Crowded Link Train in August 2016 (Flickr – SounderBruce)

By Marilyn Strickland and Rob Johnson

Sound Transit’s current governance framework – based on the appointment of elected officials from county and city governments who have huge stakes in making regional transit work – is a huge part of the agency’s success. Unfortunately, this framework is currently under threat; the proposed SB-5001 would replace these structural incentives for success and unity with representatives from 11 Balkanized districts chosen through direct elections.

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland
Seattle City Councilmember Rob Johnson (District 4)

We believe it’s critically important to have locally elected representatives serving on the Sound Transit Board. There is a nexus between local government, regional government, and having a regional transportation system that benefits all of us, from Tacoma to Everett.

This level of connectivity and regional integration ultimately ensures we get projects that are built faster, cheaper, and that benefit not just the districts we represent, but the entire region. And that’s not only good governance, it just makes sense.

Here are eight reasons the governance structure for Sound Transit proposed in SB-5001 would hurt regional progress toward achieving a 116-mile light rail system that reaches Tacoma, Everett, Downtown Redmond, West Seattle, Ballard, South Kirkland and Issaquah:

  1. As elected officials serving on the Sound Transit board, we hold a body of knowledge that allows us to make transit decisions with the awareness of how it impacts land use, housing, and economic development. These big transit investments we make involve so much more than just moving people from point A to point B; we need board members with comprehensive knowledge and the new proposed governance structure puts this at risk.
  1. The new structure would likely result in higher costs for taxpayers. For example, Sound Transit has a track record of obtaining highly rated bonds with low interest rates. Bond rating agencies look at stability of revenues and stability of leadership. Moving away from our current structure of elected officials with finite terms and extensive knowledge would put us at risk for receiving lower rated bonds – the burden of which would be felt by taxpayers.
  1. As elected officials, we are good partners with Sound Transit and we pave the way for projects to happen more quickly. For example, we are able to have the necessary conversations at the city level to expedite permitting processes. By removing elected officials from the board, the proposed governance structure would likely result in projects that are built more slowly, and thus, at higher cost.
  1. Sound Transit has passed 22 consecutive clean audits. Having locally elected representation with accountability to our voters plays a big role in this impressive track record; changing the governance structure puts that at risk.
  1. As with all projects, big or small, sometimes things don’t go the way they should. The ability for a mayor serving as a board member from one jurisdiction to speak to his or her counterpart in another jurisdiction gives us the ability to address issues more quickly and keep projects closer to schedule. The proposed governance structure would hinder this effectiveness.
  1. Utilizing the professional expertise of in-house city staff helps us as elected officials make better, more informed decisions as Sound Transit board members. This would be lost with the new governance structure.
  1. As elected officials, we are regional colleagues and bring these good working relationships to the Sound Transit boardroom. The new governance structure would negatively impact the current camaraderie and institutional knowledge that facilitates efficiency.
  1. Lastly, and very simply put, changing the governance structure in the middle of very complex projects that are underway creates a high degree of instability and risk.

A hallmark of local government is our ability to be close to our constituents and respond accordingly with more and better infrastructure. Last year, as plans for ST3 were getting finalized, the message we heard from constituents loud and clear was “do more – and do it faster.” We’ve proven time and again that we can deliver on those requests, and to get people out of traffic and connected to their communities.

Marilyn Strickland is the current Mayor of Tacoma. Rob Johnson is the Seattle City Councilmember for District 4. Both are Sound Transit Board members. 

49 Replies to “Sound Transit’s Governance is Key to Its Success”

  1. I already got a direct response from my representative about this bill. He’s one of the 4 democrats who voted yes to move this forward. Here is a quote from him (Guy Palumbo) and most of his response:

    “I voted for the bill because I believe that any organization that manages $54 billion in tax dollars should be directly elected and accountable for that purpose. For me, this is a good government issue. It has nothing to do with supporting GOP efforts to undermine ST3.

    There are problems with the bill that I would try to amend should it ever come back from the House – which is unlikely. One example is the $10,000 salary for the elected members. This should be a full-time, paid elected position so that we can attract people with expertise in transit.

