It’s Election Day today, though you wouldn’t know it by reading the front page of the Seattle Times, which devotes its biggest chunk of column-inch real estate to telling us that 784 people are waiting for a copy of Khaled Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns” at the Seattle Public Library. (That the library has long waitlists for popular books, would only come as news to folks who don’t use it.)
Of course, library books are paid for with taxes, you know, those things the Times constantly rails against, but which voters here seem to constantly pass because they like things like library books… taxes that are more likely to pass in high turnout elections. Which may explain why the Times is so hush-hush about Election Day (shhh… don’t let the voters know,) whereas the P-I fills two-thirds of its front page with an article on controversial Prop 1. Hmm… trains, cars, bikes and buses… you mean all those commuters depend on public investment? Who knew?
Yup, even low-impacting biking requires building infrastructure, and both papers agree that Seattle’s new 10-year Bycycle Master Plan is front page news, calling for 118 miles of new bike lanes and 19 miles of trails.
David Hiller, advocacy director for the Cascade Bicycle Club, which worked with the city to develop the plan, said it isn’t perfect but deserves an “A.”
Not perfect, huh? Then I fully expect Hiller and his friends at the Sierra Club to dress up as polar bears and picket the council. In that spirit, I’ve decided to vehemently oppose the plan because despite its goal of tripling bicycling in Seattle by 2017, it won’t do anything to relieve congestion. Of course, nothing short of The Rapture™ would relieve congestion, and in Seattle, even then not so much.
And speaking of The Rapture™, the WA state Republican House Caucus is beginning to look like some pre-Tribulation prophesy come true, with yet another member leaving his stunned colleagues behind screaming “Jesus Christ!” Rep. Jim Dunn (R-Frat House Row) reportedly made an “explicit” and “inappropriate” remark to a young female staffer, prompting House minority leader Richard DeBolt to take the unusual step of asking Democratic speaker Frank Chopp to strip Dunn of all committee assignments and travel reimbursements. Wow. That must have been some remark. A pitcher of beer and a muckraking post against the political enemy of your choice to the first of the 30 or so witnesses to forward me a direct quote.
In other signs that the End Times are upon us, supposed fringe candidate Ron Paul raised a GOP record $4.3 million dollars in online contributions in one day, despite the fact that he is, you know, Ron Paul. Or, I suppose, because he is Ron Paul, and thus the only Republican presidential candidate running on an anti-war platform. The media and political establishment can try to dismiss this if they want, but this is historic. I’m not sure that Paul even knows what the Internet is, but his supporters sure do, and his burgeoning grassroots campaign is a sign of things to come. One of these days a not-batshit-crazy longshot will discover the magic formula, and turn national politics upside down.
But for the moment, I’d just settle for some really high voter turnout. It’s Election Day, so put down the Times, walk away from your computer… and VOTE!
Goldy, you might want to brush up on #1 on the list I’m posting the link for.
N in Seattle spews:
michael, you might want to brush up on #1 on the list I’m posting the link for.
Or perhaps this one:
RTID = Stupid spews:
Let’s say the voters reject the massive sales tax proposition loosely known as “Roads and Transit.” We should have a more progressive revenue raising plan for the next go-round.
Who can list the best alternatives to sales taxes?
Corporate income taxes, pollution taxes, RFID-chip tolling (variably priced to reduced congestion at peak times at the key chokepoints), etc.
Put on your thinking caps – share your ideas.
Nah, I got it.
Ira Sacharoff spews:
You’re a patient man. A daughter taking trumpet lessons?
I had a roommate in college learning the trumpet. It’s not exactly a quiet instrument, and sounds horribly bad when not mastered. Get a good set of earplugs.
Dream on. We got sales taxes, property taxes and a little bit of MVET. To raise enough money via polling/congestion pricing, you’d have to raise the tolls so high you wouldn’t need to build any roads when you’re done, because 80-percent of commuters couldn’t afford to drive anymore.
You won’t find a bigger proponent of the income tax than me, but take it from somebody who is working in the trenches on this issue, it’s going to take years.
RTID = Stupid spews:
Here are some other examples of superior revenue-raisers for transportation infrastructure, in addition to those mentioned in post # 3:
gas tax increases,
tax on payroll size (as TriMet imposes),
a per-mile charge on vehicle use, and
a per-employee monthly charge on employers (as ST already has authority to impose).
