PetersonWith no advance warning yesterday and with a perfectly whipped caucus, Senate Republicans brought a sudden confirmation vote on WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson. The vote failed 25-21, with all Republicans voting no, effectively removing her from office immediately. The contentious 2+ hour hearing was filled with strong critiques of Peterson’s leadership by Republicans on the one hand, and panicked maneuvers to try to shelve the vote by Democrats on the other. Josh Feit from Publicola has a great play by play of the day’s drama.

Governor Inslee called the sudden election-year guillotine a “shameful about face” and “a blatant misuse of the confirmation process for political purposes.” Just a year ago, Peterson’s role was uncontroversial and she frequently received bipartisan praise, including by Senate Transportation Chair Curtis King (R-Yakima), who said at the time, “I want to thank you for the job you have done over the past two and a half years and I can’t say thank you enough.” Yesterday, King initiated the vote to fire her.

With tensions high both in and out of the chamber, Republicans continued the attack, with Senator Majority Leader Mark Schoesler (R-Ritzville) calling Peterson a racist while Senator Baumgartner (R-Spokane) took a victory lap, warning other agency heads that they might be next.

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This blog has been rather hard on WSDOT over the years, and there is certainly much to criticize on urbanist, environmental, and performance grounds.  The agency functions almost exclusively as a highway department, delegating transit funding and operations to local agencies. They have long had an excessive attachment to new highway capacity to the detriment of maintaining what we have. And of course, their project management – particularly on ill-conceived megaprojects like the SR 99 Tunnel and an unnecessary widening of SR 520 – has been particularly poor and occasionally scandal ridden.

But yesterday’s Republican exercise in brute power cannot be defended on any of the above grounds. First, WSDOT’s priorities are not its own, as the agency is a product of the projects and funds allocated it by the legislature, and the legislature shares the blame for any flaws that an agency that they continually make in their own image may have.

Second, Peterson inherited the megaprojects from the Gregoire/Hammond administration, and those project’s failures have been at least as much technical as they have been administrative, with the SR 99 tunnel contractor particularly to blame for much of that project’s troubles.

Third, Republicans who ostensibly care about efficient government and free market principles are most aggrieved about WSDOT’s most significant application of their supposed principles to date: dynamic tolling. Using prices as market signals to manage demand should be textbook Republican economics, but it would seem that clear performance data is no match for angry constituent anecdotes in an election year.

So Peterson’s head has rolled, and it’s unclear where WSDOT goes from here.

165 Replies to “Senate Republicans Oust WSDOT Secretary Peterson”

  1. Good on the Republicans for making WSDOT accountable. I do agree with Senator Lilias she should have got two weeks, but the twin failures of Berths and 405 deserves a sacrifice.

    I think though some of the comments not noted here but in the Seattle Times about Senator King’s upset over multimodal are upsetting. We need WSDOT to look at transit as needing more than grants.

    1. Cheer the bare knuckle politics if you must, but don’t kid yourself that this is going to be positive for transit moving forward. WSDOT now goes rudderless while Inslee starts a nomination process from scratch with zero warning. Anyone who is willing to take that nomination knows that they are stepping into a political minefield. Meanwhile, the interim leadership is going to be pressured to scuttle the 405 HOT lanes altogether. The “all roads” caucus just scored a major victory.

      1. Do that, and the SOV rage at not being able to access those lanes will only get amplified.

        That said, it seems clear that HOT lanes are a tool to fill what could be HOV lanes up with enough SOVs to keep them from going faster than the other lanes. Without Peterson at the helm, that’s what the HOT lanes will become.

      2. It is hard to say if “pure” HOV 3+ would be less popular. The arguments are so muddled right now, and it doesn’t help the case for retaining the lanes. The state argued that the HOT lanes would improve traffic flow for all lanes, and that really isn’t the main benefit. Yes, you go a little faster if the guy willing to spend the money gets out of your way, but not that much faster (or he wouldn’t spend the money). You don’t think you are going that fast because you see him (and guys like him) cruising by. The fact that you can spend the money leads to more animosity. All of this muddles the argument, and folks basically say “it isn’t working and it isn’t fair”.

        On the other hand, HOV3 does have its opponents, but the argument is a lot simpler: More people benefit. There are more people riding in three or more carpools than two person car pools. If you add the bus riders, the numbers are huge. So the two person car pool riders lose out, but the vast majority of riders benefit. That is a simple trade-off. If there is a “7 items or less” line at the grocery store, you may have to wait a long time with you 10 items, but that is life. Arguing for 3+ HOV is really a very simple argument, whereas HOT lanes runs into ethical questions (should someone have the right to pay extra to benefit more from a public service).

        What isn’t clear to me is whether both could be provided. Have an HOT 2+, along with an HOV 3+ lane. This would allow those in two person car pools to still benefit, and still raise money. General traffic would not run any faster, but general traffic will never run much faster. The added capacity isn’t enough to make much difference — you only have decent speeds by making them exclusive.

        Thinking otherwise is what I like to call the “loading zone parking myth”. Eliminate the loading zone spot and now there is a great parking, but chances are, you won’t get it. It really won’t make parking much easier, because there are only a handful of those. The same myth exists for affirmative action, as well as other situations. If someone knows of a more common term for this, please let me know (someone must have come up with a name for this pattern).

      3. Love you guys. The public goes crazy and demands heads to roll because WSDOT made congestion worse for (some) general purpose traffic. And you think that suggests the public would support you in making the express/HOV lanes even more exclusive, pushing even more traffic into the general purpose lanes? I guess I wonder what planet you’re living on.

        And on the facts, there are FAR LESS people traveling in 3-person carpools than in 2-person ones. More people per car, yes, but many many fewer cars. The reason to go from 2+ to 3+ isn’t to carry more people, it’s because there are too many 2+ cars out there to manage the lanes effectively, defeating their purpose.

        I’m a fan of express toll lanes by the way; just think you need to be honest what the constraints are to making roadway priority measures of any type acceptable.

      4. “It is hard to say if “pure” HOV 3+ would be less popular. The arguments are so muddled right now,”

        It’s crystal clear. The state has been afraid to impose 3+ everywhere because of the wrath of drivers. They think those kind of drivers are the majority of voters, otherwise they wouldn’t be so reluctant. Now they have gone further and chipped away at the tolls, and reverted to GP evenings. Reaffirming the 2-year pilot program may or may not be a sign, but it puts them in a perfect position to kill the tolls in two years and say “We gave it a chance.” The people who are ringing their sentators’ phones off the hook are largely the same ones who would oppose 3+. So if one is influential now, the other would be later.

      5. “The public goes crazy and demands heads to roll”

        When did the public demand heads to roll? The public cases about the tolling policy, not who runs WSDOT.

      6. Oh and I don’t think there was a lot of clamoring for tolling.

        I think the message is damn loud and clear: Further tolling is Dead On Arrival. We already have a gas tax, which is a toll. Not enough to cover the cost of all roads, but substantial.

        But to me, this was also about the Bertha Disaster. This was also for some about the WSDOT Secretary keeping the CRC alive and problems hiring minority contractors.

        I “think” I’ve said here I think she should have got two weeks notice to clean out her office and take care of her family. But she had to go…

      7. You’re right… there was no clamoring for tolling… but there’s a much larger issue at play:

        Washington HOV lanes don’t meet federal standards that require HOV lanes to move traffic at 45 mph or faster during peak periods 90 percent of the time. If WSDOT can’t improve traffic flows to meet that standard… they could lose federal funding.

        The 405 HOT lanes were the state’s first, real attempt to get into compliance with federal law.

        Yes, as you suggested earlier, you can make the lanes 3+ HOV and achieve the same goal, but traffic congestion would be made MUCH worse in the general lanes (which is, clearly, unpopular politically).

        Tolls bring HOV lanes into federal compliance without impacting traffic congestion in the general lanes, or if you don’t believe WSDOT’s data, they bring them into compliance with making a major impact on traffic congestion.

      8. >> There are more people riding in three or more carpools than two person car pools.