    Regarding the car valuation issue, I agree that it needs to be fixed moving forward. There is another GOP bill which would make that change retroactively and would rob the current ST3 package from revenue needed to pay for the voter approved projects. I don’t support that bill.

    I fully support large investments in infrastructure of all kinds. We have so much work to do, over and above what we have done with the Connecting Washington package and ST3, and I am actively working to find ways to continue to strengthen public transit throughout the Puget Sound.”

    Overall he seems to get that ST3 is good, but he has this false sense of politicians making things more successful. Even when it’s not a full time job, he assumes they will somehow have a bigger stake in ST if they are elected directly. This is the part that I disagree with him on because there’s zero evidence that that is really the case. The money that ST manages has already been allocated. When I contacted him I asked him if he thought there were any mistakes that ST has made that shows they are incapable of managing their resources, he never answered that part.

    1. Wow. Just try to imagine 11 full-time board members added to the executive suite at ST. Each one of them trying to find/make enough work to justify the salaries that Sen. Palumbo wants to pay them. And he thinks that will lead to better decision-making and more accountability?

      1. All one has to do is look at the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors for a hyper-local example of why a full time elected board is a terrible idea.

      2. About the school board… that’s a very good example of Seattle elected officials. Not all, if any, school boards/districts are so poorly ran. Seattle has plenty of examples and a long history (up through the present) of people Seattle elects who are absolute duds.

  2. Another way to look at this: the Port of Seattle is elected directly by “balkanized” districts. Are there any arguments that this has improved Port operations compared with areas that don’t do this? I doubt most people pay too much attention in those races and just “guess” who do to vote for.

    1. Pretend the Port was transit. Only a few people care deeply about operational details and network design — that’s us — and have strong opinions about the candidates’ entire biographies. Most people just generally want the port to succeed, not get in their way, not charge too much taxes, or they’re a stakeholder with a specific interest (shipper, airline, ferry rider, etc). I care a lot about transit details and a lot about the candidates. But the port, all I know is what the Stranger and Weekly and Times say, and who’s “The Environmentalist” and “The Industry Shill” and “The Governor’s Daughter”. So that’s what I vote on. Or if I don’t feel I know enough to make a good decision, I leave the question blank. (I used to choose a random name instead, but then realized that’s dangerous.)

      If we have an elected transit board, most people will make analogous decisions: they’ll choose at random, whoever The Stranger recommends, whoever says the most about freeway congestion and bigger P&Rs, whoever promises to reverse the MVET and gut ST3, or they’ll just leave the question blank. Is that the people we want on the ST board, people who have gotten there that way? Or as Johnson and Strickland said, do we want people who have responsibility for their entire cities’ well-being and understand how any transit option impacts people’s entire experience in the subarea, and can expedite permits and coordinate other projects with it? I prefer the latter.

      The only two issues I can cite with the current and recent boards – and these are not reasons to change the structure — are (1) the longstanding wish that the board would be more urban-minded (more Seattle lines and stations), and (2) wondering how well are the cities without boardmembers are being represented by their nearest boardmember. I don’t know that there’s any lack of representation, but it’s always worth asking and making sure. And that could be part of what’s motivating the proponents of elected boards: the belief that their cities will get more representation.

      1. Mike,

        Thank you. The nub of your argument is contained in

        “or they’re a stakeholder with a specific interest (shipper, airline, ferry rider, etc)”

        For an agency like Sound Transit which is spending billions of dollars on construction and reshaping the urban form what you’ll get is a bunch of puppets for concrete and steel manufacturers, a couple of union representatives from Seattle, ideological loons who hate transit, apartments and Democrats from the fringes (both kinds), and auto dealers. Oh so many auto dealers.

        You won’t get any of the “transit activists” of which one of our favorite commenters so charmingly dreams.

      2. Another thing some people vote for: somebody who mentions a bus route or potential light rail line in their neighborhood. Never mind all the other neighborhoods.

