As we previously mentioned, this week the Mayor proposed a supplemental transportation budget to balance car, pedestrian, bicycle, and transit needs using the $11.75 million in savings from the Spokane Street Viaduct project. Bruce’s piece this morning showcases one of the great transit options this planning work could help build.

Unfortunately, the Seattle Times, with guest Sally Clark, has continued its campaign against any transit the Mayor proposes. Let’s have a look at their reaction to the supplemental budget ($).

On the high capacity transit studies, we begin with:

“Déjà vu,” said council President Sally Clark. “It seems like we just discussed this.”

In fact, we did just discuss this. In the first paragraph of Council’s Statement of Legislative Intent with 2013 Transit Master Plan implementation, they said:

It is also the Council’s intent that SDOT continue planning for the High Capacity Transit (HCT) corridors identified in the TMP, including the Eastlake corridor, in a timely manner so that Seattle can meet longer-term growth in transit demand. Following the City Budget Office 1stQuarter update of revenue projections and upon review of the 1stQuarter Supplemental Budget, Council will examine prospects to move up the Eastlake HCT corridor planning to begin in 2013.

This is exactly the time that the Council asked to review bringing this transit planning work to 2013 – and now there’s extra money to do just that. Perhaps Clark, busy in her role as Council President, simply forgot that her legislative body asked for this?

It doesn’t end there. The piece (and Clark) continue:

The council has been listening, Clark said, and trying to balance the mayor’s pitch with the need for projects in Lake City, southeast Seattle and other neighborhoods such as Wedgwood, where two pedestrians were recently killed by a driver who has been charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving.

That accident and others are reminders that safety improvements on some roads would “make a difference in people’s lives right now,” Clark said.

The piece, and Clark, carefully omit the fact that this same supplemental budget has more money for pedestrian improvements, especially in Lake City, than it does for transit:

This item increases appropriation authority by $1,000,000 in the Mobility Capital BCL (19003) for Pedestrian Master Plan implementation project (TC367150).  This funding will be used for new pedestrian safety projects.  Projects will be selected from community–supported planning efforts, including the Lake City Traffic Safety Corridor Project (underway)…

SDOT is also collecting safety improvement ideas from Wedgwood through a series of public meetings, and the Mayor’s office has laid out a specific work plan for improving 75th Street. The funding for “community-supported planning efforts” would go directly to these improvements and others like them.

The piece ends with an ironic statement:

As for McGinn’s renewed push this year, Clark wouldn’t speculate on its relevance to the mayor’s re-election campaign. “I am not even going to go there. There may be candidates who want to go there, but I’m going to leave that to them.”

The Council asked for this “renewed push,” and now Clark uses her apparent lapse in memory to tee this up as an opportunity for her friends on the Council to attack the Mayor. I’d have talked to Clark’s office for this piece, but the last time someone did that, she gave them the run-around and wouldn’t answer questions.

To the Times: please fact check your interviews. To Clark: this kind of thing is obvious, and reflects poorly on you and the Council.

46 Replies to “A Fact Check on Sally Clark”

  1. Good article, well-made points.

    I take issue with one part, however: “I’d have talked to Clark’s office for this piece, but the last time someone did that, she gave them the run-around and wouldn’t answer questions.” The Slog’s past experiences are no excuse for you not to even try to get a comment from Clark.

    1. +1, please ask for comment from Clark’s office. At the very least, her staff will be aware of the statements she is making in relation to the TMP/PMT/HCT plans.

      1. I mean, if she wants to respond to my Facebook posts about my favorite TV shows, she or her staff are welcome to respond. If there is an interesting post in the Huffington Post about hot dogs, she and her staff are welcome to respond. There could be 300 blog posts today about Sally Clark; it shouldn’t be the responsibility of her staff to seek out things worth commenting on.

        In the original post, you indicated that you would like to have a response from her or her staff, but weren’t willing to seek it out. If you think a response from her office is important enough to mention it in the post, the responsible thing for you to do as a blogger/journalist is to at least put in a little effort to contact her office asking for comment.

      2. I completely understand Ben’s frustration with Sally Clark, but it never hurts to ask. At the very least, you’ll get her on record being evasive or antagonistic.

        The sad fact is these people don’t feel like they need our votes or support. The only Council member facing a serious challenge is Mike O’Brien.

      3. L Smith – her staff read STB. This isn’t a Facebook post about a TV show. When something like this goes up, it gets emailed around immediately.

        The fact is that the comments she made to the Times were indefensible. If she wants to defend them that’s up to her, and I welcome it.

      4. The problem here is that you’ve changed your tune since you wrote the post. In the post you waxed disappointed that it was impossible to get comment from her when you try, without trying. Now in the comments, you are saying it’s her prerogative to respond if she wants to.

        You specifically said “I’d have talked to Clark’s office for this piece” but the reason you give for not trying to talk to her office is really weak. It would be better if you put in at least the first effort to contact her office, so you could say “I’d have talked to Clark’s office for this piece, but they didn’t respond to my email,” or “I’d have talked to Clark’s office for this piece, but their response smacked of the runaround she recently gave the Slog, so I stopped pursuing it,” but to say that you wanted to get comment but didn’t try is really poor journalism.