        >>>> And on the facts, there are FAR LESS people traveling in 3-person carpools than in 2-person ones. More people per car, yes, but many many fewer cars.

        Please cite your evidence before refuting my claim. If you look at page 87 of this document — http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/414.2.pdf — it shows 33% of the riders in 3 (or more) persons car pools, and 38% in 2 person car pools. If you look at this chart: http://mynorthwest.com/1024/2878003/Who-is-using-the-carpool-option-on-I405, more people currently are using those lanes with a Flex Pass (which gives you the ability to switch from carpool to pay mode) than 2 person car pools. Now, obviously there may be 2 person car pools where riders just use a Good To Go pass, but if you really operate a 2 person car pool, then it stands to reason that you would get a flex pass (for the occasional time when you want to ride for free).

        The 33% versus 38% sound quite reasonable, and what you would expect. More people 2 person cars, but more people in 3 person car pools.

      9. >> you can make the lanes 3+ HOV and achieve the same goal, but traffic congestion would be made MUCH worse in the general lanes

        No, you only make it a bit worse. There aren’t that many cars that are paying the toll. If there were, then the lane would be crowded. So by putting the tolled riders back into the general purpose lane, you would only slow the general purpose lanes marginally.

        There are definitely people who want to get rid of all HOV lanes, but that really won’t help traffic. Eventually people adapt. Right now, if you are going from your house in Lynnwood to your job in First Hill, the fastest thing you can do is form a two person carpool. There is no point in getting a third person or taking transit (that would slow you down). This is the problem, and why the rules should change.

        It really is a simple system. Once you reach a level where traffic is high in the HOV lanes, you need to bump the HOV number up. For some (like West Seattle) HOV 2 is just fine. Other roads need HOV 3, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some need HOV 4 (although we aren’t there yet). The main point is to have the HOV lanes be an incentive to encourage carpooling (and transit use). If it isn’t, whatever marginal increase in general purpose capability (it is only one lane — a relatively small proportion or the lanes) is more than made up for by people who used to carpool (or take the bus) but now just drive.

        Of course there are idiots out there that want to change the rules. But you need political leadership to explain how this works.

        Again, this is why the tolling issue muddies the water and confuses people. You have suddenly thrown an ethical wrench into a pretty simple formula. Is it fair for someone to pay for an express lane? Years ago Paul Allen wanted to pay for his own freeway ramp to his house — the state turned him down. It wouldn’t cost him the state a dime, but it didn’t want to encourage the idea that wealthy people get special treatment. Apparently that has changed — and it hasn’t helped anything. Not in this state, anyway, and not for this area.

        It is easy to assume that “the people have spoken”, as Mike implies, but they really haven’t. There haven’t been any votes, and there has been largely silence on the issue from our representatives. Right now, all the HOV lanes remain the same, even the ones on 520. If it really was a case where people are tired of carpool lanes, or prefer HOV 2+, then 520 would change. They have completely redone the road, but they are keeping it HOV 3+. The people in charge are simply afraid to change things. They somehow thought that the HOT thing would magically make things better for everyone, but it hasn’t.

      10. No, you only make it a bit worse. There aren’t that many cars that are paying the toll. If there were, then the lane would be crowded.

        RossB,
        You are making a very basic mistake. When the lanes aren’t crowded they pass a large number of cars by a given spot over a set duration of time. The “crowded” lanes crawling along have lots of people in them going nowhere. For a road to function it needs to maintain that magic 45mph speed. When it does that it “appears” to not be crowded.
        It’s a major cognitive disconnect. If WSDOT build a “sky bridge” that connected Lynnwood with Bellevue and said bridge had a $10 toll people would think it was wonderful.

      11. “There aren’t that many cars that are paying the toll. If there were, then the lane would be crowded.”

        Then why is the lane reaching $10, which was supposed to be a rare event?

      12. Bernie’s right Ross. Drop below 42 and capacity falls off a cliff. Get over 48 and capacity also starts to degrade, but not to the same degree that it does on the low side. The truth is almost nobodyh maintains the “two-second rule” in congestion; most are much closer that one second. Let twenty feet appear between you and the car in front of you — regardless of the speed and some azzolé is in front of you in a flash.

      13. The calculation of whether strict HOV lanes would be more popular than HOT lanes would generally come down to whether a busload of riders has more political pull than two rich SOV drivers.

        However, the HOT lanes in this case seem to have created more entry/exit nuisance than HOV lanes tend to do.

        Still, I’d gladly give up giving rich drivers special access to priority lanes in exchange for keeping those lanes as priority lanes. Bus lanes increase the number of people using the lane. HOT lanes simply fill in the gaps so that the buses don’t move too freely. HOV 2+ barely counts as an HOV lane, and will just get gridlocked given enough time.

        Democrats could save the day by yielding the HOT lanes and preserving a HOV lane, while making it HOV 3+. Do that not, and most of the ST3 eastside candidate projects become an exercise in fleet replacement and enlargement to deal with longer and longer trip times..

        Light rail, take me away!

      14. Thread is getting crowded, but here goes.
        The sweet spot for maximum lane capacity for cars is ~30 mph, yielding ~2,000 cars per hour according to USDOT (Highway Design Manual – Ch 21)
        Capacity drops to half by either increasing or decreasing speeds by 20 mph (eg. 1,000 cars at both 10 or 50 mph).

    2. Senator King’s scary comments:

      “King says his view shifted last fall when WSDOT staffers sounded blasé about complaints during the I-405 toll startup………,” he said in a phone interview while driving home via White Pass.

      “He also said Peterson is making it too cheap for Sound Transit to acquire right of way along state roads.

      “She’s very partial to transit, very partial to bike and pedestrian paths, all those things,” King said. “We need to protect the citizens that want to travel on our roads. That’s why we’re there. We need to protect the ability of people to use our roads, use their cars. From the get-go, she was about moving people on transit, moving people on light rail.”

      Granted, most of us STB regulars know Curtis as a “road bully” or a “road lover” for a long time now. We also know there are some Republicans – namely Senator Barbara Bailey and Rep. Dave Hayes – who have stood up to Curtis for transit.

      It is my hope a more moderate Senate Transportation chair comes about in 2017. This blog – and its commentators – need to remind folks STB endorsed Senator Bailey and by doing so accept the consequences of this politically courageous action. That means we’re responsible for helping Senator Bailey help Island Transit and we’re responsible for the State Senate going R. We’ve got ST3 and kept the county connector out of the deal, so we came out ahead. But we truly do need a more moderate, temperate Senate Transportation chair in 2017.

    3. Bertha wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for our now mayor Murray. You can apply if you can build a better tunnel.

      405 is a victim of its own success and peoples misunderstanding of the basic realities of limited resources.

      It will be easy to blame politicians on the east of the cascades for this, but the fault really is of Eastside whiners. Hurray for a potential return to 1950s transportation policies.

      1. The 405 lanes being a victim of their own success is a separate issue from WSDOT messing up their construction. I love the lanes – they get my buses through faster than ever and I use them as necessary the few times I need to drive. But I have two major issues with WSDOT’s handling of the situation:

        1. They must have known the 520 and 522 interchanges would have serious issues. Sure, they predicted Bellevue-Lynnwood time would have dropped and got that part right, but WSDOT must have known a lot of people would be outraged when shorter commutes were severely penalized.

        2. On a more local scale, they still haven’t finished re-building pedestrian facilities around the Brickyard exit. It’s been 5 months now! And let’s not get into the month when they simply closed down all crosswalk signals around there with zero alternatives and, when my wife called them to complain, were surprised to hear anyone actually cared. They still have a habit of closing the sidewalks without proper signage and there are still no accessible crosswalk signals for most of the intersections there. Seriously, if this isn’t incompetence, I’m not sure what is.

        I don’t know who is incompetent in WSDOT, but there is no way to say WSDOT actually did even a half-way tolerable job here.

      2. “they still haven’t finished re-building pedestrian facilities around the Brickyard exit. It’s been 5 months now!”