Point is, there are far better ways to raise revenue than sales taxes and MVETs. Businesses are the primary beneficiaries of trains and uncongested roads – they should pay their fair share. The sales tax rate is way too high around here already.
Perfect Voter spews:
Opponents like Stupid @3 clearly have no clue about how things work politically in this state, as you so aptly point out @6, Goldy. We have a lot of newcomers and young adults in this state who think that mere wishing can bring about the changes they seek. Those of us more seasoned observers (and operators) know that sometimes you have to cook the meal with the ingredients in the kitchen, not those you don’t have and can’t obtain.
I don’t know if Prop 1 is going to pass or not, but it’s clearly the best compromise (not a pejorative) that could be gotten, and any “Plan B” is years away. Best hope for a Plan B is after Sound Transit’s Link light rail begins operating in 2009. Experience in nearly all other North American cities, when new light rail comes on line, people demand more. Fall of 2010 could be the time when those demands are realized and another program gets to the ballot. Three years late, three years more expensive.
And here is an example of the real world: ST doesn’t have the authority to levy any of the taxes you suggest, and there’s no way the Legislature is going to give it to them anytime soon.
You in the do nothing camp can sit on your hands a dream about how we might do things better, but the longer we put off solving our problems, the harder it will be to convince legislators and voters to trust the type of real tax restructuring we need to put our house in order.
You’re just playing right into the hands of the anti-government folks.
Plan B years away?
Hmmm. Apparently the Governor didn’t get the memo.
But, of course, a “seasoned operator” like you probably already knew this. Right?
@6 @3 Goldy RTID =
Well, if prop 1 does fail, this issue will be back on the table. I for one think the prop should have included the full costs of funding the different projects, including a commitment to toll roads where needed.
I vote for Prop 1 but did so with great distaste at the way the thing was written. The critics were correct that this was written as a kind of blackmail with a post facto effort to convince a divers constituency with conflicting interests that they would get their fair share. The lack of real support form Gregoire and Nickles sure did not help either.
If this fails, rather than abandoning the possibly good work that went into its planning, how about retooling the political side? This would entail coming out wiht something Sims, Nickles, and Gregoire would all feel comfortable campaigning for. It would include an accountability mechanism requiring the KC Council, City Council, etc to review this on a regular basis. And, of course the proposed funding package would include completion of the planned projects.
Am I being simplistic? Or maybe it will pass and we can then worry about who the hell is running the thing/
Maybe … we could have the Port run it or create an elected position as regional transport director? Perhaps the position might include being in charge of the County Elections?
Read what the governor is saying. She’s talking about 520. She’s talking about governance reform (ie lopping the head off Sound Transit and diluting the power of Seattle voters across a broader, regional agency.) Maybe a little “transit” thrown in there to help a roads package pass, but I don’t see her advocating for light rail.
The pro-rail/anti-Prop1 folks have simply been played. We’re simply not going to get any sort of rail package anytime soon.
BFD he got 40,000 people to give him a hundred bucks, or many less to max out their donations. Unlike candidates who are, though its boggles the mind, less obsessed with show, RonPaul seems uniquely prone to stunts that having nothing to do with winning primaries.
I realize that the Seattle folks (having been one) don’t regard Pierce county/Tacoma as being either civilized or significant, but I’m pretty sure that Prop1 was dead on arrival down here because of the Cross Base Highway. Only a few yuppies from Puyallup have the slightest interest in Ladenberg’s folly. To what extent that will impact the vote total remains to be seen, but it was a very unfortunate blackmail by Ladenberg, and caused my vote against it.
I think one of the major changes you will see is the funding source. The RTID polling going back to 2003 showed that a sales tax increase was the least popular funding mechanism.
(see pages 27-31)
Since then, the idea of tolling, especially congestion tolling, has really caught on. King County just received a $100m+ grant from USDOT to start a congestion tolling project. It also helps that funding these projects through user fees is much more popular with voters than with general tax increases – a point we have seen time and time again in public polling over the last several months.