      5. I think it’s basically just telling that you haven’t in any way addressed the whole point of the post.

    2. I completely agree. Pushing off the responsibility into the person whose comment is relevant to the post is poor journalism, especially for advocacy journalism. Basing the decision on ani interaction she had with a journalist at a different outlet on a different and unrelated topic is just lazy. You may think you know her reaction, but you lose a lot of force behind your argument by not asking.

      A simple, “We asked for comment and got none,” or an obvious dodging answer will make your point much more than your avoidance of the confrontation does.

      1. I’m pretty sure Ben has a day job. STB does go further than most blogs and do some original reporting when possible (instead of just commenting) but in the end it is still a blog writen by volunteers.

        Ben has no more obligation to reach out to Sally Clark than Martin did to reach out to Steinbrueck.

        If Sally Clark disagrees with Ben’s takedown of her statements, I am sure the staff would be more than willing to post her reply as a Guest Post, just as they did for Steinbrueck.

      2. I’m honestly floored that this is somehow more important than the reason I wrote this piece. She had a great opportunity to make comments on this project. She used them in a misleading attack. That should be called out.

        Regardless of my day job, we don’t often ask for comments when writing our pieces – this isn’t a major investigative piece, just calling someone out for doing something anti-transit. The point here is to call her out, not to give her another chance to spin. If she wants to respond, she can contact us.

      3. The last line was a bit snarky. Considering the facts did a good enough job of demolishing her statements, the snark was an unneeded distraction.

      4. I wanted to point out what happened the last time someone asked her for comment on something she disagrees with. It was snarky, you’re right, but it was intended to be. I want to point out that this, like her opposition to aPodments, doesn’t have any basis in good governance, just politics.

      5. “I wanted to point out what happened the last time someone asked her for comment on something she disagrees with.”

        Why not ask her now, and then point out what happened this time someone asked her for comment on something she disagrees with?

    3. I agree. I think attacking people without giving them a chance to defend themselves can be counterproductive to the cause.

      1. Please don’t pile on to the straw man. If Clark’s office wanted a chance to respond, they would. This is not relevant to the issue.

  2. I find the us vs them refrain counter productive. It’s one thing to push for a larger emphasis on streetcars, it’s another to call people anti-transit if they don’t emphasis streetcars as much as you want.

    1. I do too! If the council didn’t play “us vs him” with McGinn we’d be connecting our neighborhoods with HCT right now, because a this may have been funded in 2011. But they kneecapped what went on the ballot by depriving it of a central project.

      1. what is proposed to be funded is planning, not implementation; one cannot take a plan between neighborhoods.

    2. Thanks for trying to cool it down a bit. There seems to be a sort of “anything goes” spirit developing among Clark detractors, for some reason.

      1. I don’t even know how she voted on SLU. All I know is that she just contradicted herself in just the right way that it tries to make McGinn look bad, and it’s my job to point that out.

  3. Just seems like a classic anti-McGinn automated reaction by anyone on the council without the first name of ‘Mike’.

    Can our city council stop behaving like the Republican US House of Representatives and support good policy over character assassinations of an executive you don’t like?

    1. Exactly. McGinn is so toxic right now that nobody is willing to side with him on any issue – stand too close and you risk becoming collateral damage. Everybody is distancing themselves from him and his policies – even on issues they generally support.

      What annoys me is that McGinn puts on his pro-transit cap, everyone else doffs theirs. Thus it is hard to determine who amongst the challengers is really pro-hi cap transit, and one of the challengers is almost certainly going to be our next mayor.

      1. It’s not hard to determine. If they support transit, they’ll vote to fund the highest priorities in the transit master plan. If bringing those priorities up for funding is toxic, then those it’s toxic to are anti transit…

      2. +1. As a tepid McGinn supporter I’d really like to know who would be second best on transit issues, but everyone’s running away from transit issues. If McGinn doesn’t clear the primary, whoever does emerge will start to sound more pro-transit. If McGinn does clear the primary, his opponent will almost certainly continue to run away from transit.

        My sense is that Burgess would be better than he is currently portraying himself, Harrell doesn’t know the issues, Murray would start off badly but would improve over time, and Steinbrueck would support Metro etc but dither on or outright oppose further HCT.

      3. Bellinghammer, you’ve got a good read on the situation, and I mostly agree with your assessments. I think Burgess would be the pre-McGinn status quo: some good transit planning, but also an SDOT that prioritizes cars over transit and a lackadaisical attitude toward high-dollar projects. I think Steinbrueck would try to return the situation to how it was in the 1980s: a spaghetti network that serves every elderly person in Seattle door to door, but every two hours and at an average speed of 4 mph.

      4. I don’t expect any real progress on the TMP (or anything related) until after McGinn is OOF, so I wouldn’t rely on it as an indicator. And “progress on the TMP” is meaningless anyhow per the non-council challengers.

