initiative118Initiative 118, the Seattle-only measure using property taxes to avoid cuts to routes that spend at least 80% of their revenue hours in Seattle, is collecting signatures. It’s also collecting endorsements from Seattle legislators:

former mayor Mike McGinn… West Seattle Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-34); West Seattle Rep. Eileen Cody (D-34th); Ballard-area Rep. Gael Tarleton (D-36); Southeast Seattle Sen. Adam Kline, 37th; Southeast Seattle Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37th); North Seattle Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D-46); and North Seattle Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46th).

In an interesting bit of inside baseball, Mayor Murray got Sen. Kline to rescind his endorsement:

“He made a request,” Kline told me by phone. “I think he’s right. He pointed out that they wanted flexibility and I’m more than happy to give it to them.”… Kline volunteered that he’s on his way out of office and isn’t “subject to pressure,” nor did he get “steamrolled.”

This move made a lot more sense a short while later:

It appears we’ll have two efforts to restore service cuts. As always, the merits of any proposal are highly dependent on the details. STB will take a closer look at the text of Initiative 118 later, and the Murray plan whenever it emerges.

45 Replies to “Action to Save Metro Heating Up”

  1. my problem with the mayor is he didn;t have any plan ready to go immediately after the vote failed. he is always two steps behind everything, waiting for this magical process to pan out.

    1. Agreed — Murray’s cunctatory action doesn’t pass the smell test. Why not join forces or work with Plan C? Why do something as fishy as asking Kline to rescind his endorsement?

      1. And now we see the hypocrisy.

        Far for being the Transit-Lovers they purport to be, Seattle politicos realize that charging Seattle homeowners (or rather, the Downtown Syndicate and its commercial properties) tax, is a 3rd rail for those put in power by the Inner Circle.

        However, extracting dollars in sales tax from the poor and working poor of King County, is always a good way for them to fill their coffers.

    2. People are assuming a lot about what the mayor is planning and why. I’d rather see what it is before passing judgment. But in the meantime I’m signing the initiative, and the mayor’s plan would have to be at least as good as it to gain my support, with no additional waiting or uncertainty. Governing by initiative is problematic, but rolling back Metro to 2000 or 1990 levels is worse.

      As for a “countywide solition” whatever that means, the time to propose that was last January or February, if the mayor has a better idea than what the county council proposed.

  2. Of course, we aren’t going to wait for his statement to see if we should collect signatures. There is only a month in which to get said signatures, so waiting even one week to see what proposal the Mayor has could be fatal to this initiative.

    If he had a real proposal, he should have just come out with it, not try to derail the only serious effort going on right now to reverse the transit cuts.

  3. “Bait and Switch”. “Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt”. All the old GOP stand-bys.

    Would someone remind me again why Ed Murray thinks he’s a Democrat?

    1. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Murray is a “DINO.” However, it looks like he is one of those people who think “regionalism” and “consensus-based problem solving” are ends in and of themselves rather than means to an end. Well, we tried that approach and it got trounced last week. It’s time to move on.

      1. It has nothing to do with that. You’re being far too generous to Murray. It’s called “ego”. He’ll do anything to screw this city, as long as he can a photo op or credit for the good things *others* do.

        And, there’s no doubt that he’s a D–he’s lame and has no vision. But that’s meaningless in Seattle. If you had to categorize that in our political landscape, he’s definitely right-of-center. Progressive? Not a chance.

    1. You have to be a voter registered in Seattle. If you live in another city, there would need to be another initiative for that city.

  4. I’m guessing Murray’s long awaited plan will be to hold out for the 2015 state transportation package…which has no chance of passing and will probably end up excluding any funding for transit.

  5. If the bits and pieces that I have seen bear any resemblance to the truth, then it would appear that Mayor Murray is trying to develop a plan to save ALL of Metro and not just the Seattle piece.

    That may or may not be possible, but I do think it is the goal we should ALL be working towards.

