The Seattle Times’ Backward Thrust on Prop 1

Surprise!  The Seattle Times urges No on Prop 1!

THE Sound Transit tax increase, Proposition 1, is a bad proposal. We opposed the same tax a year ago and do so again.

It’s not the same tax as last year, but more importantly, it’s not the same package, which is what the Times really hopes the reader will infer from that lede.  They think they’re so clever.

First, it is too much. Half a cent on the sales tax adds up to a 9.5-percent tax in Seattle and about that much systemwide. That would be one of the highest sales taxes in the United States. It says: “Don’t spend your money here.” It retards our economy. It hurts the poor.

You know, if you’re really so concerned about the size of our regressive sales tax, then how about showing some support for a goddamn income tax?  No?  Really?  In fact, WA’s state and local taxes as a percentage of personal income has been steadily dropping for the past decade and a half, and is now ranked about 34th nationwide, so you can complain all you want about the size of our sales tax, but if you actually cared about an informed debate you might want to add a little context.

Proposition 1 is being marketed as the solution to an immediate need. Salesmen have made up phrases like “immediately increase buses,” “immediate solutions to relieve gridlock” and their favorite, “Transit Now.”

But with Proposition 1, what you get is a Tax Now — a tax that goes to 9.5 percent Jan. 1. A few buses and commuter trains come soon, but most of your money would go to light rail not fully open to you until the 2020s. It is not “Transit Now.”

Yeah, God forbid we invest in anything we might need in the future.  What a bunch of selfish little babies.

This bias against helping people now is why King County Executive Ron Sims argued to keep Proposition 1 off the ballot. As head of the government that owns Metro, the transit agency struggling to meet existing need, he didn’t want to wait until the 2020s.

So… is the Times suggesting we should add another half cent to the sales tax to buy more buses now?  I didn’t think so.

Then the sales pitch shifts. The salesmen admit light rail is not about now. It’s about the future. It’s about getting people out of their cars.

Now they’re just making shit up, substituting their own internal dialogue for actual reporting.

This is an improbable view of the future. Most people don’t want to get out of their cars. As the world changes, they may buy cars that burn fuel from tar sands, canola, algae or wood chips. They may have electric batteries charged by power from the sun, the wind, nuclear reaction or the heat of the Earth.

But most will have their own wheels because they have their own places to go.

Um… has anybody on the Times ed board ever viewed the world from anywhere but Mercer Island?  Where I come from, a lot of folks own cars and use transit.  Maybe they don’t own as many cars as they would have without access to light rail, and maybe a lot of folks put off the expense of owning a car until they have kids… but they still own cars.

I’d say that an improbable view of the world is one solely predicated on a few decades of the sort of failed transportation policy that has gotten us into this mess.

No doubt, more people will take transit. But they will demand service over a wide area — and a price they can afford. Wide and cheap. A spider web of service.

In King County, that’s Metro: It costs 0.9 cents of tax on every dollar and has buses that go to more than 9,000 stops.

Really?  So why doesn’t Frank Blethen take the bus to work?  I’ve been by his house.  (My dog peed on his security gate.)  He lives a short walk from a bus stop, and there are buses that go straight to Fairview Fanny.  So if buses are the be all and end all of transportation, why isn’t Frank riding ‘em.  (Oh yeah, I forgot… buses are for poor people.)

If Proposition 1 passes, on every dollar you will be paying another 0.9 cents (the new 0.5 cents plus the existing 0.4 cents) to Sound Transit. The map of light rail in the mid-2020s will not be a spider web, but a simple “T.” It will have a few stops at hugely expensive stations.

Well now, that’s simply a lie.  We’ll be paying the existing 0.4 cent tax regardless of whether Prop. 1 passes.  They really should be ashamed of themselves.

And as for dismissing the light rail map as a simple “T,” um, really?  Is your argument against expanding light rail really that we don’t have enough light rail now to make it worth expanding?  Or that the package isn’t big enough?  Do you actually read your own editorials before sending them to press?

Eyeball the station on Highway 99 at SeaTac. It is a monument — to something. But it is still one transit stop.

And your point is?  That we don’t have enough transit stops?  Um… that’s the whole point of Prop 1… to build more transit stops.

Buses have their drawbacks: They can get stuck in traffic.

They often smell of urine and poop.