      3. Yup, one reason why I want to vote me onto the Skagit Transit Board… tired of seeing more politically powerful areas up here get stuff and then my area is told wait for grants. After today, it’s full on political W-A-R bro.

        As far as Sound Transit goes, maybe we can explain this thing called “transfer” from a KC Metro or CT or Pierce Transit bus to sexy light rail.

    2. Transit boards are not the same as port boards.

      First, citizens are directly affected by transit on a daily basis and are much more likely to take an interested..

      Second, balkanization doesn’t occur because long-distance transit operators are by definition serving trips that often end in two different districts. Bad escalators at UW Station affects constituents rom all over the region, for example. Actually, this point contributes to a problem with our current board culture; board members usually don’t want to challenge any decisions made in other jurisdictions; the board is de facto “balkanized” already.

      Rather than compare an ST board to the Port, it should be compared to peer transit agencies with elected boards like AC Transit and BART.

  3. Valid points, even if there is a whiff of FUD to this piece. Something that is missing that makes this also come off as a bit tone deaf, is the tried and true rhetorical tactic where the author acknowledges and then seeks to overcome some elements of the opposition’s case. Simply listing reasons why something is a bad idea is a fairly weak form of argument and not very persuasive.

    1. Well, it was written for an STB audience. And I don’t see any FUD. And other people (Feb 2016) have tried to (Nov 2016) acknowledge and rebut (March 2017) the opposition’s claims in their own way. This argument would appeal to those who are undecided but are neutral to or leaning against the elected-board position, which is most of the STB audience. Another kind of argument would appeal to those who are leaning toward an elected board, and it may have to be written by somebody else who can better articulate it. Or it may be impossible to change those people’s minds no matter what you say.

  4. I went to Sharon Tomiko Santos’ Town Hall last Saturday to hear what she had to say about supporting elections for the ST Board. I thought she had some legitimate concerns. She thought the ST Board was too similar to some Municipal Council that was ruled unconstitutional in the 90s.

    Her concerns were particularly aroused when some of her constituents told her that they tried to contact the ST Board with their concerns about stations and such and found the board entirely unresponsive. She and Bob Hasegawa then tried to go to the ST Board themselves and again found the Board unresponsive.

    I have no idea of the validity of these claims, but it sounds like it might be a good time to have a discussion. I think the authors of this article make equally strong claims about why the ST Board works in its present form.

    I think that there is fertile ground for a discussion to make the ST Board better and more responsive and serve all users. Would it be worthwhile to have a couple of board members elected to the board along with representatives from other municipality governments? Who could make such a conversation happen? It would be nice if it were taped and public.

    1. Greg, this is a great point. It seems like the board is more beholden to cities than taxpayers. They solicit all kinds of input from cities because they are viewed as the main stakeholders – not transit riders. And when ST does solicit input from us, like with the Ballard Transit Study, they ignore the results (overwhelming preference for Corridor D) and do what they want to do, while never revealing why certain routes are chosen. Doesn’t seem like ST is the responsive transit agency we deserve.

      1. The board meetings are already public so I don’t know that there’s much more deliberation to reveal. The board decisions are a straightforward application of the vision it articulated in several long-range plans, and it rarely deviates from them. Some of the more specific tradeoff deliberations occur at staff level and it’s harder to get at those: they mostly surface in staff reports and the board mostly follows the staffs’ recommendations. I’m not sure getting more of that is realistic to expect.

        The main issue here is whether cities should have the highest-priority influence like they do, or whether the undifferentiated mass of subarea residents should have top priority instead. There are good arguments both ways on that, and it’s worth discussing more. One thing to be concerned about is that “making the public top dog” could turn into listening to just the few activists with parochial interests who make the most noise.

      2. Mike;

        I want to hear some very loud, very firm debate points exchanged. I want to hear some tough questions thrown at staff. These ST Board meetings aren’t as lively as the Skagit Transit Board workshop I was at last December where political cards were put on the table.


