“When mobility, traffic congestion and thousands of local jobs are at stake, we’d hope for stronger leadership.”
I’m packing up my virtual tent, heading home and celebrating a successful end to my vigil. David Irons is now officially on the record opposing Initiative 912, but in the worst possible way: weakly, weasly, and without conviction.
Of course I never expected Irons to directly respond to my queries, but as Cindy Sheehan proved in Crawford, TX, persistence can have its rewards, especially if the MSM takes up the fight. When the Seattle P-I finally forced the issue, Irons was forced to respond, but only dug himself a deeper hole by answering my very simple question with a rambling equivocation. As the P-I correctly observes in a Monday editorial, it was not exactly a display of the kind of strong leadership we need in a county executive.
Gas-tax Politics: Irons in the fire
David Irons, King County councilman and Republican candidate for county executive, seems uncomfortably balanced on the razor’s edge of the gas tax issue, teetering between the interests of the GOP’s traditional business supporters and the passions of the anti-tax elements of his conservative constituent base.
David Goldstein’s horsesass.org blog started the humming with claims that Irons earned the nod from the Alki Foundation by proclaiming opposition to Initiative 912, which would roll back the gas tax increase. Asked to clarify, Iron’s campaign office responded with the following: “In principle, I believe all major tax increases should go to a vote of the people. Personally I am voting no on Initiative 912. This is not the package that I would have put together. I believe it should have done more to reduce congestion. That’s why we need new leadership in King County that will advocate for more congestion relief.”
So, I-912 — essentially a vote of the people on a “major” tax increase — is a good idea, but he’s going to vote against it?
But will Irons, as a council member and executive candidate, actively campaign against I-912 to defend the billions of dollars in new gas tax-funded construction projects headed for Seattle and King County?
Irons — through his campaign office — says that the prepared statement “speaks for itself.”
When mobility, traffic congestion and thousands of local jobs are at stake, we’d hope for stronger leadership.
Sure… Irons’ statement “speaks for itself”… but with a kind of rhetorical aphasia that’s likely to confuse and bewilder audiences out on the hustings. While I suppose his “its a bad package but I oppose repealing it” stance was intended to give him an all-things-to-all-people appeal, I’m guessing it’s likely to leave I-912 supporters and opponents equally unsatisfied. Perhaps Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson will strategically avoid the issue the next time he appears on their shows, for I can’t imagine how Irons can defend his position without either defending the transportation package, or coming across as arbitrary and… well… stupid.
Leaving aside the question of whether the transportation package constitutes a “major” tax increase (it doesn’t) or whether all such increases should be put directly to voters (they shouldn’t), Irons’ statement is clumsy in its misdirection, when not entirely incomprehensible. Irons says that he would not have put together the transportation package in its current form, but then, neither would I… so get over it. The fact is we both recognize that, whatever its flaws, the package is good for the state and good for King County, and that it adequately funds the priorities laid out in the RTID proposal that Irons himself helped put together. That’s why we both oppose I-912… because repealing the gas tax hike would indefinitely delay desperately needed transportation improvements and maintenance.
But the statement’s most utterly ridiculous assertion is that the transportation bill’s shortcomings reflect on the need for “new leadership in King County.” If Irons actually believes this deliberate misrepresentation of the legislative process, then he clearly needs a refresher course in School House Rock.
I can only assume (hope?) that his “prepared statement” wasn’t written by Irons himself. So here’s a tip to the campaign staffer or consultant responsible: if you’re going to refuse to give a coherent explanation, don’t give one at all. I asked a very simple question: “Do you support I-912?”… and you could have simply responded “No.”
Or, you could have shown me the courtesy of responding directly to my queries, and taken advantage of my generous offer to post your complete reply, unedited, here on HA. This would have afforded you the opportunity to fully explain your position, outside the P-I’s editorial prism… while shutting me up in the process. Yeah, I know that according to Irons’ own internal polls, a full two-thirds of his core supporters are reflexively anti-tax… but hell… it’s not like these people are reading my blog anyway.
So if there is any lesson to be learned from the way Irons mishandled my vigil, it is that while some issues can’t help but generate controversy, there is one policy that is always popular with voters: honesty.