        Here’s an example of a problem. The proper thing to do would be to ask WSDOT why it’s taking so long and what priority they consider it. Unless you’re a road engineer and have studied WSDOT’s administration closely, you have no idea whether it’s because of pressing work elsewhere, contractor/supply problems, neglect, or simply that five months is not a reasonable limit. The same goes for complaints about Sound Transit’s construction, agencies “full of bureaucrats doing nothing”, and other things. People rush to judgment on things they have no experience to evaluate and they don’t know all the factors.

        W Bush said he was highly critical of Clinton through most of his (Bush’s) presidency, but by the last couple years he began to respect how Clinton handled the problems he’d faced. Obama would probably say the same about Bush.

      3. Brickyard P&R also has that infamous signal connecting the P&R with an apartment complex across the street, which won’t change for you unless you’re in a car (it doesn’t even have a pedestrian button and didn’t for years). Which means even bus riders are expected to get into their car and drive literally across the street to catch the bus.

        In practice, of course, people that have cars to drive across the street aren’t the ones riding the bus in the first place. The last time I was out there, I saw 3 or 4 people jaywalk across in the 5 minutes or so I was waiting for the bus.

    4. Oh please. If anything this shows a *lack* of accountability. The very people that fired her are the ones that gave her a list of projects to do. They specifically gave funding for the ETL, and when it backfired politically, rather than holding themselves accountable, they pointed the finger at someone else.

      1. They specifically gave funding for the ETL, and when it backfired politically, rather than holding themselves accountable, they pointed the finger at someone else.

        Exactly right. What’s more a large portion of the funding was federal dollars which will have to be repaid if minimum performance standards aren’t met. This was a two year trial and with additional support (i.e. funding) can succeed. I seem to remember similar anecdote driven hysteria with the implementation of metered on ramps. WSDOT turned them off for a week. Not another peep out of the Luddite crowd that was “so sure” it was better before the metering.

        Anecdotally, commute times (and tolls) were lower this week than they have been. Likely a result of; people getting more accustomed to the system, better weather including longer daylight hours and improved implementation of the tolling algorithm. Give WSDOT the two years and the money and then decide.

    5. Joe, if you cheer this you can’t pretend to support transit. WSDOT is trying to find a way to keep buses flowing, and the Republicans are punishing them for trying.

      1. To me, this was about more than 405. Bertha and sneaky tricks with the CRC did it for me.

        I do support transit-only lanes… it’s called true Bus Rapid Transit. If we had that to feed the light rail spine for Seattle, we could not just have a spine but a Paine Field truss instead of talking Spine Destiny.

      2. You can see the tweets from the Rs where they cite Lynn’s firing is in part because she supports transit and bike lanes over cars. I’m pretty sure you can find it on Zach’s twitter

      3. You can see the tweets from the Rs where they cite Lynn’s firing is in part because she supports transit and bike lanes over cars.

        Yep. As usual, Joe has constructed an alternate reality where Republicans aren’t at war with people who don’t get around by car. This obviously has nothing to do with Bertha.

      4. HOV 3+ would be fine. Two HOV lanes would be fine. It’s the “let rich people pay for a special exemption to the HOV limits” thing that pisses me off. Dump that – JUST dump that – and the 405 project ceases to be controversial.

      5. Thanks you Mars. I think the elitism of the former WSDOT Director – most personified by the let rich people buy an exemption – is why a leadership change was needed. Granted, the 405 tolling blame also falls on legislators…

        But as one other guy just said and I’ve said a lot lately, there are other megaprojects that went bad.

      6. It’s the “let rich people pay for a special exemption to the HOV limits” thing that pisses me off.

        So you’d be against the tolling of 520 too I presume. How would you suggest the new bridge gets paid for? I’ve been saying it for a while; the Democrats are the party of tax and spend and the Republicans are the party of spend and spend. It used to be the GOP was fiscally conservative. But in the last 20 years or so it’s just become the party of desperate ideologues that want to buy votes with deficit spending.

      7. How are you going to pay for the $8 Billion ‘improvements’ (i.e. general purpose lanes) planned for the corridor?

    6. [ah] They will no more support “transit-only lanes” than they will fly to the moon on angel’s wings.

      1. Anandakos;
        [ah]

        Transit-only lanes = Bus Rapid Transit, which is what so many Republicans and their think tank backup craves. By giving them what they wail for instead of light rail, we can expose the crazies and get a bipartisan coalition to get some stuff done.

        G*d bless.

      2. Yeah well, here’s the thing: they don’t really want Bus Rapid Transit. They only yammer about it when Light Rail projects are proposed. Otherwise, it’s crickets from the Greedy Old Party on any kind of transit.

        Sure, sure, there are the occasional rural Republican legislators who want their constituents to have State-subsidized transit for which their counties would not pay, but they’re in the minority of the party and generally refuse or are unable to see that urban areas cannot survive without abundant transit.

      3. Anandakos;

        I would say to that simply that we need to expose this “BRT but only if…” bias.

        I also need to make very clear with you that rural transit is good for urban transit, and vice versa. There is no reason why opposing transit for anybody is a bad idea.

        Now the special treatment one relatively rural route gets instead of enough state transportation money to fund competitive, accountable grants for all across the state? Yeah, I hear ya. I share your angst.

      4. Bus Rapid Transit, which is what so many Republicans and their think tank backup craves

        [ah] About 97% of Republican “support” for BRT is to undermine funding for rail. When it comes time to actually get down to the business of designing BRT, they undermine it. Look at what they’re trying to do to efforts to keep buses moving on 405 *right now*.

      5. Then let’s put true BRT on the table for 405 and dare these people to oppose that. Dare ’em. No tolls, no games just straight BRT.

        When we transit advocates do that, remind these people of their quotes gushing about BRT.

      6. ST3 is too critical to make it a wedge issue experiment on BRTism. I’m not committed to any of the LRT or BRT proposals for Eastside north-south transit. They’re all medicore. We need to support something that’s the best for all of ST3 and complements the other projects. That may be BRT on 405 or it may not; I’m still unsure and I’m hoping a better alternative proposal arises.

  2. On balance, I think firing Sec. Peterson has more to do with power politics than job performance, given the cards she was dealt coming into office.
    With that said, my heartburn with the DOT has been with transparency, PR spinning the message, and manipulation of data to put the ‘glass nearly full’ face on the agencies projects, after watching hours of testimony by DOT heads before the Senate.. I’ve long been a critic of tolling because of how much of the revenue stream is siphoned off for project implementation, vendors to run the system and the courts to enforce the whole bloody mess. Dynamic pricing of lane space, HOV usage and providing priority for transit and vanpools are all needed, but I can’t swallow the hit GP traffic is taking. They still carry 80% of he water around here. GP lanes, and diversions to arterials have been treated by the DOT as collateral damage and acceptable just as bombing raids miss their target too often.
    DBT has too many layers of failure for me to even get started on that sink hole.
    I hope the next secretary gets a better deal.

    1. Hey, Mic, I knew I’d finally come up with something you can use! My idea these last couple days of either limiting transit to one officially 45-mph- diamond lane full of cars and motorcycles, flanked by an unlimited number if GP lanes!

      And when legislature tells next transportation secretary to find one more lane someplace- put in for the new short-term job just 10 jammed lanes away, and a 60-mile walk along the shoulder down to Olympia.

      Which will take you a tenth of the time you’d need to change lanes with your bus. And thanking Heaven for every hole you wear in your work-shoes.

      Just be sure you walk more than a lane-width from the closest traffic lane. Nobody’s ever done artistic justice to a person run over by as steamroller since Mad Magazine’s Don Martin got run over by a steamroller . Same as for a state government, but less obnoxious.

      http://www.madcoversite.com/dmd-alphabetical.html

      Mark

      1. I sometimes harken back for the days the HOV lanes were on the shoulder side, shared with traffic entering or exiting he freeway. I know the justification was to avoid congestion, but I think they worked as good as what we have now.
        It’s insane to expect buses to weave across 4 or 5 lines like we do at NB Spokane, SB Virginia from 520, etc, etc, when at $100 m a pop direct access ramps can be built.

      2. The right-side HOV lanes on 520 were only because there was no room for another lane. Fast-moving express vehicles and slow-moving enterers and exiters is a recipe for accidents, along with slowing down the express vehicles.

