Sen. Bob Hasegawa

Five Democratic Senators, including Bob Hasegawa (who represents parts of Renton, Tukwila, and Sodo), yesterday teamed up with all 24 Republicans to pass SSB5001, which would govern Sound Transit with an elected board. Mr. Hasegawa apparently thinks that this Republican plan is inspired by a better way to get high-quality transit, or perhaps he doesn’t care about high-quality transit. Because his new comrades are tweeting stuff like this:

The TNT has the goods on their agenda:

During Wednesday’s floor debate, Senate Majority Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, hinted that lawmakers may consider additional ways of reforming Sound Transit in the coming weeks. Schoesler said by passing O’Ban’s bill, the Senate was “off to a good start — but only a start.”

Republican lawmakers, who control the Senate with the aid of one conservative Democrat who caucuses with them, have proposed other bills to change how Sound Transit operates, including letting jurisdictions release their voters from paying Sound Transit 3 taxes and reforming how Sound Transit assesses vehicle values to determine car-tab fees.

The other four Democratic Senators are Guy Palumbo (1st District), Jeannie Darneille (27th), Steve Conway (29th), and Tim Sheldon (35th). Mr. Sheldon famously caucuses with the Republicans, so he isn’t a surprise.

The action now moves to the House, where the Democratic majority is small and even some Seattle legislators are in favor. Let your representative know you’re watching.

This bill is a transparent attempt to override the will of the voters in approving Sound Transit 3 by adding yet more veto points to the process. For more on why this bill is a terrible idea for anyone who wants an escape from traffic, you can read this, this, or this.

82 Replies to “5 Democratic Senators Side with Republicans Against Sound Transit”

    1. I’ll wait to bring to Skagitonians some of that Sound Transit awesomeness. Heck knows we need it


      1. William C;

        We are in agreement. Different subarea taxation levels. I wish I was writing for Page 2 right now, I’d lay out the Skagitonian referendum to be a JUNIOR member of ST (but that’s off topic).


      2. I agree as well. Although there is no reason to panic, because (correct me if I’m wrong), under the current system, Skagit county would have to vote to be annexed into the ST taxation area, and would therefore have to locally approve the same SM/ST2/ST3 taxes for Skagit, which would only realistically happen if there was an unknown baseline support for ST already in Skagit county, which would be very good for Sound Transit awesomeness.

        It would also (in addition to providing ST express to Skagit) provide extra funds for new projects in Skagit (which would probably be pitched as part of the annexation vote) like Sounder to Mt. Vernon, which makes more sense in terms of speed and usability than even Sounder to DuPont in ST3.

        As far as speaking of potentially dangerous ideas, this idea is only as potent as it is beneficial, so I don’t think there is any concern in that regard.

      3. Thank you AlexKven, I think we need to start looking to the North for growing transit support as clearly Pierce County outside of Tacoma City Limits has made clear they are tapped out.

    2. [comment policy whining] I get there is just some real personal disagreements and perceptions about this and we’re just going to be shouting at each other over something that will likely die this year in the State House and reemerge in a better version next year.


      1. Joe, comments about comments do not add to the discussion. Your view that boards should be elected is valid and may be expressed here without fear of deletion or moderation. But most of what you are saying in unrelated to the substance of the issue, and your prolific commenting is also crowding out other voices, so we are going to be aggressive about marking comments off-topic on this issue. The comment policy promises ‘arbitrary and capricious’ moderation, after all.

      2. Duly noted Zach. You guys know the respect I have for you.

        All I ask is you leave alone the one comment I made specifically spelling out where the anger comes from:

        This to me is about a LOT more than just electing transit boards. This is about waking some elites up. As a paid journalist you know your job is to afflict the comfortable.

        That said, I’m not trying to start any flame wars. I’m exhausted fighting all my transit friends.

      3. I’m exhausted fighting all my transit friends. If you’re exhausted, some rest might be in order.

    3. I knew you would be the first comment, Joe, and I love it. I appreciate the passion you have about the issue and your willingness to express your opinion, but I would ask you to tone down the comments a little, since wildly off-topic discussion and ad-homs don’t really help the reputation of the minority opinion on the blog that we share. Even worse, you could get banned like mic was. That being said, I think the mods went a little overboard in removing nearly the entire comment.

      What I find most frustrating about this is that this is an (but fortunately the only) instance of the STB board heavily pushing an opinion down as doomsdayish for ST when there is not as much consensus on the issue within their own ST-supportive readership as they project, and seem to (by comparison) ignore actual anti-ST legislation like some that seek to reduce car tab collections for Sound Transit. Such legislation (depending on potency) would wreak havoc on ST3 and possibly bring it into financial crisis, requiring truncations, but it’s the elected boards that they choose to write multiple articles a month about portraying it as “Anti-Sound Transit.” I don’t think it’s perfect, but really the only way for the voters to force ST’s hand on project proposals is to vote no on things like ST3, and for ST to come back in 4 or 8 years, hoping that they fixed the right issue. And that only ensures the perpetual threat of the “no” campaign in future initiatives. I think we can do better.