    1. I’d love it if it could all be saved, but unless Murray has a big surprise for us, I don’t think it’s likely enough to pin all our hopes on it at the expense of Ben’s Seattle-only proposal. Plus, even if all Metro is saved, Ben’s Seattle initiative can still go forward to improve Seattle service still more!

      1. Exactly! It’s fine if we can somehow restore all the service cuts. But why should we be held back in trying to go even further?

        My fear though is that he’s gong to ask us to wait on legislative action, probably a deal which would include us buying off on massive road construction all over the rest of the state, but would only give us some slightly better funding options to take to the voters a year from now. Almost certainly no councilmatic authority, so no guarantees it would pass anyway. No thanks.

      2. Is 118 worded creatively enough that, if Murray (or whoever) manages to secure funding for Metro in general, we could put that property tax revenue to use further *improving* transit, as opposed to protecting/restoring what we have now? Cause that sounds like a win.

      3. The rest of the state can just burn. As far as I’m concerned, they can fend for themselves if they want transportation. They haven’t bothered in the past decade, why now? And why should we subsidize their unsustainable living patterns and transportation desires? Nope. No way. No how.

      4. kpt: The answer to that is “yes”. The initiative would allow expansion of new service should there be surplus service hours.

    2. Why? The majority of the non-Seattle county does not want it; that’s clear. The margins in most districts were far too lopsided to be just “I hate car tabs” or “the tax is too regressive”.

      Nope. The “No’s” were quite clear: they believe that Metro in general and the transportation division in particular are too expensive for the value they receive. That’s their right and they have some plausible, but only that, arguments.

      While they were willing to vote for ST2 because it got Link to “West Redmond” and north to Lynnwood and funded the ST Express system generously, they won’t vote for ST3 because the only thing in it for the ‘burbs will be the extension to Federal Way. Most of ST3 will be consumed in the Downtown-Ballard and Ballard-U District projects and the folks out in the county just do not care what happens in Seattle. Except the Mariners and Seahawks, of course.

      Anything that will screw Seattle is OK with them; Seattle folks ought to take a page from their playbook and stop being patsies. Vote yourselves some transit, people and let the rednecks walk when gas hits $10 per gallon.

      1. +1 Although, I’m pretty sure they’d still vote for ST3. There is a rail bias with people. They love that stuff. And, the expansions in the burbs are more significant that you mention. There’s also a certain love for SoundTransit over Metro. Image matters. And they have a good image.

      2. you know what, I have absolutely no issue with Bearing, Skykomish, etc saying know to the tax, Why you may ask? Areas that do not receive any Metro service would be net donators at 100%. If you can not understand why communities that have contributed taxes for decades and never received a penny back for what they have paid, might not want to pay any additional taxes, then you need to stop and think about it.

        As to ST3, you are forgetting about Sub Area Equity.
        The Snohomish subarea will pay for Link to Everett.
        The East King subarea will pay for link to Issiquah, and DT Redmond.
        the South King and Pierce subareas will pay to extend Link to Tacoma.
        The Seattle Subarea, will be able to add additional routes to link.

      3. I bet that if you took Prop 1, striped out the roads component, cut the price tag in half, and re-ran it in November in a major election cycle with less conservative voters, then it pass.

        Of course getting to November without major cuts is the hard part.

        Personally I think it was the road component that sank Prop 1. Adding roads in muddled the message and doubled the cost. And the roads component was very ill defined, had no accountability, and was not very well defined.

        Voters tend to prefer accountability and transparency, and the roads component was neither.

      4. The roads component was there to fill the funding gap for KCDOT, Roads Division. But it needed to be the same tax for the incorporated areas too. So the county council had a specific purpose for those funds and the cities would have gotten essentially a slush fund for their own projects. It was in the various cities that the road money was ill-defined.

        Add to that it was only 40% for roads and the tax was per vehicle, not per person or per household and lots of people in suburban and rural areas thought they were getting shafted.