But they can be unstuck with bus lanes.  More bus lanes are coming — on Aurora Avenue, Northwest 15th Avenue in Seattle and on the proposed Highway 520 bridge.

And.. um… where else?  And what about the sort of grade separated transit that much of the light rail line offers, zipping commuters over, under and around street traffic?  Didn’t think so.

Buses are cheaper than rail and more flexible.

More flexible, yes, but that’s actually a downside if part of your goal is to encourage more dense development around the stops.  As for cost, buses require a smaller capital investment, if all you’re going to do is put them on the existing roads, but they’re significantly more expensive to operate over the long run.  Over the long run, rail is actually cheaper if you amortize the capital investment over the long life of the infrastructure.

Proposition 1 slights them: The two center lanes on the Interstate 90 bridge, which now serve buses and Mercer Islanders, become rail-only. Buses are kicked out. Buses will also be kicked out of Seattle’s downtown transit tunnel.

Well, you gotta admire their honesty.  Since really, the Mercer Island based Times ed board’s entire opposition to light rail is based on the fact that it threatens their coveted single occupancy vehicle access to I-90’s HOV lanes.  Under Prop 1’s plans, there will still be HOV lanes on I-90; they just won’t be open SOV drivers going to and from Mercer Island.  Boo hoo.

But one more thing about trains vs buses.  People like trains a helluva lot more than they like buses, and given their druthers they’ll almost always choose the former.  So shouldn’t government be providing the services voters actually want, as opposed to the services the Times thinks we should want?

Finally, it is said that Proposition 1 is not about us, but our grandchildren. So it is. It is a proposal to extend two costly rail lines and to oblige our grandchildren to pay for them. The sales tax is raised to 9.5 percent. It is a lot, and it goes on for a very long time.

Um, let’s see now.  I’m 45 and my daughter is 11.  Prop 1 only authorizes the additional half cent tax to be levied through 2038, by which time I might have a grandchild about the same age as my daughter is now.  So no… I don’t think it accurate to state that the measure will “oblige our grandchildren to pay” for the rail lines.  Our children yes, but our grandchildren no.

However, our grandchildren will have the opportunity to ride this modern, grade separated, hydro-powered electric light rail system.  And depending on where they choose to live, they’ll have the freedom of choosing whether to take on the additional expense of owning a car.

That seems like a pretty good deal for our grandkids, and our region.  If only the previous generation had had the foresight and inter-generational generosity to build this thing 40 years ago, we wouldn’t have to pay for it now.

Comments

  1. 1

    mark spews:

    I wouldn’t want anyone in my family to ride a
    bus or a train with all the freaks running
    around, especially in Seattle. We need more roads and more diesel.

  2. 3

    spews:

    Goldy…

    THANK YOU!

    Gallup poll has Obama 50-McCain 42.

    For some reason I am more concerned about how Biden will do against Palin. Or rather, just how far Biden will go vs. Palin.

    I hope to god there is a Biden/Palin SNL =D

  3. 4

    Gabe spews:

    It’s the freaks who should fear paranoid racist psychopath rednecks like Mark – not the other way around.

    This editorial was obviously written by Reagan era throw-back Bruce Ramsey, who only recently discovered the wheel…and fire. The Times panders to their Tim Eyman “base” yet again. Each year Blethen comes up with a new excuse for their opposition to light rail.

    While they swerve their way down the “vote no always” path, notice how real, effective, viable options are never discussed.

    If only the rest of us could have our own personal on-ramps to our own personal HOV lanes. Then we could all drive our “green” cars everywhere!

    Boy, visionary thinking sure has taken a nose dive at the daily papers around here. Probably a reflection of print newspapers’ failure to adapt to the changing market and their inability to keep up with the times.

  4. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “Over the long run, rail is actually cheaper if you amortize the capital investment over the long life of the infrastructure.”

    Is this statement based on average light rail costs, or Seattle’s hyperexpensive light rail costs? It sounds like a talking point taken from generic data, and not necessarily specific to Seattle’s uniquely high light rail costs. In fact, in Seattle’s case, it’s probably more appropriate to compare bus costs to subway costs, because big chunks of Sound Transit’s light rail route (and costs) are, in fact, a subway.

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Fyi, I commented on this editorial is posted in the “Casino McCain?” thread.