      1. This is not an editorial by the STB board, it’s an article by Martin. It’s not STB telling everybody to do something, it’s Martin’s opinion. It doesn’t even say to do something, it’s just saying that this is happening in the legislature.

        The issue at hand is what the legislature does, both in this bill and in hinted-at near-future bills. It’s not really even about the abstract issue of whether elected boards are better or not; it’s about what specific kind of board this bill would impose and what would be the consequences of that.

        The more critical short-term impacts are not the board structure, but the changes in taxes that could put a hole into ST3. Which jurisdictions would opt out, how much would changing the MVET calculation affect the budget and projects? At worst if ST loses a lot of tax authority and has to renew it every ten years in a vote in order to continue ST3, then we might see only the “early deliverables” — the early garages, BRT lines, and Federal Way Link.

        If somebody wants to write about why elected boards are better and what an ideal elected board would be like, Page 2 is open. One could even compare the differences between this bill and an ideal board, and what changes this bill would have to have to produce an ideal board.

      2. The next podcast should be interesting. Maybe it will be Frank and a mystery state senator. :)

      3. Thanks Seattleite and Mike Orr, I stand corrected. I was talking about d.p., not mic (sorry mic), and it wasn’t right to confuse Martin H. Duke with the rest of the board (sorry rest of the board). I might do a page 2 sometime if I find some time, but basically a lot of it comes down to the trade-offs that I think are worthwhile. I think that broad republican support doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s bad for Sound Transit (otherwise, like I’ve said before, bi-partisanship is truly dead), and apparently at least 5 democratic senators agree with me. And gerrymandering was a concern, which can be avoided completely by setting some non-arbitrary boundaries like counties (admittedly, subareas could be gerrymandered, but that’s difficult; counties are more difficult). However many seats that remain after dividing between the 3 counties can be at-large seats, which are unaffected by gerrymandering. As for candidates becoming politician-like, I think that’s a necessary evil, and one which has been accepted for many important higher offices, and with the ST board being a much less high-profile office, I think the ugliness of campaigns won’t be as pronounced as a mayoral or state senate, and certainly not as pronounced as the governor or national office. Again, a trade-off, but a worthwhile one in my opinion.

      4. Thanks Alex.

        I knew you would be the first comment, Joe, and I love it. I appreciate the passion you have about the issue and your willingness to express your opinion, but I would ask you to tone down the comments a little, since wildly off-topic discussion and ad-homs don’t really help the reputation of the minority opinion on the blog that we share. Even worse, you could get banned like mic was. That being said, I think the mods went a little overboard in removing nearly the entire comment.

        Thank you, I do want more transit advocates on transit boards. I am also displeased at the lottery system for getting local electeds on transit boards for a limited time (worst offender being Community Transit).

        I think I know better than to speak about STB comment policy except to say my 25-hour hiatus from STB was specifically to prevent exacerbating the situation. Also the feedback I’ve gotten in other places has made me recognize SB 5001 is about the worst possible way to make transit boards elected.

        What I find most frustrating about this is that this is an (but fortunately the only) instance of the STB board heavily pushing an opinion down as doomsdayish for ST when there is not as much consensus on the issue within their own ST-supportive readership as they project.

        I agree. I think there is a deep disconnect between STB leadership and STB readers, commentators & some donors on this. Although SB 5001 is about the worst possible way to make transit boards elected, would force Sound Transit to be a short term organization meaning maybe building one station at a time to respond to 4-year ST Boardmember terms; we need to force a dialogue between transit agencies and transit advocates. Right now we seem to be pretty insulated from one another – except during ballot measure time. That must change.

        Seem to (by comparison) ignore actual anti-ST legislation like some that seek to reduce car tab collections for Sound Transit. Such legislation (depending on potency) would wreak havoc on ST3 and possibly bring it into financial crisis, requiring truncations, but it’s the elected boards that they choose to write multiple articles a month about portraying it as “Anti-Sound Transit.”

        Yeah as a monthly donor (unless I’m banned from commenting), I want to register my displeasure at this. Very firmly. I would gladly have an elected ST Board of fire-breathing transit advocates needing Transportation Choices Coalition to give them a paying job & benefits (and we all know how good TCC raises money for politics) rather than lose the revenue to build ST3.

        I don’t think it’s perfect, but really the only way for the voters to force ST’s hand on project proposals is to vote no on things like ST3, and for ST to come back in 4 or 8 years, hoping that they fixed the right issue. And that only ensures the perpetual threat of the “no” campaign in future initiatives. I think we can do better

        I agree. ST3 is imperfect, but it became take it-or-leave it. Sound Transit Board & Staff did what they could.