        I think the council would have been better off if they had not tried to completely backfill all of the budget holes and put forward a smaller tax. Maybe the sales tax plus a $40 car tab fee, $20 to replace the CRC and $20 for the roads budget.

      5. @Lor Scara,

        There is nowhere near the bonding capacity remaining for ST to do all the projects you listed. ST3 will be Link to Federal Way — if that far — downtown Redmond and one of the two in-city projects. It may include some new buses as well.

        That’s all that can be afforded until the ST1 bonds are paid off.

      6. Agree a hundred percent about Seattle moving ahead on its own right now. In any kind of contest or conflict, the side that takes the initiative has best chance of winning.

        In addition, the airstream of a moving vehicle tends to pull things along with it. The faster and more powerful the vehicle, the stronger the attraction.

        The vote outside Seattle? Remember that on both sides, this election drew a miserably small percentage of the electorate. Fifty-five percent of thirty or forty percent is nobody’s mandate.

        And also: fact that the freeways are generally plugged up inbound into Seattle in the mornings and outbound at night, and parking lots both ways on game nights, indicates who needs to go where the worst.


      7. @anandakos, you are correct given the current sources of revenue. However if ST is given additional tax authority then additional projects become possible.

      8. @Chris,

        Why would the Republican dominated Senate agree to give SoundTransit more taxing authority? Are you thinking that would be part of a “grand compromise”? Well, it wasn’t in the Senate bill passed in the last session.

      9. The state created Sound Transit and expects it to come back for ST3 and 4 to complete its mission. That’s different from the county and city transit agencies that are trying to backfill their operations or expand service hours. Sound Transit wasn’t on the agenda in the last session because the time wasn’t ripe for ST3. In any case, it would be a separate legislation, not part of an omnibus transportation bill, because I don’t think ST1 or ST2 were enabled that way.

        Of course, if the anti-transit, anti-tax factions in the legislature are getting stronger, that spells general problems for ST3. But not necesarily the same problems that the transportation bill and Metro are experiencing.

  6. Keep Seattle moving and pass Ben’s initiative and do Murray’s if we can. Do both and lets finally end our long regional Metro transit nightmare!!! Let’s decouple Metro from the politcs of the anti tax crowd and watch the transit regressives in Olympia cower with fear that thier roads might not get all the money.

  7. It’s fishy that the mayor is pressuring other elected officials to rescind their support without presenting any ideas of his own. The cynical part of me thinks he doesn’t want anything to pass unless he can claim credit for it. Frankly, in my 23 years in Seattle I’ve learned that the county and state voters cannot be trusted. I am completely convinced beyond any doubt that a Seattle only plan is only possible way to maintain our bus system.

    1. The twitternet is speculating he wants to save taxing authority for his own projects. Some of them are good and worthy, but can happen even with a transit bill. And beyond that, it’s a lot easier to go to the state and ask for more taxing authority for, say, universal kindergarten than for transit that the state’s already voted against and that our own county has voted against.

      1. Could be. He is, after all, the boss over more than just transportation. He has a lot of things to balance.

      2. And of course, by universal kindergarten I mean universal preschool. Actually, universal kindergarten would be nice too – did you know public school only provides half day for free?

      3. Pre-kindergarten is daycare pure and simple. Pull kids out of the home and indoctrinate them into political one think at the earliest possible age. I know that minimum wage working couples or single family parents need help but we don’t need to create a system that perpetuates poverty via the Nanny State. There’s a serious need to educate the adults; but an informed and independent electorate is hard to control.

  8. This piece of news was the last thing I needed to see after the day I spent in Portland yesterday. Every time I go there, and the whole time I stay, I ask myself: “Why can Portland run a transit system and we can’t?” Suspect I now have the answer.

    However, while Ben’s campaign is not the element that has behaved badly by divisive behavior at the worst possible time- I think this is an excellent opportunity to present an example of how grown-ups behave.

