This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
James Vesely is concerned that there’s no single point of accounability for RTID/ST2. And he’s right: that’s the whole point of the package. It’s designed to provide supplimental funding to a whole bunch of projects that are currently under the purview of different agencies (WSDOT, Sound Transit, SDOT, etc.) but that have in common the fact that they’re part of an overall central Puget Sound infrastructure upgrade.
STB argues that this is a fundraising issue, which is true, but there’s more to it than that. The whole point of the vote is to say, “look, we have serious transportation needs in the central Puget Sound, the State’s not gonna foot the bill, and there’s no single government with jurisdiction, so we’re going to have all the goverments come together and work on funding the most critical projects.”
What we don’t want, it seems to me, is to create yet another agency like the Port that has its own separate accountability. But there’s no way we can have a direct chain of command, because there are overlapping jurisdictions involved, and the city of Seattle, for example, doesn’t “report” to King County. So this is what we’re left with: a coalition of governments.
In other words, while Vesely argues that a vote for RTID is “a vote for bureaucracy,” in fact the exact opposite is true. You’re voting for less bureaucracy, since the money will be funneled into projects that need it (SR 520, I-405, etc.) that are already under the management of existing bureaucracies (WSDOT, ST, etc.)
So we don’t want more quasi-independent fiefdoms like the Port, but we do want oversight and accountability. How do we get there? Knute Berger said it best a couple of years ago when he referred to these new bureaucracies as “designer governments.” He also pointed out that I-900, which was on the ballot that November, and which subequently passed, gave the State the authority to do performance audits of these agencies. There’s your accountability. In fact, we can go right over to the Auditor’s website and learn that his audit of Sound Transit is 99% complete. I hope Vesely reports on the results!