  1. Someone on Reddit posted a response from Sen. Pedersen saying it won’t get out of committee in the House.

    Still, we need constant vigilance.

    They won’t stop coming up with ways to kneecap transit. Some day, they may sneak one in. Just another reason to be glad that Inslee won re-election.

    1. OK, we’re going to try this again and if the mods don’t like V2, I’ll stop. My intent is to show where my anger comes from.

      At least we’ll have the dialogue at the State House Transportation Committee and maybe wake up the Washington State Transit Association membership (aka state transit agencies) some of us transit advocates are really upset at being told to sit down, shut up. What do I mean by that perception? Try you the transit advocate only get one 60 minute Community Advisory Committee meeting a month although you know the concerns about your agency require 90 minutes a month, you know transit agency staffers at some transit agencies (e.g. Skagit Transit) cannot take the bus to/from work, you only get 90-120 seconds or if lucky 180 seconds of public comment at transit board meetings but have to travel hours on transit (4 hours round-trip to Skagit Transit for me) to attend, you get this moderator who won’t allow debate at ST open houses encouraging more talking at, and worst of all you see transit board members not openly debate with one another to see how compromises are made.

      You want to know why I’m supporting this? There you go.

      Time for the cold water from a dear friend who screams, GO SOUND TRANSIT.

      Again, I am not doing a V3 of this. I respect STB mods too much.

    2. Here’s a copy of what Sen. Pedersen’s office sent me:

      “Thanks for your message and your opposition to SSB 5001. I voted against the bill yesterday when it passed out of the Senate. As a close neighbor of the Capitol Hill Link station who uses light rail all the time, I am a great supporter of the agency and its work. Delivering great projects on time and under budget — and then with ridership numbers far above projections, I think that Sound Transit has a lot to be proud of, and that record of success is the reason that the voters approved the ambitious ST3 package. I found it hard to get worked up over the histrionics of the Senate Republicans, since I feel confident that that bill will die in House Transportation.”

  2. There has been plenty of discussion on the planning process. After discussion, planning, and voting, stuff just needs to get built, so I am all for keeping it appointed. I’ve met with Sound Transit folks, taken surveys, voted, read publicly available documentation, including summaries, charts, etc. and I have full faith that this process has been very inclusive in terms of input and opinion.

  3. This is a good reminder that the fight for ST3 and to build those projects did not end at the November election. Republicans, aided by some Dems who ought to know better, are going to keep attacking Sound Transit until they get their way – or until we make them stop.

    A big part of the problem seems to be Pierce County. We lost the ST3 vote there and that is a problem, as you’re now seeing even some Democrats there voice concerns or criticisms of Sound Transit. ST needs to figure out how to deliver faster there, and all of us advocates need to figure out how to build more support for transit there.

    ST and us advocates also need to be more responsive when attacks come in on things like the MVET. Those attacks are potent and can do lasting damage. We need to make it clear to all House Democrats that this should be opposed and that it is not acceptable to support it.

    1. Well said Robert. Again, I’m not interested in starting flame wars and I hope my agenda is clear that I have a fanboy crush on ST, I appreciate ST3, [ot], but I want a lot more public input into transit agencies. A lot more.


    2. It was very shortsighted that the Legislature didn’t fix this issue with the vehicle valuation tables long ago. It just gives opponents an easy target to make people mad. Had they fixed it back in the 80’s or 90’s when it first came up, some of the opposition to the car tabs that led to Tim Eyman’s rise could have been avoided. Not to mention the current issues with ST3 using the same tables.

    3. MVET is a huge lightning rod in the Bothell area where I live. People are totally buying the Seattle Times spin that the formula used by DOL (for years before ST3) to calculate the value of cars is a case of Sound Transit lying to overcharge voters. In fact, it’s just a quick way to calculate a comparative baseline to use when setting rates in enabling legislation. Even with a blue-book value calculation instead, Sound Transit would have just asked for a higher rate to end up collecting the same amount of revenue over time. So a bit of bureaucratic trivia that’s not even the responsibility of the transit agency becomes a club to whip up the mob against future projects (and to support bad policy like this bill to split Sound Transit into a bunch of directly elected transit districts).

      All that to say I agree with Robert that agencies and activists need to be more proactive in responding to attacks on funding sources.

      1. Exactly my point. Why not just use a blue book value and apply a higher rate? Why invite this criticism by “overvaluing” cars? Ever notice how your house is ALWAYS worth more than the assessed value? Takes the issue of valuation off the table.

    4. Link doesn’t have to go to Tacoma and Everett immediately anyway. It’s the wrong technology serving sprawlsville. If ST3 gets torpedoed by the crew of reactionaries who will be elected to the board from outside Seattle, well, they’ll be like that Trump-voting woman screaming at her Republican Congressman that the ACA saved her life. Too bad, so sad. Let ’em sit on the freeways. West Kent to Lynnwood and over to Redmond is just about the optimum for the Spine, and the truth is that Seattle can afford to pay for Ballard-West Seatle itself.