      3. Or the Ballard to UW line, which beat Ballard to downtown through Interbay in ST’s own poll

    2. It’s certainly worth considering one or two elected “Public Representatives”, or even one per subarea. Another question is whether they should have the power to vote, or would just be observers. And there’s the perennial question of splitting the tax district so each subarea could have a different tax rate and elections. (Now that the biggest multi-subarea projects are approved, the subareas’ interests and size appetites will increasingly diverge.) And maybe there are other ways to improve ST. But switching to an all-elected district-based board does not directly do these, and is more a hatchet job on the whole thing with who knows what unintended consequences.

    3. Greg,

      Her actual concern is all about free parking passes in RPZ zones. This is where the Save our Valley neighborhood gadfly’s shifted focus when they weren’t able to block light rail completely.

      There is no evidence of a real problem that she’s trying to address.

      Hoping she is primaried.
      Phone calls to her office are ignored.

      1. Thanks for the insider political info.

        That said, I think ST is going to have to spend more money on public outreach. It looks like they have feedback links set up on their website, but everyone knows that it is nice to get slightly personalized responses to concerns.

        This is a key time for ST to get the PR right. Peter Rogoff has said that he knows now is the time there will be buyers remorse, and we are feeling that. We who support transit need to be clear and positive in our response to concerns.

    4. I too have sent one reasonable and short comment to the ST board. I only got one response and that was from a member in Pierce County who merely said that they have received my comment; no Seattle or King County (my elected reps) responded. There also was no response from any staff saying that they even saw my comments.. I had no idea if my comment ever reached anyone. It was like it went into each person’s garbage can.

      Ironically, my issue was about signage and it was solved when U-Link opened and signage changed. Someone could have said that the issue was being addressed and wait six months — but no one at ST took the time to read my comment and respond to me.

      The argument here that “elected boards are a bad idea” doesn’t solve this core problem. Instead, it requires a different attitude about how elected officials communicate with citizens period.

      Our key elected officials need to implement a better way of communicating with citizens about ST. Unless current elected officials change this attitude, things like term limits and elected boards are going to keep arising as solutions out of frustration. Our current elected officials approach to citizens is creating this unresponsiveness frustration; they need to admit that they are to blame and will change.

      So the current board members need to be made very aware that their voters are frustrated and they lose votes by this behavior. And if they don’t have the time to do their ST board jobs, then the only solution is an elected board.

  5. Anyone think they can argue an appointive board with such extensive governmental powers complies with what the 14th Amendment demands in terms of voters rights? No local body with anything like the policy-making authority of the RTA ever has been upheld as against a claim that Americans have a right to vote for and against the boardmembers.

    1. Fortunately, all the representatives on the board are actually elected to positions that get them ex officio seats.

      1. An “ex officio” board member is one who is part of said board by virtue of holding another office. Only three of the eighteen are “ex officio” — the three county execs. The rest are appointed.

      2. Even the county executives have to be appointed– by themselves. The only ST board member serving ex officio is the Sec. of Transportation.

    2. All of the current ST board of directors, except one (WSDOT secretary), are locally elected officials, whose elected positions include “sitting on the ST Board of Directors” as one of the responsibilities of that position. I’d say that’s pretty in compliance with the 14th Amendment. It’s not like the board is filled with non-elected cronies.

      1. ??
        Take R. Johnson and M. Strickland. Neither of their elected positions involves “sitting on the ST Board of Directors.” Both were appointed because the county execs wanted them on the RTA board, not because they had been elected by people to be a council member or mayor.

      2. RCW 81.112.040 lays out the composition of the ST board. No elected official is automatically part of the board.

        Other than the Secretary of Transportation they must be an elected official of a city within the ST district, or a county council member with at least 50 percent of their district’s population in the ST district or the county executive. There also has to be at least one board member from the county’s largest city, and one board member who represents unincorporated areas (within the ST district). Last, at least half of the electeds from each county must serve on the board of a public transportation system.

        While the county executives appoint the board members from their county, they are not required to serve on the board. Although at least for Pierce and Snohomish counties they have fulfilled the requirement to have a board member who represents unincorporated areas.