    2. HOV usage and providing priority for transit and vanpools are all needed, but I can’t swallow the hit GP traffic is taking.

      You’re going to love it when the center roadway on I-90 is shut down for construction of Link to the Middle Eastside. Of course it’s going to seem twice as bad because they’ll close shortly after people get used to having 4 HOV lanes.

      1. Maybe Judy can convince her caucus and fellow R’s to let Mercer Is. residents (registered voters only) use the maintenance lane for intended for East Link. I’m sure the new Transpo Sec would go along rather than be spayed or neutered.

  3. Well, this is a good reminder that Republican economics has little to do with efficiency or free markets. They just want government policy to make themselves richer, whether that means fewer taxes or more spending on things they like while cutting things they don’t like.

    Peterson and Inslee both inherited a totally dysfunctional WSDOT from Gregoire, as you mentioned. They’ve made strides, and while I’d have preferred they kill the Seattle waterfront tunnel outright, that’s not in their purview: the legislature told them to build it.

    For those who, like me, have criticisms of WSDOT, keep in mind that Republicans fired Peterson because they are preparing an attack on Inslee that he is too focused on green and environmental issues and neglecting other needs. They fired Peterson because she was too supportive of bike/ped and transit infrastructure, as laughable as that may seem to many here.

    The lesson here is that if Republicans take control of the Legislature and/or the governor this year, they will do the same thing as we’ve seen in Wisconsin, Maryland, and elsewhere: take a hatchet to transit and bike/ped. And while the state so far hasn’t done nearly enough on that front, there’s quite a lot of damage that Republicans can and will do if we don’t stop them.

    1. I think considering the fact Republicans in the 10th Legislative District – both state legislators and grassroots – have led the way in rescuing Island Transit, that is some serious ignorance of local realities. Not all Republicans are as anti-transit as you might think.

      Granted a Governor AvgeekJoe never would have proposed a transportation package with massive highway expansion without voter consent – thanks Jay – nor have stood against a referendum on the package – thanks Jessyn – oh and I would have a very long, “transit captive” – thanks STB comment threads for the phrase – conversation with one Senator Curtis King… I am the kinda conservative who thinks if you want less government, okay then don’t expand highways and if you want voter approval on taxes, all or none.

      Peterson couldn’t manage Bertha and 405 tolls, that’s why I cheer her firing. Now without those scandals, I’d mourn her firing too…

      1. It doesn’t really matter that a few local Republicans have good attitudes. They get whipped when they’re in the Legislature and they end up kowtowing to the “senior” Republicans like King.

        Bertha is absolutely Gregoire and Chopp’s fault, nothing to do with Peterson at all. I can blame Inslee for not cancelling the entire thing outright.

        But the Republicans in the legislature aren’t complaining about Bertha. They’re making utterly disingenuous complaints about tolls — they’re demanding FREE STUFF from government. They want Big Sugar Daddy Government to give them FREE STUFF. If they were self-proclaimed socialists this would be OK, but they aren’t: it stinks of gross hypocrisy. And it’s really bad to vote for hypocrites. Even worse, free lanes just mean more people are caught in congestion, so they’re actually hurting their constituents; so they’re stupid as well as hypocritical.

        The Republican Party today is exemplified by Rick “let’s poison Flint” Snyder, Scott “let’s break contracts” Walker, Rick “defrauded Medicare” Scott, and so on. It is *toxic*. The existence of a few decent local Republicans doesn’t change that.

      2. Nathanael,

        You had two really good paragraphs and then went off track.

        Free stuff? That’s news to me.

        I gotta say if you’re going to go partisan, The Democratic Party of Washington State today is exemplified by Jay “Highway Expansion” Inslee, Jessyn “Sound Transit Bucks for Education” Farrell and every single Democrat who voted against a referendum on the gas tax. Which a coalition of uncommon allies of pro-transit, environmental lobby groups and anti-tax groups would have sunk.

      3. At least they haven’t gone after voting rights in this state, so we can still hold them democratically accountable.

      4. “I think considering the fact Republicans in the 10th Legislative District – both state legislators and grassroots – have led the way in rescuing Island Transit, that is some serious ignorance of local realities”

        That may be one good needle in a bad haystack. I submit for your consideration the idea that your real opponents — those who would sabotage your goals — are not Democrats or progressives as a whole, but the extreme regressive factions in your own party and the amount of dominance and control they have in the party.

      5. Did I endorse Democrats? Given the option, I’d vote third party nearly every time, honestly. (But to have the option, you need a ‘proportional representation’ election system. Which we don’t have in most of the US, apart from Cambridge MA and a couple of other cities.)

    2. I think what we’re seeing is an evolution in Republican policy caused by different factions becoming dominant over time. The Eisenhower Republicans believed in good governance (e.g., successful government programs) and compromise, like most Democrats/liberals still do. That was a change from the elitist/anti-New-Deal position in the early 1900s and reemerged now. Picketty and others have traced the cause to the triple crisis of the two World Wars and the Depression one right after the other. The Depression drove much of the 1% into bankrupcy or middle-class-dom. In war deployments everyone is equal and all have to work together to survive and accommplish the mission. (Incidentally, the military’s room/board/healthcare is 100% socialized.) When they returned from WWII they largely kept the “build a better society together” mindset… partly to prevent the Depression from returning, and partly from these new values. The 50s, 60s, and 70s saw R’s and D’s together acknowledge common goals and compromise to fulfill them. Then Republicans shifted to libertarian alternatives: toll roads instead of the taxes, Romneycare instead of the insurance-as-luxury net. Ways to compromise that still go partway in their direction. Now they’ve rejected even that, and rejected the whole idea of compromise. A pure libertarian position is, “No welfare for the poor or the rich.” But many R’s now behave like “Welfare for the rich, and nothing for the poor.” Of course it’s not that the same people simply changed their minds: it’s that new people have gotten into power and are jerking the others around. But from the outsider Democratic/liberal perspective, we can’t afford to just appreciate the moderates. We have to guard against the radical uncompromisers in power burning down the house.

      The scariest thing is that Picketty says that Gilded Age-type inequality and polarization is the norm across history. The post-WWII era was an exception because the effects of the War-Depression-War crisis lasted decades, but he says it finally ended in the 2008 crash, and the Gilded Age norm is now reasserting itself.

      The controversies over driving, transit, and free highways are peculiarly American. They don’t quite fit the general left/right divides. There seems to be powerful cultural factor: driving represents American freedom and exceptionalism and my family’s climb out of poverty. Of course it was shaped by General Motors propaganda and federal housing policies (subsidizing suburban sprawl, redlining). We could have had conservatively preserved the walkable-neighborhood form with New Urbanist-like garden cities and infill development, but no. Maximum energy consumption was proof of American success. It’s ironic that people in Chicago’s affluent north side want more transit, while people in the poorer south side are more ambivalent. (Referring to a proposal to put an El line or Metra line in an underserved south side area, and some residents saying that (infrequent) Metra is enough and others saying “Don’t take away my parking.”) Seattle has similar trends, with the 45th corridor voting heavily for transit, and Rainier Valley voting against transit and for highways and the DBT and asking for P&Rs. So transit/highway issues transcend the usual left/right categories. But in spite of that, the majority of Republicans in legislatures vote against transit, against transit taxes, for highways, and against highway tolls. If we had a Republican majority in our state/county/city councils, that’s what we’d get in the present era. The Island Transit Republicans may have risen to the occasion of saving coverage service, but they probably won’t consider making it more of a full-time service so it can be a bigger alternative to driving. Democrats may be spotty on transit, but at least they’re not ideologically opposed to it.

      1. Mike;

        Overall great comment. I’m horrified how continuing George H.W. Bush & Ronald Reagan compromise is now seen as sin by Republicans. I’m horrified how we have to educate so many Republicans that for a sizable minority of people who the supposed “pro-life” movement wants to save from abortions, transit IS their freedom of mobility. I’m horrified how just enough State Senate Republicans did not stand up to put gas taxes to referendum.