      Maybe Seattle going it alone would just do the WSTT instead and forget trains for awhile.

      And if the area between Kent and Tacoma and that between Lynnwood and Everett actually fill up with multi-family housing, well the train is going to follow the freeway anyway! Extend it then when people are really fed up waiting in traffic.

      1. “Link doesn’t“. Yuk!

        And, “like that Trump-voting woman…”

      2. Addendum.

        Actually chopping the Spine at West Kent and Lynnwood and “suffering” secession from Pierce and South King on the ST3 taxes just might get the best of all possible worlds.

        The seceding areas can’t escape from their ST1 and ST2 obligations; they voted for it, and bonds are encumbered. But the Leg might let them get out of ST3 while at the same time relieving Sound Transit of the obligation to build the full published plan.

        Certainly the Pierce sub-area would be owed a significant amount for the “banked” portion of its contributions to ST1 and ST2. That could be met by providing free service on the existing ST Express and South Sounder routes serving the county. When the money is “paid back” they could rejoin as a “junior member” or do without.

      3. More Addendum

        The important thing to remember is that North King, which is where more rail is needed, can pay for what it needs if it can keep its taxing authority. If NorKing doesn’t fight secession then the Leg May in fact allow it to keep the authority. The suburban Senators and Representatives that are leading this rebellion will be able to say “Look, I got all these taxes off your back, and if you want to go to Seattle for a Hawks or Mariners game you can drive to a Link park and ride and get a ride mostly paid for by Seattle.”

        But if the completely scuttle the District, South Sounder will stop and Lynnwood and Overlake won’t happen. It really will be an urban system, because North Link is essentially done. Seattle really does have ’em by the family jewels.

      4. Regardless of whether losing Pierce and south King might be a way to get rid of dumb extensions, it’s a hack job that would have consequences beyond that, and it would set a bad precedent that you can carefully agree on something and then have some parties renege on it. It’s like when some politicians vow to replace Obamacare with something better, but they have no idea of the details in it or what the consequences would be of doing a hack job. If you really want to do something “better” then you need to go through the whole year-long process like the original plan took in order to adequately consider all the details.

        Does “North King keeping its tax authority” merely mean allowing ST3 North King to continue, or something beyond that. Seattle’s problem is that the legislature has not allowed HCT-level tax authority outside the ST process and the dormant monorail authority. Since it hasn’t done it so far, it’s unlikely to do so now. However, without knowing the hinted-at near-future bills, I assume the proponents have a more far-reaching restructure of ST in mind. A new board itself could fundamentally change ST3 or cancel it. And the legislators seem to have in mind making future ST3s or ST2s as we know them impossible, instead going for projects smaller and shorter-term, and possibly requiring revotes every 5-10 years, which would make it difficult to plan things with certainty and lead to cost inefficiencies. (Note the last point: the revotes are supposed to make ST more accountable and efficient, but may have the effect of making it less efficient if it can’t make long-term plans and commitments.)

    5. The CORRECT thing to do is to reorganize your stupid county borders around metropolitan areas, but nobody will consider that. (England did this under Thatcher of all people.)

  4. As I recall, STB endorsed Guy Palumbo, when the incumbent in the 1st district was the comparatively transit-friendly Luis Moscoso (who is hardly without fault, but opposed previously versions of this bill and reiterated his opposition on social media yesterday.

    I would suggest more vetting next time. I will be voting for anyone other than Palumbo in 2020.

      1. Palumbo believes in elected boards for large agencies.

        When we endorsed Palumbo, we believed he would be better than his opponents on tolling/I-405 issues. That arguably holds up. He’s voted the wrong way on this bill and on Rossi’s anti-tolling bill. But he hasn’t demagogued the issue as one of the defeated candidates continues to do. With the benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t recommend endorsing anybody else.

        This looks like a naive vote for a maliciously constructed bill, but not support for the ill intentions of the bill sponsors. Palumbo has not endorsed any of the other anti-Sound Transit bills.

      2. Rep. Moscoso was trying to balance a suburban constituency that was extremely irritated with the bottleneck on 405 in Bothell caused by the lack of high-capacity lanes north of 522 with his own commitment to funding transit. That’s a hard balancing act and he often fell short of what transit activists would prefer, but he tried. I think it’s totally unfair to call the other side of that balancing act “demagoguing.” People in his district were and are mad about the tolls and now the MVET, and any representative in that position is in a difficult spot.

        Rep. Palumbo doesn’t seem to recognize the transit constituency at all. There are also some very vocal Democratic Party activists who oppose transit projects who seem to have his ear (including the Stop 405 Tolls guy). While education is not related to this blog, Palumbo also leans against public schools in his support of charter schools, which in context with his transit votes paints a picture of someone who will pander to the worst anti-government sentiments for political support. That’s a bad deal for the future of transit.

