The No on Proposition 1 campaign has stepped in it once again with an op-ed piece that twice cites critical analysis of King County Metro by the Municipal League of King County.

There are two problems with this picture:

(1) The Municipal League gave Metro a glowing review in a report it issued in 2013;

and …

(2) The Municipal League has endorsed King County Proposition 1.

The 2013 report is a useful document regardless of the Proposition 1 campaign, and includes some additional recommendations that will probably enjoy a lot of support among this blog’s readership.

Here is the report’s summary:

1. Performance Measurement and Reporting. Metro has made significant strides in sharing its statistics with the public by posting them on its website under the tab About Metro/Accountability.

2. Service Allocation Policy. The newly adopted Strategic Plan and service guidelines seem to provide a promising framework for allocating service based on route productivity and ridership demand, serving those most dependent on transit, and providing geographic value. [emphasis added by this author]

3. Strategic Plan for Public Transportation. The new Strategic Plan for Public Transportation 2011-2021 is a more forthright and easier to understand plan than the previous plan discussed in our 2008 Municipal League report.

4. Clarity and Transparency. Metro has made significant changes and improvements to its reporting which is included in many forms on the King County Metro website, We do offer additional suggestions for improvement in the discussion below [the full report].

Metro’s transparency stands in stark contrast to an opposition campaign that has set up fake front groups that gratuitously/Orwellianly include the word “transit” in their names, is led by a real organization that has been exposed for fake support for buses, and is taking the words of a prominent watchdog organization out of context to make it look like that group is opposing, rather than supporting, King County Proposition 1.

36 Replies to “Municipal League *Supports* Proposition 1”

  1. At the risk of sounding uncharitable, does it matter? If one group holding a particular position can lie in its ads and lie in sound bites and get quoted first in the Seattle Times, what is the effective rebuttal? Does there even need to be one, instead this being a case of “don’t dignify with a response?”

    I’m a very green newbie at campaigning, so these might be dumb questions. If they are, apologies, because I really want Prop 1 to pass. I think that Metro has done a lot to overcome the problems that were identified. Can it improve? Certainly, but imploding bus service and keeping crappy roads is the wrong way to go about it.

    1. Agreed. Even Seattle Times “articles” that are supposed to be somewhat unbiased are putting the fear of god in car drivers that all the money being allocated to roads is going to go to bike lanes and sidewalks. The front page article this morning pretty much said vote no because the amount of money allocated to roads isn’t high enough.

      I haven’t seen any real rebuttal of these arguments or the Times editorial on Sunday recommending a no vote. It really feels like the pro-prop 1 are too busy preaching to the choir on transit/bike sites and not the general population through the mainstream media, or maybe they don’t have access?

      I also noticed the “vote no on prop 1” signs are sprouting like weeds in Seattle.

      1. Preaching to the choir is a huge, huge problem with Seattle progressives. They really don’t like having to do the basic work of reaching out to persuadable or undecided voters in swing areas.

        I don’t know if there are any TV ads lined up and I’d be surprised if there aren’t any.

        But we all need to do what we can to win this – gotta talk to all our family and friends and co-workers about the importance of voting yes.

        We can win this, but it will be close, and we are going to have to work our asses off in the next two weeks. And after that, win or lose, we’re going to need to seriously reassess the way we build public support for transit in this state. The “focus on urban riders” approach is either not working (as we saw in Pierce County) or is leaving us too close to defeat for comfort.

      2. I agree with the ‘preaching to the choir’ sentiment. It seems like the pro-transit groups spend too much time talking to people that will already vote yes anyway. There needs to be more time talking to the on-the-fence crowd. If you can’t bank on your guaranteed yes votes, you’ve got a much larger problem.

        With that said though, does anyone other than the older, anti-transit crowd really read and believe anything the Seattle Times says anyway? Everything they write seems to pander to that crowd regardless of what time of year it is. Is the Seattle Times really swaying undecided voters to vote no, or are they just pandering to their aging and rapidly decreasing readership out of necessity?