        As to,

        The Island Transit Republicans may have risen to the occasion of saving coverage service, but they probably won’t consider making it more of a full-time service so it can be a bigger alternative to driving. Democrats may be spotty on transit, but at least they’re not ideologically opposed to it.

        I think what you will find among most Transit Republicans – let’s acknowledge they exist – are that we’re into coverage service. We’re into spreading the net. Most are not into light rail. We support transit as a means of mobility.

      2. Yeah, that really is the problem. I wonder how many Republicans would agree with how Dan Evans ran things. Joe is certainly one, but I fear you are in the minority of your own party, Joe. If given an up/down vote on Evans, I think a majority of the Republicans in the legislature would vote against him. That really is how far the party has moved to the right. The same thing has happened nationally. I just don’t see Eisenhower fitting into the modern Republican Party. He is way too far to the left of Reagan, and Reagan is too far to the left of most Republicans. This was a mainstream Republican, by the way — imagine what would happen if a guy like Nelson Rockefeller ran? He wouldn’t get out of the gates.

        The sad part is that this state has had a long history of very smart, very moderate Republicans. Guys like Evans, Joel Pritchard, and a few others I forget. Now they can’t get anywhere in part because the system is so polarized. A liberal or moderate Republican from Seattle has no chance (I actually knew a guy who ran for state Attorney General and lost). OK, there are a handful of exceptions, but in general it is a really screwed up system. There really isn’t much point in having a party system if one of them is full of extremists. The party in charge simply pushes ahead, with no real check on management (because what are you going to do, elect an extremist?) while the other party just spouts forth the extremist rhetoric.

      3. Wow, that’s one hell of a nice essay, Mike Orr. Thanks. (P.S. I really admire Eisenhower. Way before my time, but I really admire what he did, especially the administrative reorganizations and maintaining the high tax rates on the superrich. Even if he did saddle us with the disaster now known as the military-industrial complex… at least he warned us about it on his way out…)

  4. The Republicans must think that they are going to turn the dislike of i-405 toll lanes into winning Eastside districts by parading Peterson head on a stick.

      1. That is certainly part of their grand plan. As is using their senate subpoena power to whip up frenzy about the early prisoner release fiasco.

        And all the while they will do nothing about McCleary, or fish passage (also a big court mandate), or transportation, or anything else in the state.

  5. The solution is to make Transportation an elective office accountable to the citizens, not a majority of 50 possible votes. Washington has a lot of elective offices that most other.states do not. Let’s add another one.

    1. The Senate confirms (or at least fails to non-confirm) dozens of agency heads. We can’t possibly make every one of those elected.

    1. Jay Inslee’s retirement would certainly be a gift. But it is hard for even an Andy Hill-type climate-change denying Republican to outdo the carbon footprint of the Inslee administration. Inslee’s time in office was a disaster for the planet.

      1. If Inslee decided not to run it would be a major blow to the R’s. They would have to run their little known ghost of a candidate against Dow, and that would be like leading a sheep to its slaughter.

      2. And yet Inslee was an improvement over Gregoire, who can quite accurately be blamed for the entire Bertha fiasco.

  6. “Shape up, do your job. Serve the people w accountability.”

    Would this not be applicable to senators whose jobs it is to confirm (or reject) nominees in a timely manner?

      1. I don’t think that’s true. The D’s still believe in governing responsibly and making government work. The R’s have been trying to reduce governments size and effect, and have no problem with weakened and less effective government. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic legislature choosing not to confirm a Republican governor’s cabinet choices as a craven political strategy, even though this sort of shenanigan makes revenge sound attractive.

      2. Quasimodal – craven political strategy?

        Between keeping CRC breathing against the desires of legislators and STB, bungling Bertha and the 405 Toll Disasster her head had to roll.

        Let’s not equate Republicans in this state to evil, the enemy, etcetera. I’ve worked with and been part of a different group of Republicans than alleged who came together and saved Island Transit from the brink while most progressives did nothing if not were part of the problem.

        Washington State Republicans are a different species than national Republicans. We have to be.

      3. Honestly, if you want to prove that you’re a different species from national Republicans, secede. Disassociate from the National Republicans.

        It’s been done before. State parties have repudiated the national party in the pre-Civil-War era and in the Progressive era and in the 1960s.

        Your organization is tarred by those it associates with, unfortunately. Just like local Chambers of Commerce, although usually quite decent by themselves, are tarred when they associate with the obscenely corrupt US Chamber of Commerce.

    1. C’mon, Crunchy. Learn the language! “Accountability” has a very strict definition, agreed on for decades:
      poor people being punished! However, in this case, there is a simple remedy to place this thought in a correct context.

      The electorate is obliged to replace five Senators with five other ones. This course of action will result in, given the inability of the aforesaid Senators to find an employer to hire them because of their lack of skills and character, they will be come poor.

      Thus, they will be become fully eligible, by reason of being jailed for vagrancy, and upon release be re-jailed for failing to pay court-costs, and when released again, be jailed for trespassing by sleeping under bridges. They will thereby have taken the first step to be eventually held accountable.

      So watch it…we’ve got a ledger on you!

      Mark

    2. It would be funny if the State Supreme Court uses those words in the next McCleary contempt of court hearings

    3. It is quite possible that the same dynamic that is driving politics in the country is also driving statewide politics. It has been a long time since a Republican has won the governorship. But Republicans have controlled part (or both houses) of the legislature. This is because of districts. There are a high concentration of liberals in the city, while a moderate majority of conservatives in the suburbs. It really isn’t gerrymandering, exactly, but a natural concentration of like minded individuals in one area and a more diffuse electorate elsewhere.

      Power switches back and forth in the suburbs, so those representatives aren’t necessarily as powerful (they don’t have seniority). So that leads to more extremism. Meanwhile, to keep their job, the suburban swing district representatives (from both parties) get promised “goodies”. This explains the transportation budget. The most questionable project was in the competitive suburbs. Both parties hated it — the left because it was (or is) a huge, big freeway that will only encourage sprawl. The right because such a wasteful freeway costs a bunch of money. But both shut up, or made meaningless, symbolic votes just so that it could pass, and they could hope to keep that seat.

      I really think the state is screwed up right now. I am a big fan of Inslee, but he is getting schooled, left and right. OK, right and right. He is simply getting hammered from a political standpoint. He is getting played. He doesn’t have the guts to stand up and say “this is stupid”, because he thinks the Republicans are a bunch of Dan Evans/Joel Pritchard, reasonable representatives. He figures he can give them what they want — compromise here and there — and it will all work out. But what he doesn’t understand is that they are out for blood — and then smell it in the water.

    4. How can a confirmation be three years after starting the job? What happened last year? It sounds like she was confirmed last year and then the legislature called for a second conformation now? But how can there be a second confirmation? Is it just a funny term for a no-confidence vote?

  7. This was really bad governance, pure and simple. I’m not talking about Peterson, I’m talking about the legislature. This is essentially an instant recall, even though nothing she did was close to that level of malfeasance. No responsible Republican stood up to question the process. This is an absurd way to govern, and will have long term ramifications. If they didn’t like her, then they should have rejected her a long time ago. Now Inslee is stuck without a backup candidate. All of this was done after a bipartisan transportation project was passed.

    Inslee needs to start playing hard ball with the Republicans. It is obvious that few, if any, of these people are interested in good governance — they just want to play politics. The more the state government screws up (and this will of course lead to more screw ups) the more it plays into the extreme “the government is the problem” mind set of the loony right (and the cowards that go along with it). Way too many Democrats across the country have been rolled that way. Assume the guy across the aisle is bargaining in good faith, only to find out that is trying to sabotage everything so that he and his buddies can gain control later.

    The Republicans want to suspend the HOT plans — how about we suspend everything? Just stop all construction spending because of you no longer have a head. Without the architect of this compromise, maybe it is time we rethink transportation spending in the state. How about we put the thing up for a vote — or are Republicans against a public vote on spending?

    1. Oh yeah baby, I want the gas tax – and the bloody highway expansion Jay Inslee-Curtis King deal of devils – voted down.