      3. Yeah, I don’t think anybody foresaw the MVET becoming such a hot button AFTER the election. If it were apparent, we would have heard more about it from #NoST3 before the election.

        I don’t understand why Hablewitz’s mumbo-jumbo criticisms have anybody’s ear. But he sure has embedded himself in South Snoco politics.

      4. Personally I won’t re-litigate the August primary. But I would argue that the composition of the ST board and Republican attacks on the agency are more important than the future of I-405 tolling. Something to consider for the future.

      5. There are plenty who will judge ST on the quality of the I-405 “Bus Rapid Transit” lines. Reducing HOV capacity to one lane through that stretch isn’t going to help.

        That’s still the legislature knee-capping a portion of the ST3 capital improvements list.

      6. Erik, and WHY does this guy say “Prefers Democratic Party”? He seems like a Trojan horse candidate.

      7. I don’t think he’s a trojan horse, there’s just a lot of conservative areas in the 1st. The highway 9 corridor does not represent a particularly liberal wing of the party, and the general election fight was largely driven by highway traffic concerns.

        He’s on the liberal side on higher ed funding and climate change, as well as numerous social issues. And he opposes car-dependent sprawl. Plenty of light between him and WAGOP.

  5. The companion bill in the house is HB 1029. Write to the House membership and reference that bill ID number. Might consider updating the main post, too.

    1. HB 1029 is effectively dead. The bill that will be heard and considered in the House Transportation Committee will be Substitute Senate Bill 5001.

  6. So, this is what I just sent to Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos. I live barely two houses into the 37th district on its northern (and probably not very representative) edge, but I figure my voice should still count:

    “I find your support of HB1029 outrageous! Your co-sponsorship of a (clearly) Republican plan to undermine and ultimately destroy ST3 is either extreme naivety on your part, or is a troubling sign of your opposition to light rail expansion. I ride U-Link every workday between my home in Seattle and my job in Montlake, and since its opening almost a year ago, I have saved nearly 45 minutes a day in commute time by using this ‘miracle’ on rails. You, of all people, should be ST’s biggest cheerleader since our district has benefited massively from their projects. However, your support for HB1029 is in direct opposition to this agency, and more specifically ST3. Republicans from across the state are lining up to squash light rail and, in general, any effective public transportation, and while a frontal assault would be very difficult, they are attempting to co-opt people like yourself to sabotage ST3’s landslide win last November. It’s not about accountability, so don’t fall for their scam.”

    1. Thank you. That’s a well-constructed “hot under the collar” letter. She’ll notice.

    2. So I actually sent a nicer version of that letter to Rep. Santos last month. I just spoke with legislative assistant the other day. She was very nice and I appreciated our conversation.

      I explained to her why I was concerned about Rep. Santos’s sponsorship of the bill. She explained that her boss felt that ST wasn’t responsive to neighborhood concerns like a normal elected board. I asked for examples; she said that there were problems with overcrowding on ST, parking and zoning in her district. I explained that zoning and parking are city issues, and the only ST line in her district is Link Light rail, which rarely has overcrowding at the MLK stations. She said the Rep. felt very passionately about this and her mind was not likely to change.

      I’d encourage people to reach out to her and other Reps. Hearing from voters is the best way to influence policy.

    3. I was in Santos’ district up until a few years back. I was unimpressed, and started wanting to vote her out after the DUI, but she also never had a credible primary challenger. Would be a 2-democrat general election if she ever had one, in that district the republicans only ever put up a token sacrificial wingnut and run no meaningful campaign.

      1. Yep, Sharon will probably have that seat until she retires. I have met with her before on transit and transportation issues, and she marches to her own drummer and really is not particularly influenced by voters in her district on this issue. She has not had a credible primary challenger…ever? Certainly not that I can remember.

  7. Unless you are just hell-bent on generally screwing anybody from Seattle and being reflexively opposed to anything they’re “for”, why would a state senator from Ritzville give a rat’s ass about how Seattle and its suburbs spends their OWN money? It’s crazy that a person from so far out in podunk-ness even has a means to mess with our interests. I doubt it’s even philosophical, it’s just stick poking.

    1. If it was our own money, it would be Seattle Transit, not Sound Transit. And that’s what we should have, a Seattle-funded, Seattle-operated transit agency. That way, the system might actually benefit the large number of people in Seattle who have been abandoned by this blog, by Seattle Subway, and for whom ST3 does NOTHING.

      1. Citation needed. ST3 is a necessary prerequisite for the bus network shown in Metro’s and the city’s long-term plans, which would improve bus service for essentially everyone in the city.

      2. Did I only dream that ST3 includes light rail from the West Seattle (Alaska) Junction to downtown, and from Ballard to downtown, via a desperately-needed station in South Lake Union?