      3. The “focus on urban riders” approach is either not working (as we saw in Pierce County) or is leaving us too close to defeat for comfort.

        Waiting for d.p. to come in and correctly point out that Metro is not actually focusing on urban riders, at least not to the point where it’s actually sufficient for them… 3…2…1…

      4. Well, it’s no different than the obnoxious yellow flyers from the Transit Riders’ Union all around Shoreline and Seattle.

        After receiving the tab renewal notice for my motorcycle, I found $58, of the $111 I will pay, goes to transit. The proposal would add another $40! I voted NO .

      5. If you are someone like me who votes in EVERY election you are getting phone calls and literature in the mail. It would seem those who tend to vote in special elections are being heavily targeted and the usual liberal suspects are being used as a source of volunteers and added votes.

        The way you run a special election campaign particularly for a ballot measure is very different than one on the general election ballot. Few people bother to vote in special elections and those voters are easy to target.

        That said I wish the timing of the legislative session hadn’t forced Prop. 1 on a special election ballot. The chances of passage are much better with general election voters.

      6. If Proposition 1 fails this time, can it go back on the ballot next November or later? (I’m aware that’d be after Metro was forced to start its cuts.)

      7. @Charlotte: Only $24 more would be going to transit, The other $16 is being advertised as for roads, and consensus seems to be that the great preponderance of that amount will go to road and bridge maintenence. Some of it may end up getting spent for bus lanes, or for even for transit (as I read the ordinance, it allows any transportation use as long as its in support of an approved transportation master plan), but so far, no one seems to be seriously considering doing so.

        I had a similar reaction when I renewed the tabs on my wife’s motorcyle. I voted yes (finally actually mailed the ballot this morning) because good transit serves the same role for cities that Iron serves for bodies.

    2. If you feel compelled to write a letter to the editor, yours might just appear, if the Yes campaign isn’t generating many.

    3. I’m not sure how much the articles and editorials in the Suburban Times really influence anymore. Circulation has been dropping like a rock for the past decade and with it influence.

      1. Chris, please don’t call it that. I live on the Eastside and I voted yes. There are plenty of pro-transit people outside of Seattle. I’d rather call the Seattle Times the No-Tax Times; I think that’s more appropriate :)

      2. I always refer to that paper by its full name: “Our Republican local paper, the Seattle Times.” As in, “Our Republican local paper, The Seattle Times, thinks its a good idea to vote for George W. Bush.” Or… “Our Republican local paper, The Seattle Times, things is a bad idea to fund transit.” Clears up any possiblity of confusion about who they are and where they are coming from.

      3. Kathy Lambert and Jane Hague, two of the four Republicans on the county council (i.e. were listed as “Republican” on the ballot when they first got elected) have endorsed Proposition 1. The other two Republicans have remained neutral, as far as I can see, but happily voted to put it on the ballot.

      4. I call it the “Suburban Times” because of their editorial board’s anti-urban agenda and because that is where much of their circulation base is.

        However I do not mean to imply those who happen to live in the suburbs share the editorial board’s views.

        Indeed many of the so-called suburbs are facing urban issues and therefore are natural allies of Seattle when it comes to addressing them.

      5. Sure Brent — we can find a few Republicans that support transit and the bus. Without knowing more about them, I’d guess that our King Co electeds are on the centrist side of that party. That said:

        1. Replublicans generally do not support transit and urban focused infrastructure. Particularly when it comes time to pay for it.

        2. The people of King County and Seattle in particular are left leaning and would be well served to be reminded that the remaining large newspaper that has our name is Republican in its editorial slant.

      6. I tend to agree with the above paragraph, except:

        + Amtrak came from the Nixon administration

        + The concept of funding transit based on a portion of the federal highway fund came from Reagan.

        + The very right wing Free Congress Foundation supported publication of The New Electric Railway Journal for some years.

        This concept that Republicans should be anti-transit is a fairly recent phenomena in the party. Not being a member of the party I have no idea how that came to be, but certainly for a while they were no worse than anyone else.

