecting Washington package and ST3.”
So take away another veto point in exchange. Give them the ability to raise an income tax and as much car tab as they want, and to not have to beg the legislature.
This is a common sense bill. It deserves some changes (Palumbo wants to make the board positions paid and I support that), but bully activists want to kill it. They’ve been getting a free ride on the backs of drivers for too long. Let’s change that and come up with policies that are truly supporting multi-modal transportation.
Oh God! The current proposal is to have the part time non experts not even be paid? Why are you going all out for that? Anyhoo, solid ending.
* Full disclosure: I did not waste my time googling that. I’ve been writing this post for far too long already.