    2. Legislators from places >100 miles from Seattle have a very long history of being actively hostile to Seattle’s wishes. Loud hostility to Seattle is great politics in a lot of places.

      Municipalities derive all of their powers from state law, so the state legislature is always going to be the most powerful player in any local issue.

      1. People who live in the state have a right to influence decisions made elsewhere in their state.

        The progressive majority in the Washington legislature often pushes progressive policies upon conservative counties.

        Seattle an economic engine of the entire state, so the rest of the state cares deeply about what happens here.

        I see no difference between east Washington conservatives meddling in the Puget Sound and Puget Sounders meddling in eastern Washington – it’s the same state, y’all!

      2. I’d be less annoyed at the lege if it were actually willing to fund transit in more than token tiny grants, while the federal government has helped out in much larger ways.

        The local tax bill wouldn’t be so large for transit if the funding came from statewide support.

      3. Thanks for bringing this up, David and AJ, because condition you both mention has potential to do a huge amount of damage to everyplace in our State. Whole purpose of a State is to work out agreements so that people in every part benefits generated in the rest.

        Hate term “Zero Sum Game”, but like its realities even less. Once mentality takes hold that what anybody gains someone else has to lose- whatever divisions we have now will re-divide themselves ’til the whole place is a pile of crumbs.

        However rich the right wing voters and their representatives, the further outstate from Seattle, the poorer the majority of their people. And the more the younger, energetic, and ambitious just leave. In turn leaving smaller and meaner populations electing candidates opposite to the ones who fled would have put in office.

        Since pro-transit areas have more money, we’ve got the advantage and should use it. And if effort is spearheaded by the refugees I just mentioned- we really should “vet” them for willingness to help liberate their homeland- nobody back there can claim they’re being ruled by outsiders.

        Incidentally, I think our politics would work better if words “conservative” and “liberal” (who’ll stop losing elections when they stop saying “progressive” to turn those terms from nouns back into adjectives.

        Concentrate on the details of the work at hand. Like what each side of the ST boundaries can do for the other one. Whether governing boards are elected or appointed, Rules of Order should give Robert a wrench, a pliers, and whatever program used to be a slide rule.


      4. Sound Transit is not a progressive policy imposed on conservative Eastern Washington counties. It’s a regional tax district where people can vote for their own services.

      5. I have a fondness for and family history in Eastern Washington, so this is not sour grapes at all. I find Spokane, for example, an eminently livable and pleasant place. However, I am rarely if ever over there without hearing how much “Seattle” (by which is meant the entire metro area, not just the city) takes things from Eastern WA–that “Seattle” always gets everything and leaves Eastern WA to take the scraps. I assume this is a similar sentiment in SW Washington. I’ve even heard this from a WSDOT staffer in Spokane. This is a messaging issue. No county in Eastern WA (with the possible exception of Whitman) pays more in taxes than they receive from the state–and in more than one case it is on the order of pay $1, get $3 back. Contrast this to several of the Puget Sound counties, King being notable, where we actually do pay more than we receive back.

        Progressives/Democrats/whatever need to be making this point along with the more obvious one about the fact that we should be able to tax ourselves, if we choose, for things that we want. If the Tri-Cities wants to tax locally for and build parking garages all over the area (for example), let them knock themselves out. It doesn’t affect my pocketbook. Likewise, someone from Mabton or Wauconda should have no say as to whether or not we want to pay for a subway here. When the state does the right thing and starts funding transit as Oregon does, then they can have a say about it.

        Make it clear that as part of the political contract they benefit from our largesse, and that we would appreciate the courtesy of being able to set and pay for our own local policies from them and their representatives in return. I have no issue whatsoever in helping parts of the state that can’t even afford basic services to do so. I do have an issue when in return we aren’t allowed our own choices.

  8. Thanks Zach for your comments and pointedness on the Comments Policy. Commenters: Let’s not have a repeat of Sam and dp issues, please. Moderation by the board and considerate self-moderation by each of us will often throw more light than useless heat on subjects.

  9. Who is on the Sound Transit board now? Aren’t they all elected officials in other capacities?

    1. Yes, and SSB 5001 would ban anyone serving in another elected office from serving simultaneously on the ST Board. The bill not only aims to stack the board with some weird self-contradicting instructions for how to gerrymander the board districts, but also to make the board more amateurish. Did we mention the part about the $10,000 annual salary? Surely, that will encourage the best and brightest to apply.

      1. Yeah, I honest expect either NIMBYS to take up the board if they got their way. It adds another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy to ST that we don’t need.

      2. Yep–so we would go from people with political and process knowledge who can only deal with transit issues part-time because it is only part of their jobs, to part-timers by definition ($10,000/year will do that for you) who either have the means or the time to serve on such a board but likely with no expertise, institutional knowledge, or political chops. I’d venture to guess that would be very few people like us, whatever our viewpoints on transit.