      3. If the structure is unconstitutional, why hasn’t anyone sued ST yet? Why isn’t anyone starting a lawsuit now? You don’t need new laws if existing laws are being violated. But if they are being violated, and the state created ST and gave it its current structure, how could legislators overlook it for so many years term after term? Why is this being done as a “we want an elected board for our own reasons” rather than “we must correct an unconstitutional situation” like school funding. Oh wait, they’re not racing to fix school funding.

      4. The old Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle existed for over 30 years before it got sued in 1990 and its council was ruled unconstitutional. The law enabling ST took effect in 1992. Surely the legislature looked carefully at the Metro case and drafted a law that would be constitutional.

      5. Oran and Mike:

        This issue was discussed in a lawyers’ forum and nobody had a good explanation. The lawyers who drafted the bill that became ch. 81.112 in 1992 were with the firm Preston Gates and Ellison and they refused to address the issue on “attorney/client privilege” grounds. Do either of you know any lawyers? See if they are willing to explain. Mike’s question of “why hasn’t anyone sued” is answered by Oran’s observation that the predecessor existed for 30 years here and nobody sued — the same reasons for that extended period pertain w/r/t the RTA.

      6. The New York City Board of Estimate and the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle were both had a significant number of their members (at least de facto) who became members ex officio as result of having been elected to another office. As such, the courts ruled that they needed to comply with one person one vote principle implicit in the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. In each case, the courts further ruled that the apportionment of votes failed to do this.

        The New York City Board of Estimate decision (which was somewhat clearer cut — all the members were directly elected as a matter of law, and the size of their districts were wildly inconsistent in size) came down from the Supreme Court in March 1989. The Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle was ruled unconstitutional less than 18 months later.

        The ST board is entirely appointed — it has only one ex officio member, and that member is (1) an appointed state official and (2) has limited voting authority. As such the line of reasoning used in those two cases fails. I am aware of no precedent that prevents appointed boards, nor do I believe that ST is particularly unique when compared with some of the Federal level independent agencies. I suspect that the lack of any taxing authority of its own — it has to get voters to grant it taxes, and is constrained (somewhat) in how it spends the resulting revenue by the wording of the authorizing ballot — makes it even harder to suggest that it needs to be elected.

      7. William:

        The three county executives are not appointed to the RTA board. They are instead “ex officio” boardmembers because they automatically serve as ST boardmembers once voted in to their real jobs, per RCW 81.112.040(1)(c). The DOT secretary or that person’s designee is to be a non-voting board member unless the rest of the board decides otherwise, so the person sitting in that RTA board seat may or may not be there “ex officio” but in either case he or she won’t be an elected official.

        The “line of reasoning” in the two opinions you cite wouldn’t have any bearing on whether the RTA’s board structure violates the 14th Amendment. That “line” applies to municipalities that are a majority directly-elected (like Metro of Muni Seattle, and the Bd. of Estimate in NYC). A different legal limit the 14th Amendment exists to protect — the right to vote for and against local government policy makers — is implicated because the RTA has an appointive board. “Federal agencies” aren’t creatures of state law, so your analogy to them isn’t relevant (or helpful).

        Moreover, the RTA has unlimited amounts of “taxing authority” via the enabling legislation, and voters have no right to “grant” taxing powers to the RTA — only the state legislature can do that (voters only can approve or not approve “system plans” that are put on ballots).

        Do you know any lawyers? Ask them if they might be willing to help you formulate a follow-up post on this topic.

      8. @Whiskey Tango: RCW 81.112.040(1)(c doesn’t say what you think it does, it merely lists county executives as eligible to serve on the board. Actually getting on to the board requires that the county executive appoint themselves and the county legislative body confirm the appointment.

        I am perfectly well aware that the two cited opinions don’t tell us anything about ST (and said as much above). As I said above, I am aware of no legal precedents that suggest any constitutional or other right to having local government exclusively elected. Can you cite even a single court decision to suggest that such precedents? As I pointed out above, there clearly isn’t such a right at a Federal level. At the State level the rulemaking authority of the state DOT, the state department of Ecology, the State department of Labor and so on suggests that there isn’t such a right at a State level. Even at the local level, ST is unique only in its scale: the State has dozens of local boards with administrative powers.