      7. Source? According to this their Sunday circulation rose 5.6% between Sept. 2012 and Sept. 2013.

      8. Glenn: Nixon was a bit left of Obama (he also started the EPA) and Reagan was only a few clicks right of Obama (he raised taxes.) The ideology of the right (and where the American center is located) has moved pretty far to the right over the last 40 years. Regarding Transit — At some point Republicans started to see that cities tended to attract and create liberals. From that point on (whenever that was) they started adopting policies intended to have a negative impact on cities.

      9. Glenn: Nixon was a bit left of Obama (he also started the EPA) and Reagan was only a few clicks right of Obama (he raised taxes.)

        Please, please never peddle this BS again. This is one of the dumbest zombie lies of the left, and it’s really damaging. To make any sense at all, you have to pretty much assume that the presidency is entirely responsible for any legislation passed during their term and the make-up of Congress (let alone the political mood of the times) are completely irrelevant.

        Most of the progressive legislation of the Nixon era–including the creation of the EPA and the Clean Air Act. The Clean water act was an override of his veto. Like a most of the progressive legislation passed in the Nixon era that some “progressives” are eager to give the reactionary war criminal in the White House all the credit and the progressive legislature none, the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970 was passed with veto proof majorities. (Nixon, like most people in DC at the time, thought it would exist for a few years then fade away.)

        Some links for those who propagate this cult of the White House Zombie lie. It’s shitty history and shitty politics, and I expect better from the fine commentariat at this fine blog.

  2. Is setting up fake front groups any worse than making proposed cuts more painful than they need to be in order to scare people into voting yes?

    Sent from my 64 GB iPad Air with Wi-Fi which I carry in a Jack Spade Waxwear Computer Field Bag.

    1. Sam, please explain how the proposed cuts are “more painful than they need to be.”

      I want specifics by route, not hand-waving about how it could all be done easily if only Metro would reduce night headways even further. What service should be cut that is not being cut, and what service that is proposed for deletion should be restored with those service hours?

      I’ll even start you with a small example. The proposed service cuts retain the Mount Baker “tail” on Route 14. That is one bus which should be cut and devoted to restoring the already inadequate midday frequency on Route 40.

      1. David, you know I can’t provide you with that kind of information on the spot. Will you at least give me this? There is more than one way to cut 17 percent? Some ways may be more painful, some ways may be less. Would you agree with that?

        BTW, in the proposed 17% cut, I didn’t see any mention of job cuts at their 2nd and Jackson headquarters. Hmmm.

        PS, first thing I would do is avoid deleting routes. I would make a greater effort to make only changes. Metro liberally deleted routes, and I believe, for a tactical reason. Your route is going bye bye is scary. Your route’s headway is changing from 15 to 20 or 30 minutes isn’t.

      2. Some ways may be more painful, some ways may be less. Would you agree with that?

        Sure. But the allegation that Metro’s way is purposefully more painful than necessary requires support. You haven’t provided it.

        I didn’t see any mention of job cuts at their 2nd and Jackson headquarters. Hmmm.

        How many people do you think work there? How much middle management do you have to fire, at $100,000 to $150,000 a pop (total headcount expense), to save $70 million annually?

        Your route is going bye bye is scary. Your route’s headway is changing from 15 to 20 or 30 minutes isn’t.

        Not true at all if your route is already at capacity, which many peak and midday routes throughout the service area are.

        I ride either ST 522 or the Metro shadow service, peak-only Routes 306 and 312, to work. Those run at capacity through much of the morning rush hour. Metro proposes to cut the 306, which is about 1/6 of the total peak trips in the corridor. From personal experience I know that would mean I will be left behind more often. That’s scarier to me than canceling a route which has alternative service (that is not over capacity) and which is poorly used. Virtually all of the routes being cancelled outright by Metro are either in that category or have such poor ridership as to be obvious wastes of money.

      3. Thank you for your thoughtful response and good points. That’s it for me today on here.

      4. @David. There are a couple things Sam might mean here. One is that he doesn’t believe the 17% number, but rather something less. Pierce County’s experience certainly validates this position. Another is that he thinks the details of the cuts were
        contrived to make them more painful than really needed.

