Buried in the text of the Monorail petition is this explanation of the proposed governance structure:
(a) Nominating Entities – Allocation of Nominating Sources and Nominated Candidates for Board Positions. The first and successive board members for the Board shall be selected only from the ranks of each of the following Seattle-based organizations or institutions of the successors thereto: for Board Position 1 – one individual from the Sierra Club Cascade Chapter, for Board Positions 2 and 3 – two individuals only from the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition, for Board Position 4 – one individual from the Downtown Seattle Association, for Board Position 5 – one individual from the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, for Board Positions 6, 7, and 8 – one individual each from each of the following University of Washington departments, a tenured faculty member or professor emeritus from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs, a tenured faculty member or professor emeritus from the University of Washington’s Economics Department, and a tenured faculty member or professor emeritus from the University of Washington’s College of Built Environments, for Board Positions 9 and 10 – two individuals who regularly participate in the affairs of or belong to any of the City of Seattle’s District Councils, and for Board Position 11 – one individual from the Manufacturing Industrial Council of Seattle.
These nominees would be confirmed by the City Council. The board would then pick its last two members, without Council approval, from a self-nominated pool of applicants. Public officials are explicitly prohibited from board membership.
By the standards of most Puget Sound rhetoric, the proposed entity is “unaccountable” because the members aren’t directly elected. But I’m on record that directly elected boards are terrible, in fact only accountable to single-issue hacks like us and people with a vested interest.
That said, the problem with this proposal is that the nominating entities are themselves unaccountable, although Council oversight partially mitigates that. Furthermore, several of the anointed organizations have a history of status quo bias and overwrought concern about “impacts” than bode ill for good transit planning.
The ideal form of accountability would be the Mayor appointing the Board with Council confirmation, and holding them accountable for the general conditions in Seattle of which transportation, including the monorail authority, is a part.
There are many good reasons to vote against the monorail petition, but the desire for a directly elected board is not one of them. What do you think of the proposed structure?