  6. 7

    spews:

    @6

    Steve, many here consider me to be the unofficial HA comment section moderator.

    And with that title and responsibility comes the task of informing people when they are off-topic, which you are. Please see HA rules for further details.

    This is a level-one written notice of a violations of HA TOS.

  7. 8

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Palin’s Other Ethics Scandal

    If you haven’t heard of Pebble Mine yet, you will.

    Alaska’s Pebble Prospect is one of the world’s largest mineral deposits. It contains vast amounts of copper, gold, and molybdenum. Unfortunately, it also sits atop of the headwaters of Bristol Bay, home of the world’s most valuable salmon fishery.

    On August 26, Alaskans voted on a state referendum that pitted commercial fishermen and environmentalists against the mining industry. The referendum would have made it harder for the proposed mine to get state permits. Both sides poured money into the campaign, making it the expensive ballot proposition in Alaskan history.

    By law, state officials can’t use state resources to advocate on ballot issues. But a few days before the election, with the electorate evenly split, Gov. Palin called a press conference and invoked “personal privilege” to “take my governor’s hat off for just a minute here and tell you personally” that she opposed the referendum. The mining industry subsequently used footage of her announcement in its anti-referendum ads.

    The referendum lost.

    Now the state ethics commission has opened an investigation into whether Palin violated the law against official state advocacy. The commission has already formally ruled that a state web site improperly shilled for the mining interests.

    But there’s more to this story than just Palin’s ethics: Her stated rationale in favor of the mine calls into question her judgment and ability to make sound, fact-based decisions.

    Palin told voters she has “all the confidence in the world” that Alaska’s “very stringent regulations and policies already in place” will make sure the mine operates “safely, soundly.”

    Referendum supporters assert this is based on nothing more than assurances from appointees in her administration that existing regulations are sufficient — people from the mining industry. In addition, the state regulators’ salaries are directly subsidized by the mining industry.

    It shows, referendum supporters say, “a lack of serious engagement on complex and important issues” on Palin’s part. Tim Bristol of Trout Unlimited says, “She has this great faith that nothing will go wrong, which gave her a false sense of security, so she went off … half-cocked” on what is very likely the most crucial natural resources decision in Alaskan history.

    In short, Palin’s decision-making style can be summarized in 3 words: Unfit to govern.

    Source: Washington Post; quotes extracted under fair use.

  8. 9

    spews:

    Roger, my reprimand applies to you, too. This post concerns Prop 1 only. Please refrain from off-topic comments.

    Thank you

  9. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    RealClearPolitics’ electoral vote map tracks recent polls showing Obama pulling ahead of McCain: Several formerly leaning-McCain states are now tossups, and a couple of key tossup states are now leaning to Obama. RCP’s latest EV count gives Obama a 301 – 237 edge.

  10. 12

    spews:

    @11

    But you certainly took illegal orders to kill Vietnamese women and children, didn’t you?

    You immoral and cowardly piece of shit.

  11. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Due to the chronic inattention and incomprehension of our resident trolls, it is necessary to periodically repost the unofficial HA ad hoc posting rules. So here we go, again:

    1. This is a liberal blog.
    2. Anyone can post here (except JCH).
    3. There is no censorship.
    4. As liberals, our mission is to verbally kick the living shit out of you fascist traitors.
    5. No mercy for wingnuts!
    6. Our terms are unconditional surrender; there will be trials.
    7. klake is a nazi.

    I don’t see anything in those rules that lets you moderate other people’s (or rabbit’s) comments, asswipe! You’re nothing but an arrogant pretender. BTW please don’t sell your goat’s milk, for obvious reasons — we don’t want your semen getting into the food stupply.

  12. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @12 Yeah, but they were Republicans, which made it okay.*

    * Just kidding! Ann Coulter style humor.

  13. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    All of my comments, without exception, are on topic! The problem is you don’t know what the topic is, so let me clarify it for you. The topic of this blog is:

    REPUBLICANS SUCK

  14. 17

    Jack spews:

    So so so a very bad time to ask for BIG BIG BIG money by sales tax.

    Half the people I know area already very stressed for money – Goldy it seems lives on Mars.

    I think all three might fail, maybe the market and parks will survive, not the 20 billion thing – oh, well, in a depression, people walk a lot.

