You know what irritates me most about Seattle Times editorials? Their tone. Their holier than thou, we know better than you do attitude that seems to permeate nearly everything they write. They don’t discuss, they don’t debate… they just make pronouncements, without feeling the need to ever back themselves up with… what are those things called again? Oh yeah… facts. Take for instance today’s timely editorial on transportation governance reform: “Sound Transit reform deserves the fast lane.”
The Senate Transportation Committee in Olympia has been sitting on a bill that would reform Sound Transit and subject it to voter control. Called Substitute Senate Bill 6772, it is a way out of the muddle, and the committee ought to move it.
Ought they? Really? In that case, might it have behooved you to run this editorial, gee… I dunno… sometime before yesterday’s cut-off for moving the bill out of committee?
Currently, Sound Transit is governed by a board of politicians. All but one are elected — but, like Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, the chairman, they are elected to something else. The result is that this agency, which is spending billions of our dollars, is under no direct voter control. Voters also have no right of initiative or referendum.
Oh no! Sound Transit is governed by a board of politicians! Heaven forfend! And the best way to correct that horror is to replace it with a board of directly elected… um… politicians. And in low-profile, “nonpartisan” races where your buddies in the business community can buy control through huge infusions of cash. At least that way voters can be assured of getting the kind of competent, accountable governance we get from similar directly elected bodies, like you know, the Seattle Port Commission.
The transit-only folks delude themselves if they believe voters killed last fall’s “Roads and Transit” ballot measure because they didn’t want the roads. They do want the roads. And the idea of combining transit and roads was right. Both are needed. The ballot measure failed because the light-rail part was too expensive and created a tax that was too high.
Um… when the Times says voters “do want roads,” and the “measure failed because the light-rail part was too expensive and created a tax that was too high,” they’re basing those assertions on what? Polls? Intuition? Gentle assurances from John Stanton over foie gras and Chateau Lynch-Bages at the Rainier Club? A public opinion fairy they plucked out of their ass?
Yeah, that’s right, Prop 1 failed solely because of the rail portion of the package. All those polls that showed RTID dragging the measure down, and all that opposition from anti-roads advocates like the Sierra Club — that had absolutely nothing to do with Prop 1’s failure. Jesus… talk about deluded.
The bill to which we refer changes Sound Transit into an agency focused on mobility — cars, trucks, rail and buses included. We regret that the bill does not include the rights of initiative and referendum, but at least it creates direct voter control, which is crucial if voters are to approve another tax increase.
No, the bill to which they refer, but don’t bother to explain, essentially eliminates Sound Transit and gives its name and assets to a new, multi-county transportation agency governed by a board of six-figure-a-year commissioners. Sweet.
The other problem is that Sound Transit is a rail and bus agency only, whereas the need is for mobility in general. What is needed is an agency to invest in transit and roads, to satisfy demand for each and extract the most mobility per taxpayer dollar.
Translation: we want to take dollars from rail, use some of the money to paint the words “Rapid Transit” on the sides of buses, and spend all the rest on roads.
The other problem is that the Seattle Times is a daily newspaper only, whereas what is really needed around here is a place where you can get a decent, New York style bagel and some hand-sliced nova. I suppose if we shut down the paper, sink the Blethen’s assets into opening a top-notch kosher deli, and then slap the “Seattle Times” logo on it, that might do the trick.
The Republican minority tried to move the bill out of committee Monday, and failed. It is not even mainly their bill; Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, and the committee chairwoman, is the principal sponsor. Democrats should support their chairman and move the bill toward ultimate approval.
The Republican minority tried to move the bill out of committee, knowing it didn’t have the votes, in a blatant attempt to embarrass Haugen and the Democrats. The unsigned editorialist would have to be a complete idiot not to understand the petty politics behind such a purely procedural maneuver, so I can only assume they were merely being disingenuous. But then, the timing of this editorial, coming one day after cut-off, does suggest total ignorance of the legislative calendar, so maybe I’m being too generous?
Of course the real question here is why the Times is so adamant about demanding “reform” of Sound Transit, an agency that just came through its audits with flying colors, while they remain silent on the issue of reforming the Port of Seattle, an agency so arrogantly mismanaged that it has now become the target of a Justice Department investigation into allegations of criminal fraud? Now that’s what I call “a muddle.”