      I’m the kinda fiscal conservative who thinks just because it’s nice you don’t have to have it. We also need to fix our bridges first.

      1. I’ve argued for a while now that a very interesting coalition could be put together for transportation, if the state wasn’t so screwed up. Get the fiscal conservatives together with the liberals and focus on fixing our bridges first. Maybe spend a little on a few overpasses here and there. But don’t spend billions on grand schemes, or huge expansions. Save yourself a lot of money, and then call it a day.

        But that coalition isn’t happening because Olympia (like Washington D. C.) is broken. The folks in charge aren’t interested in that sort of thing. They want to score political points.

      2. Having the state capital off in some minor city is never a good thing. We see the problems here in New York, and in Pennsylvania, and in Illinois….

        You’d get better governance if you moved the capital to Seattle. Gives the outstate legislators *perspective* on the needs of the major city, while giving the city legislators a shorter commute.

      3. Nathanel, surprisingly of all your comments to me, the one I almost agree with is moving the State Capitol to Seattle. No, what I’d rather do is move the state legislature to Seattle, Bellingham, Spokane, or Bellevue. Just the state legislature. Keep the state executive and judicial branches in Olympia – good for the economy

        Right now, there are no good connections for transit captive folks to make a daytrip to Olympia. There are no regularly scheduled flights stopping in Olympia – which would be a must for a state legislature host city. Only an Amtrak Station a substantial distance from Olympia.

        In fact, for Seattle, since KeyArena isn’t being used for a major portion of the year… just turn that venue into the legislature. This way legislators can experience the big city, media can more easily cover the state legislature, there is great transit, and taxpayers get value for money.

        I agree with you that there’s a huge disconnect between the legislature and the people. It’s only growing…

  8. This was a sad day for WA State and signals a descent into full gridlock politics, which they were already flirting with.

    This firing is about their desire to make the I-405 HOT lanes an issue they can run on.

    I personally don’t care for HOT lanes… In my opinion HOV lanes don’t really work to change SOV behavior so let’s have a bus lane and be done with it. HOT lanes are also polically poisonous and amplify equity complaints (we are proving that now.)

    That said – this firing is just as anti-science as other Republican positions (Global Warming, etc.). WSDOT was attempting to use a data driven approach to lane availability and their Peterson is being punished for it.

    For those of you that cheerlead for BRT here. Know that WSDOT controls the lanes and state politics control WSDOT.

    1. I agree completely, Keith.

      Except for that last thing about BRT. A lot of BRT doesn’t run on the freeway. Also, if memory serves, the West Seattle Freeway is run by the city. Same with the Spokane Street Viaduct, if I’m not mistaken.

      1. Ross – I was speaking specifically of highway BRT in this case. In places WSDOT isnt in charge we are just fighting against the powers of good enough in concert with those who feel they are losing something… A powerful duo.

      2. Keith, there is no such thing as “Highway BRT”. There are express buses which may stop at “freeway stations”, “bus pads”, or “flyer stops” along their routes. But they are not, not, not, not, not, not, NOT “BRT”.

      3. Ok Anakondos, let’s call it: “supposedly rail competitive buses that use highway lanes” then.

        I am highly skeptical of them due to the timelines we’re talking about and the politics in play.

  9. Senate votes to remove WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson

    Sen. Cyrus Habib, a Kirkland Democrat, said problems with tolling and Good to Go passes are the fault of lawmakers.

    “Those are not issues created by an administrator,” he said. “Those were issues put in place by us and by our predecessors here in the Legislature.”

    He’s got my vote.

    The Friday afternoon vote was 21 to 25, with Democrats voting to confirm and Republicans, along with one Democrat who caucuses with the GOP, voting to remove her.

    I’m guessing “the one” would be Tom Sheldon? That still leaves 3 MIA and I can’t find the voting record anywhere.

    Mayors write letters of support for Sec. Lynn Peterson
    Thank you Arlington, Puyallup, Renton and Mt. Vernon.

    1. County executives on firing of state transportation secretary Lynn Peterson

      We, the Executives of King and Snohomish counties, give our unqualified support to Lynn Peterson, the Washington State Director of Transportation… We believe it is a grave mistake for the State Senate to overturn the Washington State Governor’s appointment for exclusively political reasons.

      Constantine and Somers call for a reversal of the vote.

      Senate votes to remove WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson
      Missing link to The Capitol Record article, sorry.

    2. There may be problems in WSDOT, but firing the director is not the way to solve them. Instead, identify the problems and legislate solutions. Or talk with the director about how she’ll address the concerns, and if she refuses or seems incompetent, then publish her refusals or incompetent statements and fire her. What is the message to WSDOT now? “No tolls ever”, and “Be very afraid if a contract starts failing.”

      1. The actual message to whoever may be interested in the job, is “You are our puppet. And we don’t give a damn about your twenty-five years of professional ‘experience’!” Governor Inslee may as well accept that he’ll have an interim director for the next five years.

  10. Remedy? Look online to find out your voting district- Federal, State, and local.

    Then call party offices, both of the major ones, and find out your precinct, and ask name of current precinct commitee-person.
    If answer is “nobody”- put in for the job.

    Your choice of parties, though major ones have the structure that other parties will need to build. And both presently need, on practical matters, to be refreshed by same thinking and qualities as yours. As many individual members of both would be first to agree.

    If the job is filled- find the officeholder and invite them to coffee. Before the conversation’s over, you’ll already know what you need to do next. In Sound Transit service area, my guess is that if the dog likes you, nothing above will get you killed.

    Mark

    1. Not that hard in Washington. We have absolutely baroque and opaque local parties here in NY, practically designed to prevent participation, honestly.

  11. In other related news that makes me very happy because as a recipient of a gun crime, I’m happy this jackal got the hint…

    Corrections secretary resigns amid early release controversy
    http://komonews.com/news/local/state-corrections-secretary-resigns-citing-political-blood-thirst

    Washington state Corrections Secretary Dan Pacholke resigned on Saturday amid a controversy over the early release of prisoners, telling a Republican senator he hoped his departure would satisfy the “need for blood.”

    The Department of Corrections and governor’s office disclosed in December that a software coding error led to the early release of up to 3,200 prisoners since 2002 because of miscalculated sentences. At least two deaths have been tied to the early releases.

    Pacholke’s resignation comes a day after the state Senate ousted Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson. That rare move Friday was taken by the Senate as majority Republicans and a Democrat who caucuses with them voted to not confirm her gubernatorial appointment. Some Democrats argued the act was a political ploy.

    “I notify you now of my resignation. I hope it helps meet your need for blood,” Pacholke wrote Saturday in an email to Sen. Mike Padden, a Republican from Spokane Valley who is chairman of the Senate Law and Justice Committee. “I hope it gives you fodder for the press and fulfills your political needs so you can let this agency, our agency, heal.”

    Pacholke’s departure comes amid two ongoing investigations into what led to the software error and early releases.

    . . .

    The damage that has been done to the department by this error, though it will take time, will make it better if it is allowed to address this as a system failure and fix the issues this crisis has exposed.

    It’s guys like Pacholke why I’m still a most moderate Republican… job well done Senate Republicans, job well done. Crime victims take solace. Happy to see some accountability restored to gubernatorial appointees – and anybody on Team Bryant next year better know the Governor and the State Senate are going to be held to the same standards set in 2/2016.

    1. I’d rather have this discussion in tomorrow’s usual Open Thread, since for me, the matter of the prisoners’ release is very complicated and extremely personal. None of us in public transit have any sympathy for the kind of crime that left friends with brain damage.

      But Governor Inslee, Corrections Secretary Pacholke’s boss, stole his response from Police Chief Claude Rains in “Casablanca.” “Shocked! Shocked!” By a condition of years’ duration that Mr. Inslee had to know about, but nobody thought worth fixing.

      The result was a summary round-up of people who had left prison with an honest belief that they’d already paid for their crime. As witness release papers signed by an officer. Over the matter of exactly how many individual days of being locked up that they still “owed” the State.