    My family on my mother’s side were very hungry in the depression, starving in rural America. Biggest concern in the coming three or four years will be food banks out of food….shit, folks, get real. 10 percent official un employment coming, – 15 per cent real no jobs.

    Maybe it, the trans system, can be built as a new WPA project…. federal job creation project.

  15. 18

    spews:

    @16

    I’m torn about Prop 1. Seems to me light rail is more of a jobs work program/feather in the region’s cap/and development stimulator than an actual cost efficient way of moving people.

  16. 19

    Sam spews:

    #8

    RR – you are such a silly old grasping hairy cunt.

    Of course anybody at anytime can offer an ITS A FREE SPEECH COUNTRY opinion on current politics…. in Alaska or any where else ….

    When did any Gov. give up their right to political free speech?

    You are getting very silly on that bad crack you are getting with your stock market cash.

    Go back to road side harvest Kansas weed.

  17. 21

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “Over the long run, rail is actually cheaper if you amortize the capital investment over the long life of the infrastructure.”

    Is this statement based on average light rail costs, or Seattle’s hyperexpensive light rail costs? It sounds like a talking point taken from generic data, and not necessarily specific to Seattle’s uniquely high light rail costs. In fact, in Seattle’s case, it’s probably more appropriate to compare bus costs to subway costs, because big chunks of Sound Transit’s light rail route (and costs) are, in fact, a subway.”

    Right on Rog!
    Goldy is in good company with the Light Rail <MASTERS OF DECEPTION.

    As Goldy knows, the best lies are the ones that are closest to the truth.

    Goldy has taken the School Levy universal motto of “It’s for the Children” to a whole new level!
    Now It’s for the Grandchildren!”

    Sheesh Goldy, my oldest Grandaughter is the same age as your daughter.

    You need to modify your bullsh*t begging motto to:
    It’s for the Great-Grandchildren!”

    Plus Rog, Goldy knows these incompetent dreamers in charge of this fiasco will never bring it in anywhere near there optimistic budget. I call these KLOWNS the Plus 50%’ers!

  18. 22

    Rudy in Ballard spews:

    The word is that Palin will wear some very glam rags, SLIT TO THE UPPER THIGH.

    Biden will stand there flustered with an old man boner, smiling and salivating and snorting a bit.

    I think this debate will be the poltical show of the century, cause I can’t seen any way drear old frumped to the max Biden can compete, can up stage her.

    She will say, Oh, Joe … many times … he will smile over and over.

    Only Goldy would go over and push her to the floor and take her mike away from her.

    She is among the best when it comes to air heads, Dem. or Rep.

    By the way, slow moist roasted young moose meat is gourmet, garlic, basted with red wine, baked with apples and raisins, totally delicious. Tad more flavor than venison.

  19. 23

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @17 You’ve got a point — maybe we should shelve light rail for now and hold out for WPA funding. Great Depression II should make landfall within the next few months.

  20. 24

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @19 Are you guys gonna burn documents, send witnesses into hiding, and defy subpoeanas on that one, too?

    Hey, I understand your desire to avoid jail. I can’t really blame you for covering up your scandals. That’s second nature to Republicans, after all.

    All I’m sayin’ is, POTUS and VPOTUS work for us — they’re employees, not royalty — and this woman is a job applicant and as one of the voters who makes the hiring decision, I gotta say I’m not impressed with her resume or references.

  21. 25

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @22 It’s because of dicks like you that this planet has too many humans on it.

    I’m reminded of a famous actress who wrote to George Bernard Shaw proposing marriage. “Just think if your children have my looks and your brains!” she gushed. He wrote back, “What if they have my looks and your brains?”

  22. 26

    Steve spews:

    @25 “stock tips”

    Cynical’s entire investment strategy can be summed up in four words – “catch a falling knife”.

  23. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @22 (continued) I’ll go you one better — I think she should debate Biden in the buff.

    Once, suffering from insomnia, I flipped through TV channels looking for something to watch at 2 a.m. besides infomercials and chanced upon an interview with a porn star. She sat on a stool completely naked while the interviewer asked her questions. I can’t remember a damn thing she said.

    Under the circumstances, this is probably Palin’s best option, too.

  24. 28

    Jack spews:

    Another thought about the coming depression – WAGES and HOURS GO WAY DOWN FOR THOSE WORKING.