        The cuts were made using Metro’s service guidelines. I think that Metro’s guidelines are more or less right for making decisions about incremental changes to the system. I also believe, that staff have done a great job of showing what a 17% cut of service would look like if the guidelines were followed. I think that changes which aren’t essentially zero sum are going to be few and far between.

        This is not to say that people aren’t going to have quibbles around the edges, or (especially) close to home. I certainly do. Mercer Island loses essenitally all its Metro bus service, just the school buses and the 204 remain. A 6pm end of service doesn’t leave a lot of margin of error for commuters leaving work at 5pm in Downtown Seattle to make the bus. A such, it’s likely to load very poorly (except as a school bus). I’d add a couple more school runs, and abandon regular bus service on MI completely.

        All that said, the service guidelines are drivien by a desire to provide a certain kind of service effectively, and to determine whether a given change supports this provision or hinders it. At some point, the level of cuts becomes so great that it’s simply impossible to provide a meaningful apporoximation of the desired service level. If that’s the case, it doesn’t make sense to sleepwalk through a set of technocratic decisions that are doomed not to give you anything meaningfully like the desired result. Instead there needs to be an open, democratic process to decide what service should look like given the financial constraints. Any such discussion is going to be uncomfortable: no one’s going to be completely happy with the results. It may also lead to something dramatically different.

        Does a 17% cut reach that level? I don’t know. My gut is that it’s close, but not quite there, but it would be interesting to hear what others think. In this particular case, most of the uncertainty surrounding the number seems to be that revenue will be higher than assumed, and that fewer cuts will be needed. So on balance, I think that the proposal is reasonable, but I acknowledge that there’s room for honest debate.

      5. @Sam,

        Actually, the FIRST thing you do is delete routes; because there are a lot of “political” bus lines, the pruning should first and foremost be political.

        I would say that any precinct in the county that votes less than 40% “Yes” should have all bus routes which pass through it truncated at the most optimal location for minimizing total coaches “upstream” (e.g. toward more dense areas) of it, unless another precinct which voted 50% or more “Yes” is “downstream” from it.

        In truth that would probably be a popular move for lots of them. For instance, I can’t believe that the folks in Laurelhurst really care about the 25. Let the servants walk from SandPoint Way. Perhaps they can stop at the patisserie and have one of those lovely little cakes on the way?

        This would be “direct democracy” in action.

        And so far as your macho tablet, dude you are being brave walking around the Eastside with an Apple Snobduct. Some MegaHard project manager might take matters into her own hands and whip your sorry butt.

    2. Sam, I reject your implication that anyone is “proposed cuts more painful than they need to be in order to scare people into voting yes”. That said, if that were actually being done, it would be much worse than setting up fake front groups. Setting up fake front groups is at worst private citizens acting in a slimy fashion. On the other hand, manipulating the cuts for political gain would be government employees using time when they should be serving taxpayers to the best of their ability instead using their positions to mislead voters.

      1. William, why do towns threaten they are going to have to layoff a few police or fire personnel if a levy isn’t passed, instead of, say, threatening to layoff a few city hall administrative staff?

        Honestly, why do you think that is?

      2. In all honesty, the fake groups are no different than the transit workers union’s, teamsters’ and WSFE’s political action committees stumping for new taxes. With more taxes, more goes into the unions in the form of dues.

        Both sides of the aisle partake in hiding behind masks and faux organizations.

      3. @Charlotte:

        At least the Unions are long standing groups with a fairly transparent agenda and memebership. Groups like Citizens for More Affordable Transit [not a real group, I hope] sprout up like weeds around elections. They might be a single issue grass roots group with no agenda beyond their feelings on the proposition to a wholly owned mouthpiece of Satan himself, willing to say anything to advance his own agenda.

        That said, it’s certainly true that both sides engage in sock puppetry.

    1. “[R]eluctantly recommends a Yes vote on Proposition 1” — hardly a glowing endorsment.

Comments are closed.