      If happened to me, I’d consider it torture. I know these are gut reactions to a situation most of whose details I don’t anywhere fully know. But these are the deepest and least rational gut reactions triggered by the appearance of something I really hate : Liberals panicked into throwing away their best impulses in the face of attack.

      Which – as witnessed by a previous Governor joining the Legislature’s handing Tim Eyman a victory the Supreme Court had denied him – is Hell on public transit.

      Regretfully, Mark Dublin

      1. Mark;

        I gotta say the shadow of I-695 and subsequent damage to transit still looms over Skagit Transit and I suspect many county-level transit agencies. It also still – but is fading – over Washington State Ferries.

        Back then, we didn’t have Transit Duke’s (aka Seattle Transit Blog). We didn’t realize we transit advocates had to rise up and defend ourselves. We didn’t have any airpower to really go stand up for transit like we do today.

        I mentioned the resignation of the Dept. of Corrections Director to note it’s a good consequence. I’m hopeful now it’s clear to Jay Inslee: Get your administration doing right things on the big stuff, no more surprises or else.

        There’s also a psychological impact from the past 36 hours or so that is going to linger over the Inslee campaign from this. Some doubt mixed in with some very real fear. I suspect that’s part of the plan to get Bill Bryant elected… so when is a STB journalist going to ask Bill Bryant where he stands on transit? Please get on it.

        Joe over and out

      2. No need to ask, Joe. Here it is from the horse’ ass….er, mouth:

        As your governor, Bill Bryant will order WSDOT to:

        Prioritize funding and operations to eliminate traffic jams, so people can get to and from work and spend time with their families.
        Implement a statewide freight corridor approach to ensure we have the bridges, truck routes, and highway lanes we need to efficiently move freight and keep family wage jobs in Washington.

        There it is, my man. Not one word about transit; not even a cursory nod. The omission may be considered a fairly shrill dog whistle.

        Why am I not surprised?

    1. Republicans are worthless and destroying our country.

      The Senate Republicans in Washington State are worse than worthless. There’s plenty of other bad actors which the current sorry state of the GOP seems to attract. Personally I hope Marco Rubio can save the GOP and save America from Clinton II. But closer to home I’m not seeing any great leadership from the Democrats in the 48th. Patty Kuderer is a piss poor stand in for Ross Hunter. Joan McBride I admit to not knowing much about but given the recent “we know better than you” attitude of the Kirkland City Council I have my doubts. I do have to say, although I didn’t vote for him, I’m damn glad we’ve got Cyrus Habib instead of Rodney Tom. The one bright spot on the Kirkland City Council seems to be Republican Toby Nixon.

      1. Toby is a good guy. I think he is a Republican out of habit more than anything else these days.

        Toby Nixon was the lone voice of reason on the Kirkland City Council voting no on the letter to ST asking for a choo choo train for Xmas. Either he’s the only one in touch with the wishes of Kirkland citizens or their silent majority is the best kept secret and worst organized electorate in the world.
        [ot]

      2. Sorry Joe. I want moderates. Or maybe a better term would be realists; and don’t care if they put an R or a D in front of their name. Light Rail to Issaquah, Orting, etc. is just plain stupid when what we’re funding in the only area of the State where the investment actually pays off (Seattle) gets short shrift. I know you’re passionate about people being able to take “the Light Rail” from a P&R in the Muffler District to the Future of Flight Boeing Factory Tour but I see that as exactly the type of wasteful spending we should avoid and a poster child for Right Wing Nuts to attack as spending big bucks on projects that do nothing but make Liberal Democrats have a warm fuzzy feeling that they are saving the planet.
        Let me make this really cut and dry. Light rail up Japanese Gulch when we don’t even have a plan on the table to access areas like Ballard, the CD, Seattle Center, SLU, etc. is just plain crazy talk. It doesn’t matter if you live in Everett, Tacoma or the Eastside, the best investment for everywhere based on own person self interest should be Seattle. And we’ve got a young liberal voting electorate in the City that is begging to tax themselves and fund a large portion of it on their dime! As Jeremy Clarkson would say, “BeBe Jesus” take the money and run.

      3. Bernie;

        Once again you misrepresent my position in your quest for more light rail for Seattle. Believe it or not, I’m an advocate for east-west trusses to Spine Destiny STARTING IN Seattle. Just as I support more light rail on the Eastside.

        I am also an advocate for a bus or bus rapid transit or a streetcar for the Future of Flight. It is the #1 tourist attraction in Snohomish County, brings out-of-county and out-of-country people to the area who then pay substantial sales tax into transit only to not get adequate transit service. Adequate is NOT light rail.

        Without more buses for many more Paine Field destinations than a factory about to lose a production line – namely the 747 – I am going to be very quiet about ST3 with a 90% chance of a Paine Field diversion. OK?

        Chill.

      4. Once again you misrepresent my position in your quest for more light rail for Seattle.

        Nope, I think I nailed your position, “rail to nowhere to buy votes”. Strange that that is typically a D position.

        Future of Flight. It is the #1 tourist attraction in Snohomish County

        Yippy Skippy, what’s the #2 attraction? Olympic National Park and the Hoh Rain Forest is #1 in WA, let’s run light rail out there! If tourist attractions are your gold standard then maybe Seattle Center, the Seattle water front or Pike Place Market? Joe, you really should switch parties because “investment” based on “social justice” really seems to be your thing rather than any sort of economic benefit for all. I know the Seattle liberals would hate the moniker but investment in high capacity transit in Seattle (where it belongs) has trickle down benefits for the rest of the region.

      5. I think in more colours than light rail. I think buses are fine. I think streetcars are nice.

        Yep, you should join the D’s. Everything is good, it’s all free so why make any real decisions. Hint, decisions actually involve giving up something you want for something that’s better.

      6. Bernie,
        (BTW glad to see you posting again)
        I have to agree. East link is a marginal line at best. Any further rail on the East Side (beyond East Link completion) would be insane and a complete waste of money. The same goes for spine completion, though the numbers for Federal Way-Tacoma and Lynnwood-Everett are much better than I expected (again mostly showing just how marginal East Link is again).

        While I agree with others here that BRT is probably better for West Seattle than rail, it still is a better rail line than any rail proposal outside Seattle.

      1. I have NO clue what you are all talking about now, so let me just say what happened to Sec. Peterson is shameful. Bow your heads Legislature.
        (I approve of this message)

  12. I wonder if the Koch Brothers/Americans for “Prosperity” were specifically behind this and pushed their bought and paid politicians to go after her now?

    1. More likely Loren Parks. He’s a Las Vegas businessman that views Oregon as a testing ground for various Tea Party and Libertarian experiments that he funds. His Tea Party candidates had various run in with Peterson when she was on the Clackamas County commission some years back.

      Look at Lynn Peterson’s bio. She’s been involved with sustainable planning and the like for years. It’s also everything Loren Parks is against. Maybe he’s moving some of his money into Washington now as part of a personal vendetta.

  13. If you want to play hardball- I could see more support for a (reverse) Eyman like amendment that pops up in the Stranger comment section when Seattle gets ticked at the Eastern part of the state– each county gets no more back in state dollars than what it pays for in taxes (except where there are constitutional exceptions).

  14. A lot of comments about tolling here, but little about mismanaged mega projects. Peterson inherited the situation, but in 3 years hasn’t reigned in the tunnel, and the 520 problems began on her watch.

    I don’t like the political nature of this at all, but the ends might justify the means on this one. Let this be a lesson to manage our state’s resources better.

    1. What exactly would you have expected her to do to ‘reign in’ the tunnel? It is mainly in the hands of the design-build contractor. There are limits to how much you can tell them to do without having their problems become the State’s problems.

      The 520 problems started in design, before she arrived.

      1. ’ the tunnel? It is mainly in the hands of the design-build contractor. There are limits to how much you can tell them to do without having their problems become the State’s problems.

        The 520 problems started in design, before she arrived.