    Yes, sorry to break the bad news, lots of job seekers for EVERY job, lower wages at the street. Harder work, more expectations to keep the shitty job, you feel lucky to have any income.

    Since she is dead, I can share another reality. My Grandmother, Bless her Soul, did get a job cooking, mid great depression, she was a widow with 5 little kids. Family kept several goats in the back yard for meat, little goats and milk. Lived in big cheap old house in the Central District. Working with a Korean family nearby, butchered LOTS OF STRAY dogs.

    And she recounted to me one time, only to her loving and favorite grandson, the way she kept the job for four or five of the worst years of the depression was to sleep with the boss.

    Granny was beautiful, a dark haired French-Irish-Indian beauty, even in old age, and she was a hustler in the end, food on the table, and rent money. God Bless her Divine Soul.

    According to stories she fed half the neighbors with every scrap from the kitchens, tons of bone soup and assorted veggies, NOTHING wasted, bless the potatoe and meat scraps.

    Also, BIG gardens from need. To eat. Not hobby.

  25. 29

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @28 We’re sure gonna have a lot of horny Republicans running around after we eat all the goats, and they’ll be even more trouble than they are now.

  26. 30

    Steve spews:

    @29 All the same, we’ll need to find a way to determine which goats are Marvin’s offspring. I’m not eating those goats, no way, no matter how hungry I might be.

  27. 31

    Jack spews:

    well Rodger – roasted young goat is really gourmet delicious – don’t pass it up or give it to the unworthy – and suck the bones

    horny Rs would be better than all their greed and inhumanity

    and when they, hardcore Rs, get horny, I hear they butt fuck a lot, which makes for kinky videos

    to the movies and pizza and beer and sunlight

    the Republic will have to wait a bit

  28. 33

    Mark The Redneck-Patriot spews:

    foxbusinessdotcom has the actual text of the “Jimmy Carter Damage Recovery Act of 2008″. You marxists out there should really like it.

    Where the fuck have Statesman Dimbulb and Statesman LiarFuckingCantwell been during all this? Haven’t heard a fucking word. Too complicated for the girls to say anything?

  29. 34

    gs spews:

    After reading this blog today, Roast Rabbit, Well done, with a few homegrown carrots on the side and a backyard apple crammed up both ends sounds like what we’ll all be having for Thanksgiving this year.

    PS: Roger does have it dead on correct on Prop 1, it’s just another massive Rip off.

  30. 35

    busdrivermike spews:

    Troll:

    Many people on this blog consider me the guy who calls people on their shit.

    You Sir, are full of it, and I am informing you that you are “code blue” in your need for psychiatric help.

  31. 36

    busdrivermike spews:

    I am tired of punching holes in everyone’s vapid argument of how we need transit in 15 years, instead of now.

    However, I cannot resist a argument based on flawed logic, and Goldy, you serve some of the best of that.

    Goldy, the average age of women giving birth for the first time is 25. So what the Times said is true. Most people’s grandchildren will be paying for it.

    Just because you waited until 35 to have a kid does not mean everyone else did. So, for the average 45 year old, who has a child of 20(who will have her first kid in 5 years), the Times logic is correct.

    As for the rest of your light rail kool aid, arguing for it makes as much sense as defending McCain for his choice of VP. It is that lame from my standpoint. Bashing the ST2 plan has so many great arguments the question becomes: where to begin?

  32. 37

    Gabe spews:

    busdrivermike, the transit advocate who doesn’t believe HOV lanes are needed for quality bus service.

    I’ll take Troll’s idiotic (but honest) views over yours any day of the week.

    Serious.

  33. 38

    Gabe spews:

    busdrivermike: you need another couple million more brain cells to qualify yerself as intellectual cop here. Most of the crap you’ve posted qualifies as either juvenile or based on ignorance.

    Take your pick. Either way, you lose.

  34. 40

    Pol Pot spews:

    Writes David: “Where I come from, a lot of folks own cars and use transit. Maybe they don’t own as many cars as they would have without access to light rail, and maybe a lot of folks put off the expense of owning a car until they have kids… but they still own cars.”


    That’s a non-sensical argument, David, because THERE’S NO LIGHT RAIL NOW — and none of your friends ‘have access to’ it. You’re smoking something….