        With respect to taxation, I spoke insufficiently carefully. All I was attempting was to point out that the general principle that taxation requires consent is clearly met because ST is unable to impose taxes without their first being authorized by the district’s voters. [It would also be met if the board were elected, but that’s beside the point, since the board is appointed].

  6. Here are eight reasons the governance structure for Sound Transit proposed in SB-5001 would hurt regional progress toward achieving a 116-mile light rail system that reaches Tacoma, Everett, Downtown Redmond, West Seattle, Ballard, South Kirkland and Issaquah

    Oh – in that case, I suppose electing the board is a very good thing that we should all try to bring about as soon as possible!

    (No, unfortunately, I think an elected board would only accelerate us toward an even more sprawling, near-useless, slower-than-buses system.)

  7. At an extremely critical point in the Downtown Seattle Transit Project, which included the DSTT, I watched the political fight over the governance of Metro Transit completely distract the attention of decision-makers.

    To the point where it cost the project serious and lasting damage. So to me, discussion of the change in question stops right now, until ST-3 is completed. But in return, the Sound Transit Board itself has to make considerably more effort to speak with, and listen to, all of its constituents.

    Starting with staffing public meetings with engineers, technicians and operations people. Present reliance on convention staff alone is an expensive insult to attendees. Who contribute their own unbillable time to the work by their presence. A straight answer decides a lot of votes.

    But in returen, our duty as citizens obliges us voters to stay in formed and attentive to the technical details of transit, construction and operation. Especially those of us in skilled trades and professions like civil engineering. We’re not the audience here.

    Mark Dublin

  8. When the feds put something up for public comment in the federal register, they address major dissents/ concerns raised by others when a final rule is issued. It would have been nice if ST had officially explained/stated something about why the 8 subway, West side bus tunnel, and Ballard to UW were not chosen as projects. It might have dampened some (but not all) of the torches lit for this bill.

    1. The torches for this bill were ignited by millions of dollars from people who profit from sprawl and auto sales. Dino [Rossi] [ad hom], knows nothing and cares less about the Metro 8 Subway or “Ballard-UW”. He cares about one and only one thing: screwing urban voters in any way he can for not making him governor.

  9. But also: I think correct term is “Events” staff. Whom I certainly don’t intend to insult with their profession. The main thrust of my point is that it’s not fair to them to face very pointed and often impolite questions on absolutely critical details.

    Resulting in the questioner coming away feeling patronized-often a lot more powerful vote-loser than the question of money. So a really important question on subject of governance: Which form is better suited to communicate with its constituents on project details on specifics.

    Whichever side uses fewest colored lines and dots to present any transit project to the people, wins. Unless transitway pavement, gravel ballast, and station roofs and plazas actually are pink or green. Granite actually ranges from brown-gray to pink.


  10. If the current board members better represented the areas and subareas, I wouldn’t have much problem with the current way things are organized. However, this is just not the case, and it seems most of the members focused more for what the ST package(s) could bring to their specific city.

    We should have representation for each subarea and major population center. For example, on the east-side no one stepped up at all to represent anyone whatsoever south of i90. So what did we end up with after Bellevue, Issaquah, and Kirkland took almost 90% of the so-called subarea funding? Scraps. And these scraps wouldn’t have even given us more options to overcome the traffic fiasco that happened on i405 yesterday morning.

    So, if the current board fails in representing the every person that pays into this monster (whether said taxpayer supported ST or not), then out they go–no second chances.

    1. It’s not just that ST ignored the area. ST’s studies showed the least ridership between Bellevue and Renton. That’s why no attention has been given to Bellevue-Renton Link. 405 BRT is in some ways a pilot project and test case to try to build up that ridership. The city of Renton also never articulated what it wanted in ST3; it waited until the final draft and said “Hey, you’re hot doing enough for us,” implicitly putting it on ST to figure out what that should have been. Does Renton have a transit master plan like Bellevue, Seattle, and Marysville do? That’s completely under city control and a way to express its priorities and preferences.