        100% correct on both counts. STP is already making noise that the State is going to have to pay for halting the work “just because there was a tiny little sink hole” after they had quit monitoring the earth being removed and they had a “tiny little accident” where a barge tipped over. Design Build contracts sound great until the low bidder screws up and then wants the State to pay all cost over runs. 520 was a known disaster from day one because Washington loves to “do it on the cheap” with military style temporary pontoon bridges. Don’t worry, after sinking as many bridges as we have we know how to do it now… pay no attention to the cracks in the pontoons before they are even installed. This is all on the legislature.

      2. I doubt Inslee was wiling to let Peterson cancel Bertha outright. I’m quite sure that was above her pay grade. Maybe she suggested it (I would have) but she certainly couldn’t have cancelled it on her own.

      3. I know some of you got a crush on Lynn Peterson and think she’s some kinda angel or something; but a REAL LEADER would have shut the damn thing down or resigned to force the issue.

        STOP DIGGING.

        STOP DIGGING.

        STOP DIGGING.

        Thanks.

  15. Speaking as a strong tunnel supporter for six years and counting, I would assess this move by the Legislature as a very positive one but with the hope that WSDOT can now find someone who can effectively lead the SR99 viaduct replacement project to a successful conclusion. There has been a failed leadership on this project for many years now as neither Inslee nor Peterson have been sufficiently interested in seeing Bertha through. The vacuum in leadership in Olympia has been disastrous and as of now, I have no intention of voting for Inslee in the fall. We can turn this around with more effective cooperation from the STP but with so many cantankerous folks in Seattle willing the project to fail, I seriously doubt that the STP wants to do much more than get out of here alive. The reaction of Seattle to Bertha has been a complete disgrace and wishing the SR99 project to fail doesn’t remove the problem of the viaduct with it.

    1. It will get done. It’s just a matter of when and how much carnage occurs between then and now. STP isn’t the best contractor in the world, that is for sure, but I don’t see them being replaced. The tech is good, but the operation and control sucks. But ultimately it is all on STP’s shoulders.

      Inslee,just needs to find a to let STP get back to work without putting Washington state on the hook for approving the plan. That will be harder without Lynn Peterson at the helm, but it needs to be done. Thank you R’s for making a bad situation worse.

      1. Lynn Peterson isn’t the one who has authority to say stop digging though. It’s the state legislature that set the tunnel as a transportation priority. She didn’t even sign the contract with the tunnel contractor. Until the legislature says stop, she would have had no choice but to tell them to keep going because those were the orders from the elected body.

        If you hire a contractor to install a new sink in your bathroom for $500, and he uncovers $25,000 worth of dry rot damage that needs to be repaired, it isn’t his fault, and probably isn’t your fault either. Chances are, it is the fault of the house owner from 10 years ago that let the water leak into the wall. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and deal with unexpected expenses.

        Either way, the contractor’s job is to get the job done that you told him to do, not to decide if the project is worth doing or not.

    2. effective cooperation from the STP

      Um, er, you do know that the main partner in “STP” (vroom-vroom) is Tutor Perini, right? The folks who make endless book low balling bids and then suing the agencies who let the contract seven ways from Sunday. Yeah, that Tutor Perini.

    3. I don’t think you’ll see much better from a GOP governor. Actually it will likely be much worse. I’m guessing many on the GOP side would love nothing more than to shut the tunnel project down and somehow ensure City of Seattle taxpayers are on the hook for project costs and lawsuit settlements. With the added bonus that traffic gridlock once the current viaduct is shut down for safety reasons is blamed on “Seattle Liberals”.

      Also watch for sneaky ways they will try to grab various transportation funding and funnel it to Okanogan County.

  16. I don’t doubt that a good many projects have had problems develop. But especially things that have a tunnel in them, a good many things can’t really be directly blamed on anybody.So a fair assessment should include comparison with similar projects elsewhere.

    I’ve never liked “Design-Build”, because mistakes on the project can only be solved in expensive, delaying litigation, rather than the owning agencies’ own management. Much like outsourcing work, worst defect to my mind is that the operating agencies forget, or never learn, how to either design or build anything.

    Also think privatization of public work creates an automatic conflict of interest, because companies are bound by law to put their shareholders first. Unlike public agencies whose shareholders elect the Board-putting controllable parts of the project in their hands. Creating strong incentive to learn requisite skills.

    But by far the worst effect of the present political direction is to consolidate a very dangerous habit that one party has favored, and the other failed to stop: Inculcating the idea that the Constitution, and especially the Bill of Rights, are budget items.

    Our State has the most children jailed for skipping school of any country on the civilized Earth. And we’re behind only Texas for people jailing people too poor to pay court costs. Violating the State Constitution’s ban on debtors’ prison by calling it “Contempt.” Suggesting possible judicial treatment of legislators as well.

    I recall a TV interview with a juvenile court judge who said reason he sent children to jail was: “It’s the only tool I’ve got. The State doesn’t give us any money.” Or to public schools either, putting all our Reps in contempt as well! Or to mental hospitals, making our Corrections system the biggest, and least qualified mental hospital there is.

    Remember what percentage of any State Legislature can be sure they’ll never be personally injured in any way by the failure of anything public. Roads and bridges? “We got Helicopters!” Dead farmland? “Refrigerated jetliners.” Sewers? “System we own works just fine.” Permanently poisoned water? “See under ‘H”. To the airport. And put the seats back in the jets and turn down the AC.”

    How many of these people are up for election this year?

    Mark

    1. Any large construction project involving unseen soil conditions can have issues.

      Tunnels are expensive so when they go wrong they really go wrong.

      However, the project to rebuild US Highway 20 east of Newport, Oregon has been a years long mess involving bringing the entire project to a halt, replacing the entire contracting team, demolishing significant parts of the incomplete highway, and then starting over. They could go into a bunch of finger pointing I suppose, but the reality is the ground in the Coast Range is extremely unpredictable and sometimes it just isn’t worth it to get into all that.

      There really has to be a better way of doing contract management for these large projects than what we currently do in the USA. In terms of rail transit, nobody spends more per mile of track than the USA (even high wage and highly unionized countries like Germany do it cheaper). Somehow, we’ve become terrible at project management here, and the amount of influence that private contractors have over what is built and how it is built seems to be part of the problem.

  17. OK, what do citizens (and Republicans) think about http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Tolling/SR167HotLanes/ ???

    Weren’t the 405 changes based on success with SR167?

    I really hate the way WA State transportation funding basically now currently subsidizes rural lunatic Republicans.

    +1 million for the idea of making rural districts/counties subsist on what revenue they can generate locally to get their wheat, apples, and trees to markets.

    1. 167 doesn’t go through the center of the region’s population or affluent areas. I think (although I don’t know for sure since few buses run on it and I don’t have a car) that it’s less used and less congested than 405 or I-5. The tolling policy is also somewhat different from what I’ve heard.

      Neither 405 nor 167 is a rural road or primarily for agriculture. The King County part of 167 mainly serves working-class areas and heavy industry. The Pierce County part of 167 mainly serves exurbs and heavy industry. Agricultural dominance is further out, and would more likely use I-5 or I-90.

    2. Also, it’s not the rural areas or agricultural businesses that are asking for more freeways. They just want their state highways maintained, and better freight priority around cities. It’s the outer suburban/exurban areas that are asking for freeways, and they’re primarily commuters rather than people working on the land or in local industry. The suburbs are generally swing districts but some are turning bluer. The exurbs are more Republican but may turn more swingy as they get larger. Marysville/Smokey Point may be a bellwether to watch, as it’s apparently turning from an exurb (semi-rural, few businesses) to a suburb (more businesses and density).

      Re agricultural highways, 2/522 is probably a major route from north central Washington. I-90 goes southeast rather than straight east, so for Yakima I imagine 82/90 is more popular than 12/410/167.

  18. Let’s not kid ourselves. This move has little to do with specific unpopular projects and everything to do with election-year politics. Republicans have not elected a governor in Washington since 1980, and this year they see at least a glimmer of hope. The more political damage they can inflict on Jay Inslee, the better the odds for their guy (whoever it is).

    1. Maybe WSDOT should shut down the toll lanes.
      The sooner the better.

      However, since the HOV lane had been bogging down with 2+, they will have to remain at 3+.

      That’ll settle their hash (whoever it is they’re after).

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