    I think that it might be a very good move for the Initiative 118 campaign to issue a public invitation to Mayor Murray to attend tomorrow night’s event at the Spitfire and present his plan there.

    And at least offer in public to sit down with the mayor immediately to see if there’s any possibility of presenting a United Front. That way, in the Yiddish phrase, nobody can call you (somebody who does )what a dog does to a fireplug.)

    And meantime, move ahead full-bore on the effort that’s already been announced. There’s a reason why this procedure is called an Initiative. And you’re also no longer standing in front of the fireplug.

    Mark Dublin

    With both the invitation and the attendance, or not, recorded for TV news.

  9. We need to remember that Initiative 118 only allows the City Council to raise the property tax rate and devote it to buses. It does not require them to do it. The only limitation is that , if they do use this authority it must be spent on Seattle bus routes, as defined in the initiative. If the legislature really does come up with something, the City Council can just not ask for the property taxes the next year.

    I am getting a lot of push back when I ask for signatures. Folks really do not want to pay more property taxes. And I’m hearing the Seattle Times mantra from lots of folks. We need to develop positive information about Metro efficiency improvements and the wages of bus drivers.

    1. I can not understand the mind-set of people who jump on the wages for a job that they would not do for any amount of money.

    2. People don’t “want” to pay any tax. You can only convince people with benefits — or just not convince them, it isnt necessary to get everyone to sign, just people who agree we need to preserve Metro service — which is a winning percentage of Seattleites. I would hit them with one counter and then move on if they just want to argue. People who want to argue Seattle Times talking points are just wasting your time.

      Some points to side step:

      1. KCM is more efficient to operate and more essential to quell congestion in Seattle than in the rest of King County — and that is where we are looking to save service.
      2. KCM is middle of the pack to operate on a cost per mile basis. That wraps all of the other financial arguments into a single easy-to-swallow package.
      3. Metro drivers average income is less than the Average Median Income in King County. The fact that a few drivers who worked long hard hours were able to make more doesnt mean drivers are getting rich. Its a hard job.
      4. Property tax is a far more progressive funding source than sales tax or car tabs.

    3. I’m not seeing much pushback among those under 35 or among transit riders. Homeowners who drive everywhere are going to be a tough sell, but at the same time other than the latte tax and bag tax, Seattle voters have never met a tax they didn’t like.

    4. @Mike,

      In what part of the city do you live? A look at Oran’s precinct level map shows a few tan areas. Perhaps that’s where you’re getting the pushback. If this can get on the ballot the folks in Capitol Hill, Queen Anne and the U-District will push it over the line.

    1. I see Mr. Murray is well on his way to failing to live up to the very low expectations I had for him on transit.

      The thing that just absolutely kills me is this:

      Murray, however, bristled at the idea that he’s been part of a series of failures at the state and county level that led to this current mess. “Transportation—that’s my first love in government,” he said. “Unlike the people who are proposing this, I’ve actually gotten funding for transit.”

      Can he be any more delusional?

    2. universal pre-K the most important thing he can achieve as mayor, citing the high rates of poverty for local African-American and Latino children in Seattle.

      Maybe a transit system so that the parents can get to work might be important? Oh, wait, as an old school Demonicrat he wants to keep a population beholdin’ to the government to lock in their vote. I can’t believe you guys voted out McGinn; and actual progressive with a brain.

  10. Ben’s initiative should pass. Property taxes are a much fairer way to finance transit and should be part of a multi-leg stool. Mayor Murray doesn’t like it, as its passage would cut into his source for parks, the seawall, etc. However, property taxes are somewhat oriented towards ability to pay – certainly more than sales taxes and a flat VLF are – and businesses contribute towards them as well. In Portland, my understanding is that they have employer taxes as a funding mechanism for their single transit agency, something we don’t have and thus aren’t enjoying the economies of scale from here.

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