The headline in the Seattle Times says it all: “Gregoire opposes Seattle officials’ request to rethink 520 bridge.”
Of course she does. As does Judy Clibborn (D-41) and Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10), the respective chairs of the House and Senate transportation committees.
And what do all three elected officials have in common? None of them are from Seattle.
Meanwhile, a bill is meandering through the Legislature that would severely limit cities’ local control over large projects in their district, like, you know, the Alaskan Way Viaduct Tunnel, and the 520 bridge.
Of course my gut reaction is to rail against the rest of the state for their “Fuck Seattle” attitude, and the way elected officials outside the city explicitly and implicitly exploit it to their own political advantage. But really, we only have ourselves to blame.
We’re the ones so caught up in the Seattle Way that we can’t ever seem to make a firm decision for fear of pissing off one constituency or another, and we’re the ones who consistently elect perhaps the most anemic political class of any major city in America. Theoretically, the Seattle delegation represents the largest and most powerful political block in the Legislature, and yet they’re either incapable of working together that way, or unwilling to do so out of fear of reinforcing the stereotype that Seattle dominates the state.
Well I’ve got news for you: Seattle should dominate the state! This is where the largest chunk of voters live, and this is where an even larger chunk of the wealth (i.e. tax base) resides. Unlike the goddamn U.S. Senate, we elect all our legislators by the person, not the square mile, and so it’s only fair that our population-dense city gets a disproportionate share of state spending and power.
And yet at a time when two major transportation projects threaten to reshape the city for the next half century or more, we can’t even manage to put one of the transportation committees in the hands of a Seattle legislator. We’re pathetic.