Plus, with congestion tolling, you make your existing infrastructure start working again. The money it generates is gravy. But it’s some pretty good gravy to rebuild bridges, build transit, etc.
Oh, and by the way, you’re dead wrong on the amount of revenue that congestion pricing will raise.
(see page 32)
It estimates that annual revenue from system wide congestion pricing in the central Puget Sound would generate $1.6 billion annually without increasing general taxes. I believe the RTID/ST2 financing package generates about 1/3 of that.
For anyone that wants a good primer on the future of congestion pricing in our area without all of the campaign rhetoric, Crosscut did an excellent multi-part series on the topic:
N in Seattle spews:
According to chadt:
I’m surprised and disappointed that the reality of the story didn’t get to you, chadt. While it’s true that the Cross Base was put into Prop.1 in order to get Ladenburg to sign off on it, it was also put on the to-do list as the very last thing to be “built”, and “would” go ahead only if there was still money around that hadn’t gone into earlier (meaningful) projects.
No one other than John Ladenburg wants to, or intends to, or will build it. Once he’s out of office, the Cross Base will go to bad-idea-heaven, where it belongs. In personal discussions, the Roads&Transit people made this very clear to me. It was unequivocally and solely a means to get the thing on the Pierce County ballot.
RTID = Stupid spews:
@ 9: “ST doesn’t have the authority to levy any of the taxes you suggest, and there’s no way the Legislature is going to give it to them anytime soon.”
Not so. ST already has authority to ask voters to impose a $2-per-month-per-employee tax, under RCW 81.104.150. ST just chose to ignore that, and see if it could get people to impose the most regressive kind of tax imaginable on the poorest among us.
If this measure does not pass it will be in no small part because of how regressive the proposed taxes are.
One way the Legislature could make this much more palatable to voters is to place some of the tax burden on businesses, and put more of the burden on those using the various system elements.
If you are implying that Frank Chopp never would allow that, because he does not want to hand any arguments to Republicans that could be used against Dems, you could well have a point.
But all that means is that the Dems are not willing to allow an electable ST proposal to go forward. And it also would show they care less about light rail than they do about keeping a supermajority of seats. I disagree with those priorities, but I suppose that is the way some feel the game needs to be played.
Caring more about keeping seats than getting transit seems, to me anyway, to be a misplaced priority.
I simply don’t understand the paranoia (real or imagined) around putting a transit package on the 2008 general election ballot.
In 1996, when RTA was on the ballot (transit alone – zero new roads), Democrats CRUSHED in Washington State…with Dems taking huge majorities out of King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. Clinton and Locke both won big. We picked up six seats in the House.
Light rail took 60 percent in King County. 60 PERCENT. Transit alone – NO ROADS.
I think the only people that got snowed here, Goldy, are those people that were convinced by the road building lobby that transit can only pass with a bunch of new roads. History simply does not bear this out – unless you want to argue that our region got substantially LESS green since 1996.
I’m implying that the rest of the state HATES Seattle, and will take great joy and pride in denying us our light rail, and our own legislative delegation lacks the consensus to fight back. We can’t build rail on our own (as the Monorail showed, we don’t have the tax base,) and the state won’t allows us to finance it any other way.
If Prop 1 fails, rail is dead, dead, dead.
Hope all you like your buses. I live in S. Seattle, so I’m getting my rail, but the rest of you are fucked.
Well, maybe I’m unusually dense or unobservant, but that interpretation was never made clear to me, and if I pay more attention to detail than many of the voters down here,and I think that I do, then they didn’t get it either, and it’s too late now, ’cause we all vote by mail down here.
I certainly made the point on this blog several times, and no-one stepped in to correct me. I don’t, certainly, dispute what you say, but if nobody pointed it out to me HERE, then it cost at least one vote. I guess my point now is that if anybody had cared how we in the hinterlands were going to vote, they should have said something.
BTW, was there any direct mail campaign for Prop1 in the Seattle area?
Nothing at all down here.
N in Seattle spews:
Direct mail for Prop.1? Yes, I got at least one piece, which arrived in my mailbox rather late in the game. I had probably mailed my ballot already by the time it came, and I held onto the thing longer than usual.
I also got a mail piece for King County Prop.1, the Medic One levy. There could not be a more enthusiastic YES than that one.