I’ve got a longer fisking in the works, but I just needed to pause for a moment to call out Susan Hutchison for a particularly infuriating piece of hypocrisy that local righties always seem to get away with:
Paula Hammond, the state transportation secretary and Sound Transit board member, said “I was surprised it (the 520 proposal) came up. I don’t understand it.”
“The voters have decided. It makes it a bit moot.”
Hutchison believes voters were really just approving a general endorsement of extending rail to the Eastside rather than of a specific route.
Get that? According to Hutchison, voters didn’t really know what they were voting on last November when Sound Transit put forth very detailed plans for Eastside rail expansion, so as county executive it would be her prerogative to change the plans as she saw fit.
Now to be fair, I happen to agree that voters often don’t fully understand the ballot measures on which they’re asked to vote, and that many, many such issues would be better decided through a deliberative legislative process rather than a thumbs up or down at the polls. But at least I’m consistent in my cynicism towards so-called direct democracy.
But not so our political and media establishment which almost uniformly stands up for the inviolability of tax-cutting, government-restricting ballot measures like those peddled by Tim Eyman, yet seems almost eager to second guess voters when it comes to their support for actually spending money and other policy priorities.
Car tab slashing initiative I-695? Well yeah, it was unconstitutional, but we better implement it via legislation anyway because that’s what the voters say they want, whatever the consequences. But the teacher pay and class size initiatives? Oh those silly voters… they were so irresponsible in not specifying a revenue source, so we’re pretty much free to suspend those whenever budgets get tight.
The renewable energy initiative overwhelmingly approved at the polls? Voters didn’t really understand the specifics and the consequences we were told, so legislators felt free to try to loosen the terms last session. But I-747’s arbitrary and unreasonable one-percent cap on revenue growth from regular levies? Again, unconstitutional measure, but we better call a special session to reimpose it because, damn, it was the will of the people you know.
Voters reject a baseball stadium, we get a baseball stadium. Voters reject replacing the Viaduct with a tunnel, and local and state leaders get together and compromise on, you guessed it, a tunnel. And hell, then there’s the Monorail. Boondoggle or no, it took five separate ballot measures before voters finally rejected the Monorail, but only that last vote was somehow considered definitive. Yet even dare to question the tax and revenue limits already in place, and an elected official is virtually guaranteed a scathing attack from our state’s opinion leaders, not to mention the usual, bullshitty, angry email-cum-fundraising-scam from our friend Timmy.
I mean, if Dow Constantine were to imply voters didn’t understand what they were voting on in approving I-747 (which by the way, failed in King County), just imagine how he would be castigated by Eyman and the Seattle Times ed board for his arrogance. Yet Hutchison implies the same about last year’s excruciatingly deliberated, negotiated, debated and hard fought Sound Transit Phase II expansion — a measure that passed in King County with an extraordinary 63% of the vote — and nobody bats an eyebrow.
What a bunch of fucking hypocrites.
Well you can’t have it both ways. Either a vote of the people is carved in stone by the invisible hand of God, or it isn’t. And since after two years our state constitution gives initiatives the same standing as any other law, I’d say it is clearly the latter.
But either way, popular ballot measures like last year’s Prop 1 simply shouldn’t be abrogated via executive fiat, and any suggestion to the contrary should be roundly greeted with ridicule. It is Hutchison, not the voters, who clearly hasn’t been paying attention when it comes to regional transportation planning, and she desperately needs to be called on the table for her ignorance, if not her arrogance.