        You would assuredly get a large percentage who are either wealthy and/or retired, which self-selects to skewing the board towards non-transit users, likely white and male just due to demographics of that age and income level. This screams NIMBY.

        This bill would be a disaster. We are a representative democracy and a metro area of 4 million people, not a New Hampshire town hall where everybody can have an input.

  10. Kudos go to Sen. Chase, who was quite critical of ST3 before the election, and is following how her constituents voted. — graciousness in defeat —

  11. Glad we get local transit dictated to us by some nobody from Ritzville.

    Our own mini DC in this Washington.

  12. Whether or not ST should have an elected board is irrelevant. Even if it should, that board should not:

    1) be forcibly gerrymandered by state law (no more than 5 districts entirely in one county);
    2) be paid only a part time salary ($10,000 per year);
    3) consist of “non-partisan” offices, so that anti-transit, anti-government conservatives can more easily get elected in Democratic areas;
    4) hold odd-year elections, when turn-out is lower; and
    5) include only 11 members, making the districts larger and the elections more dependent on large campaign contributions.

    Whether or not any of us support elected transit boards overall, we should be able to agree that this is a bad bill.

    1. The most troubling part about this bill isn’t the idea of an elected board. Agreed. I don’t think the R’s spearheading this effort care about democracy, fairness, or justice — they just want to create a weapon, regardless, that they can use to slay ST3 with. A direct approach would never work, so they’re trying to be clever about it, and unfortunately some D’s have been duped by their phony sincerity.

  13. Anyone old enough to remember working for the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle, you might want to weigh in now. Because I think transit management by these two agencies is an excellent example for differences between elected versus appointed management.

    For what it’s worth, my own “take” is that if the one had paid its politics the attention they deserved, the work would not have changed hands. But current negative campaign arguments smell like the shelves of a pathetically bad Goodwill imitator. Meaning this one requires a lot of attention.

    And a Democratic Governor who won’t sign the kind of legislation that inflicted Tim Eyman on our State. After the State Supreme Court said his car-tab initiative was Unconstitutional. But I also think that if we want to avoid repeat, it’s time for Seattle to start creating some allies and sympathizers outside ST borders.

    Including by expanding ST borders. Current legislators still represent a minority of the State’s population, living in places and circumstances which created the attitudes that make them tell their reps to kill us.

    Because we’ve got both the money and the generosity to deliver the better life that their own representatives can’t. For instance, their first income worth of the name since the last saw mill folded.

    Maybe social media has made this more obsolete than radios with vacuum tubes, but have we got a Radio Free Seattle?


  14. I emailed my senator Jeannie Darneille expressing my disappointment in her vote for it. Also sent copies to my 2 representatives as well. smh

  15. Here is a follow-up response I just got from Sen. Jamie Pedersen:

    “Just a quick follow-up – I spoke with Rep. Clibborn (House Transportation Chair) and she assures me that the bill is dead. Best, Jamie”

    Good news for us.

  16. This sounds like a dumb idea. Personally, I’d prefer to have career minded bureaucrats study, plan, and engineer transit solutions, then we vote on whether or not we want to build a particular option (same for highways and anything involving public funds), the vote approving or disapproving serving as the oversight.

  17. Yes, the Sound Transit board should be elected by the voters, just like port commissions and school boards. We all know how responsive and accountable those bodies are.

  18. I just don’t think things could get any worse for Seattle. Let’s review what ST has delivered:

    Chose wrong technology (LRT instead of heavy rail)

    Allowed Tukwila to bully them into a lower ridership alignment


    HORRIBLE ped/bus integration at Mt. Baker, UW, SODO, Stadium

    Extended the middle finger to TWO URBAN VILLAGES (Corridor D) to bring rail to the bustling Interbay neighborhood

    I’d say the track record, for Seattle, is objectively very, very bad. So tell me again why, from a Seattle perspective, this dumpster fire is worth extinguishing? Seattle is just not being set up for the bright transit future it deserves.

    1. So, setting up the ST Board with a bunch of transit opponents to scuttle ST2 and ST3 will somehow cause a couple more stations to appear on U-Link, modal transfers to improve, light rail to tunnel under Queen Anne for a low-ridership station (since Queen Anne remains averse to allowing more renters or more transit), and the trains to suddenly change to heavy rail.

      I don’t think so.

      Interbay, being the tabula rasa that it is, could end up being a lot more dense urban center in time than suburban Queen Anne Hill.


      Funny, that two-station segment led to a 66% increase in Link ridership, and is clearly better than the 71/72/73X which was the highest-ridership corridor in Metro, and gives a new “43 express” (downton – Broadway – UW) which has never existed but instantly became very popular due to pent-up demand. It’s not as good as a line with stations also at Bellevue, 15th, and 23rd but it’s not bad either.

