This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

You know, it would be a shame if we lost the Seattle P-I But it would be a real shame if we lost the Tacoma News-Tribune, because it seems to “get” local reporting in a way that puts its big sisters in Seattle to shame. Case in point:

But the new error is a peculiar one. Originally, in fact, it doesn’t seem to have been Sound Transit’s error at all; the mistake was reportedly made by the Seattle Times.

In preparing a June 4 story on the total cost of Phase 2, the Times double-counted $7 billion in expenses when it added everything up to reach the $37.9 billion figure.

It was a good-faith mistake. If journalists were whiz kids in math or accounting, they’d probably be earning an honest living doing something else.

But the mistake ultimately became Sound Transit’s. That’s because the Times – to make sure it had the numbers right – ran its arithmetic past the agency’s staff. The staff missed the Times’ $7 billion error, the $37.9 billion figure was published, and the correction that came out last week left Sound Transit deeply embarrassed.

As the article goes on to say, Sound Transit doesn’t use the $37B number. Only the Times does. And even the Times sometimes uses $23B instead! It doesn’t let Sound Transit off the hook completely, but it does cast the story in a different light: The Times uses an alternative accounting measure to tabulate the total costs. When they presented it to ST and said, “does this look right to you?” ST said, “yeah, that’s right,” even though they don’t use those estimates in their day-to-day planning and operations.