      5. There’s progress on the TMP right now. Of the four high priority corridors, three are funded for planning, and the Council funded the fourth in 2014. This is just about improving the Ballard work and accelerating the UW-SLU work by a few months with some found money.

        It’s ridiculous that any council member would even oppose this. It seems purely due to the fact that their friends are in the mayoral race.

  4. Sticking up for Ben, the story here is Council’s ridiculously hypocritical and childish opposition to any McGinn-affiliated transit project. Clark made it easy for him, but props to Ben for holding her feet to the fire.

    That the readership here seems to expect post authors to reach out to newsmakers for comment shows shows a lot of things: 1) STB isn’t just a blog anymore. It’s expected to be both a news outlet and an advocacy tool for the pro-transit crowd in city politics; 2) we’re a little starved for hard-hitting confrontational journalism in this city (or at least very frustrated with our daily); and 3) sometimes we miss the forest for the trees in these debates.

    1. When you say “our daily” are you referring to that redolent example of Snoozeworthy journalism, The Seattle Crimes?

  5. Thank you for clarifying all of this Ben. My sense is that in trying to be against oppositional, Clark just didn’t update herself with the facts. This is unfortunate, but I hope she humbly come back and clarify that she wasn’t clear. Also, I hope she doesn’t try to stop some of these important projects that will be funded by the Spokane savings.

  6. Ahem, she and Rasmussen’s aide both referred to transit planning moving ahead at City Hall’s Open House, so this is funny of her to say.

    Also: I’m trying to get her to get a corgi so hopefully she doesn’t flip-flop on cute dog buying intent :-/

  7. This silly tit for tat about seeing who can be more pro-transit isn’t helpful to people trying understand all the alphabet soup of regional and local planning. Sally Clark is not antitransit. Saying that isn’t even credible. It’s part of her job to be a check on executive power. The mayors proposal is arguably redundant and borderline gimmicky. It deserves to be robustly debated.

    The city doesn’t have any money to build even a fraction of what the mayor is talking about, and the Feds aren’t rolling in it either. The noion of easy federal grant dollars is illusory. ST is doing a study that will look at multiple crossings, including existing bridges, potential new bridges, and tunnels. Might it be cheaper and faster to ask them to look at adding ped-bike concepts to their work?

    Either way, sometimes in our zeal the reporting here seems to slide toward groupthink. Despite peoples’ best intentions. That’s not healthy for the free exchange of ideas. Most of the people reading stb are pro transit and want to collaborate on how to get more done. Playing gotcha in the margins of substance and parsing politicians’ transit purity doesn’t help move us along.

    1. If Sally Clark isn’t anti transit, she shouldn’t vote against transit. This isn’t hard. Spin it all you like, but she’s delaying transit when there’s money to move forward.

      And the cheapest, fastest way to do this work is the way it’s proposed. It’s really weird to have someone suggest that convincing the entire Sound Transit board to move money forward would somehow be cheaper than just executing a study for which there’s already funding available. That’s not credible.

      Most of the responses to this post are defensive spin. I’m not impressed with the sudden flurry of made-up names. Be an adult.

  8. Ben – Sorry to see the tone of your post. I think you know I’d be happy to talk. Memory lapses and too busy with other duties? Cheap. I hope people will try to stay out of the circular firing squad formation. Questioning and debating proposals isn’t “anti-transit.” We’re talking about a 2014 start for the HCT Eastlake and canal crossing planning. As in next year. And yes, there’s money in the proposed supplemental for ped safety in Lake City (and Rainier Valley), but I think we can do more on that front and do it quicker.

    Congrats on the Muni League recognition – a place where we could have chatted. I think that was the night before this post went up.

    1. I think the tone was warranted this time. I think it did us all a disservice to provide those comments to the Times. I think you knew how they’d be used and you knew the audience wouldn’t have this context.

      If you want to do more on the ped front, get ahead of it – don’t do it as a response to things the mayor does. There’s other funding available in the supplemental budget (like the REET money for the Amazon sale? I haven’t looked at what happened to that) which would be a great source for ped safety projects.

      At the same time, a crossing study and the UW-SLU study both help create solid solutions for other unsafe corridors. Those studies aren’t just for transit; they’ll lead to street reconfigurations in the least bike-safe and most used bike corridors in the city.

      Also, I don’t believe the 2014 budget has the canal crossing planning in it, unless I missed something. If you’d like to do that in response to the mayor’s request to fund it now, that’s possible, but the faster this work is done, the more likely we are to get federal funds that provide jobs to our city that don’t require software degrees.

      We should absolutely talk more about this. I want to see you work positively with the mayor, not use transportation improvements as a bargaining chip.

  9. Now that 1600 apartments ae being built in West Seattle, it is time to move West seattle into the high capacity transit planning excluded in the TMP!!

    1. Absolutely. That’s what Seattle Subway will be doing, now that we’ve won planning money to do it from Sound Transit.

      You should email me – ben@seattlesubway.org – if you want to help get West Seattle grade separated transit!

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