      “Extended the middle finger to TWO URBAN VILLAGES (Corridor D) to bring rail to the bustling Interbay neighborhood”

      That alignment is much less expensive than a Queen Anne tunnel with a tremendously-deep station under upper Queen Anne. ST does not have unlimited money. That savings is what contributed to DSTT2, the SLU station, and the West Seattle line, whatever you think of them. It’s a compromise between various stakeholders and voters, which is how you get measures passed.

      “Chose wrong technology (LRT instead of heavy rail)”

      Of course there are things that are less than ideal. But you can’t make the political environment and compromises go away, nor can you retroactively create a Walkeresque ST board in the 1990s. The important thing is to keep going forward with something better than the status quo, otherwise we’ll be riding substandard Metro and ST Express routes forever with inadequate frequency and wasting time that accumulates over years, and the service will gradually degrade as the population increases.

      You can point to flaws in ST3 and long-term flaws in ST’s past decisions, but none of them lead to “very, very bad” and “can’t get worse” and (I assume) “utterly useless and worthless”.

      1. “The important thing is to keep going forward with something better than the status quo”

        Frankly that bar is just too low and, as I mentioned, not delivered the kinds of projects that Seattle needs to be a world-class city. I guess it comes down to this: do you believe in accountability, and if yes, how do you intend to hold ST accountable for the astonishing lack of vision, poor route planning, and general inability to connect Seattle’s neighborhoods with fast, reliable, subway service? Because that is their job, and they aren’t doing it very well.

        “Funny, that two-station segment led to a 66% increase in Link ridership”

        Yes, when you go from 2 to 4, you’ve grown by 100%!!! When holding institutions and people accountable, it’s much more useful to compare what’s been delivered to objective standards. The downtown Bellevue Station will be amazing, right??? It’ll add soooo many new riders! Except that route could be adding thousands more by running under Bellevue Way and serving the actual retail core of downtown Bellevue. But it is not. Regardless of the opposition they faced, that is ST’s fault. UW Station is ST’s fault – not UW’s.

        “That alignment is much less expensive than a Queen Anne tunnel with a tremendously-deep station under upper Queen Anne”

        Yes, more expensive, and as the blog described it, game changing for Seattle. Corridor D is what Seattle needs, Mike, not light rail to Interbay. We need connected neighborhoods, with fast rail to our urban villages. Avoiding dense population centers for tabulae rasa makes zero sense, and would have been worth every penny and every year spent waiting for it.

        If given the chance, ST will make a suboptimal investment in Seattle 4 out of 5 times. Something has to change because what they are delivering – with some exceptions – is not what any sane person would describe as excellent projects. I get the tradeoffs, I really do. But it might worth it for Seattle to go it alone.

    3. “HORRIBLE ped/bus integration at Mt. Baker, UW, SODO, Stadium”

      The integration at Mt Baker and UW Station is due to the UW. The UW owns a laundry facility next to Mt Baker station that ST wanted to put the transit center at, but the UW said it wouldn’t move and because it’s a state facility its word goes.

      As for bad integration at SODO and Stadium, I don’t know what you mean. What would be better integration?

  19. ALL: Listen I took a 25-hour hiatus from STB commenting. I feel like a) I was about to deeply violate STB Comment Policy, a set of policies that multiple Sound Transit Boardmembers & staffers tell me makes them feel very happy and b) Frankly my heart broke at all of the negative feedback to my support of SB 5001. I had heartache so bad I had to lay down.

    That said, I “get it” that SB 5001 is about the worst way to make transit boards elected so transit advocates can run. I “get it” that an elected ST Board would have to worry more about election cycles and less about strategic planning so maybe instead of unveiling a new line at once each line would have to creep along. I “get it” the salary stank to a point where we would have had evening meetings (and ST pay a ton of staff overtime + childcare costing ST money) OR paid pundits (e.g. TCC employees, Washington Policy Center, radio talk show hosts) also be ST Boardmembers OR worse (like that troll Seattle Mayor Candidate that shalt not be named or retired NIMBYs). I also “get it” this was to pick on Sound Transit, which you know where I stand on that one.

    I hope it was and is clear my intention is to get guys like us regular commentators on transit boards so we can kick things up a notch. I want smart advocates actively dialoguing with one another & transit staffs to build the best system. If there was a better option than SB 5001, I’d take it.

    I just hope SB 5001 forces a dialogue and is a rude wake-up call to… wait for it… the rank & file membership of the Washington State Transit Association. We’re tired of being told to sit down, shut up, trust us, and take what we give you. My support of SB 5001 and political alliance with WPC is in no small part my very public rejection of that approach of transit staffs – especially north of Everett ;-).

    Oh and ST Star Board Member Rob Johnson, uh dude you won’t be able to be on the ST Board year after year and I want you elected to the ST Board for like consecutive terms so you get 16 years on it… I supported ST3, I had some misgivings but I fell into the O line. But I want ST staff to quit being addicted to process and BUILD THE WAVE.

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