    2. You’re obviously new to the area.

      Renton wasn’t ignored. Renton never showed any interest in anything non-automotive.

      They hated the railroad tracks going through their city, and fought against any use of the ERC for passenger rail (light, commuter, or otherwise).

      So what do they have now? 737 fuselages that used to come down via the Snohomish and Maltby on upgraded trackage… still right through the city.

      I have no sympathy for Renton.

      1. Nope, not new. And who said anything about Renton?

        Someone please explain how this supposed i405 BRT thingy would have been an improvement for my commute yesterday? All I see is the real spoils of ST packages going to the places which have representation on the board. Those needing to use i405 south of i90 (no matter where they are coming from) are still paying for this.

        Hence, I submit better representation is needed.

      2. The city of Renton has been very clear they want to shift their Transit Center to be adjacent to 405 and to funnel bus routes accordingly. ST listens very closely to their constituent cities. If you object to what Renton has negotiated for in ST2 and ST3, your beef should be primarily with Renton’s city council & city staff, not ST.

      3. “For example, on the east-side no one stepped up at all to represent anyone whatsoever south of i90.”

        That’s a good question, who would have been the representative municipality to have suggested the alternative that would be a viable solution?

        And what do you see as that transit solution?

    3. What is it you want? What would be a sign of showing concern for south of I-90? We can’t evaluate abstractions, we can only evaluate particular ideas, or at least the articulation of a problem that transit can solve. Anything on 405 faces the last-mile problem of getting to the freeway entrance. Is that what you want addressed? Or you want exclusive right-of-way on 405 or a parallel corridor (train or BRT)? Or something else?

  11. OK folks, I’m going to weigh in and wait eight (8) hours to respond to everyone after 9 PM tonight. But this op-ed is a good one, even though I disagree with it.

    First, the amount of political capital such as this op-ed spent opposing more democracy in transit versus finding a solution to the MVET crisis sickens me. That should be the focus. I agree with ST CEO Rogoff, “I’m on my way to Olympia to try to protect one revenue source while looking at the loss of revenues from Washington, D.C.,” Rogoff said. “It’s a grim day.” Let’s focus on the real fire in the kids’ bedroom, not the pet poo in the living room.

    Second, the fact we almost had a fundraiser for a Boardmember at the ST CEO’s home on Capitol Hill erodes my confidence in the Board or the CEO to be good stewards of resources & staff. That said, let me be clear, make no mistake: I will remain a fan & cheerleader of the many wonderful ST employees I’ve came to know so when I say, “GO SOUND TRANSIT” that’s for the staff. All of ’em.

    Third, if Boardmembers want confidence OK fine get tough in these meetings. Ask tough questions of staff. Quit being yes people. Stand up to the trolls and call them out on it. Go on Todd Herman’s show and start a dialogue with the opponents of Sound Transit. Make clear that when the MVET is cut and federal grants are at risk, that means eliminating padding which risks either tardy project delivery or cutbacks to ST3 lines.

    Fourth, I am not too happy with SB 5001. My e-mailed testimony was neutral for good reason – it’s so bad one of my transit advocate friends who understands me was just like, “Joe that bill is so badly written there’s no way our group could support it”. I get it and I’d like us to man up and propose our own bill. Starting with making Pierce Transit an elected Board and give it ’em back.

    Fifth and finally, ideally, ALL transit boards should be elected and take public transit to get around. Why single out Sound Transit for special treatment when other transits with less oversight have had serious fiscal issues & audit compliance issues, had to cut service, and lack the multiple citizen advisory committees Sound Transit has? I mean there was only ONE state legislative hearing about Island Transit’s meltdown – but how many legislative hearings about ST3’s voter approved tax increases?

    Thank you;

    Joe “AvgeekJoe” A. Kunzler, your friend

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