For many people, Ed Murray’s time as mayor will forever recall the horrific allegations against him, and his arguably tone-deaf response to those allegations — and rightfully so. While acknowledging the significance of that story, I feel fully unqualified to address it in any detail. So I’ll set the ominous cloud to one side, and summarize the state of transit as Ed Murray resigns from office.

With the exception of Sound Transit 2, Ed Murray inherited a transit landscape in disarray. The west half of the city was stuck in traffic with no end in sight. Metro’s years of budget shell games were finally running out, and big bus service cuts threatened.

In response, the Murray administration led two successful ballot measures, and had a part in a third:

  • After a county effort to raise funds for Metro failed, a 2014 city-level vehicle license fee funded bus service increases (as the originally-threatened cuts disappeared in economic growth).
  • The 2015 9-year, $930m Move Seattle levy built on the McGinn-era transit master plan to fund a revision of most major corridors to better serve transit, bikes, and pedestrians, and bring RapidRide to every corner of the city.
  • Although most of the praise for 2016’s Sound Transit 3 lies elsewhere, the Murray administration did produce an intriguing concept for a rail line that addressed needs in the Denny corridor instead of just rehashing the monorail. It also fought for infill stations at N. 130th St. and Graham St., and Seattle voted for the measure convincingly.

On top of these signature achievements, Murray’s SDOT, under appointee Scott Kubly, continued the shift away from prioritizing car throughput toward safety and considering needs of all modes. It also secured funding to build the Center City Connector between our two streetcar line. Thanks to dedicated right-of-way along 1st Avenue, this will be more of a low-grade light rail than a mixed-traffic streetcar.

Although Kubly was hired largely thanks to his bikeshare experience, the city’s Pronto bikeshare opened and then collapsed due to a constellation of problems. Luckily for Seattle, three private bikeshare companies soon followed with service that was in most respects vastly superior. SDOT deserves credit for creating a favorable regulatory framework for these companies.

Mayor Murray also made significant progress on land use policy during his term. He helped big developers and  many low-income housing advocates reach a compromise known as HALA. Small developers, single-family homeowners, and some housing advocates were not part of the bargain, and each has tried to chip away at the package in their own way. Most notably, changes to single-family zoning to allow duplexes and triplexes vanished at the first sign of serious resistance. Seattle even moved backwards on design review requirements and strangled the apodment boom in its crib, eliminating affordable housing that only required the City to get out of the way.

But that shouldn’t obscure the large accomplishments of HALA: substantial upzones in certain neighborhoods, many of which are already law, and new money for subsidized housing. More tangibly, Seattle’s apartment production has shot up and up ($), though not nearly enough to meet demand.

When Ed Murray replaced Mike McGinn in 2014, I didn’t know what to expect. Like most legislators, his track record was largely orthogonal to big issues in city politics. Furthermore, his policy proposals were vague enough that we endorsed Mayor McGinn. The policy status quo in 2017 is far better than what a transit activist had any reason to expect in 2013, with the possible exception of bike infrastructure. While Ed Murray the person let us down, the Ed Murray administration left Seattle a much better place than they found it.

74 Replies to “Seattle Mayor Ed Murray”

  1. It appears the [ad hom] have reached an all time low today. Singing the praises of [ad hom]. ‘Cuz he done good for Urbanism! I guess when they say Urbanism by any means necessary, that includes normalizes sex crimes against minors and being rape apologists for this type of miscreant.

      1. Censor the truth and backpedal away. You may find yourself deleting your blog post, self-censoring by the end of the day. Best of luck!

    1. So, instead of going high Lucy decides that even though the article was talking about the positives that Ed Murray brought with transport she felt it her duty to emphasize the troubles that brought him down. Way to go Lucy!

    2. It’s the other way around. Personal issues are side issues, especially when they happened decades ago. What affects seven hundred thousand Seattlites now and will in fifty years is what he did as mayor, and transit improvements and urbanism are part of that. I’ve been watching the Vietnam series on PBS, and there’s a lot about kill numbers and atrocities. Does that mean those people are ineligible to be mayor because of something that happened decades ago on another continent? The point is that they wouldn’t do it now, and it’s irrelevant in the duties of managing a city. Should people who take drugs on their personal time be rejected from jobs if it doesn’t impair their work performance? No, I don’t believe so, and it’s bad that this mentality has spread so far that people are drug-tested at work outside a few positions. In some states ex-felons don’t get their voting rights back after they finish their sentence, which should be unconstitutional. We need to get away from this idea that some crimes are so horrendous the person shouldn’t be able to do anything for the rest of their life.

      1. Um, yeah – [off topic]. I agree with the remainder of your statement and have made hiring decisions in the past accordingly, but why would you bring up atrocities and war crimes as something that should be forgiven/forgotten? Conflating heinous crimes against humanity with people who recreationally use drugs is, to say the least, a stretch.

      2. Um, Brent – I specifically responded to the word “atrocity” (leaving out the phrase “on another continent;” why that should matter is beyond me). I’m not sure why you are confusing “atrocity” with doing one’s job in wartime, odious by necessity though that might be. My older brother was a Vietnam-era vet who volunteered but was not sent as we left the country at the same time he was finishing basic; I get what you are saying about what one must often do as a soldier but that has nothing to do with violating the rules of war or the Geneva Conventions.

        Atrocity goes far beyond what one is asked to do in wartime in the course of performing one’s duty under legitimate orders. The UCMJ specifically forbids following illegitimate orders. What Calley and a number of other people who served in Vietnam did there besmirches the vast majority of veterans who served honorably, and I would not want any of those people working for or with me let alone running a city, a police force, a transit agency, or anything else.

        To reiterate – that stance has nothing to do with hiring or providing services to veterans of any period who served honorably, under the rules of war and the Constitution. That is such an overwhelming percentage of them I’m not sure why it’s even a question. It’s my opinion that one of the great shames of our country is that we do not do nearly enough for them once they return.

      3. Um, isn’t that “normalizing”? Your “sentence” already has a “main verb”, “includes”.

    3. While acknowledging the significance of that story, I feel fully unqualified to address it in any detail. So I’ll set the ominous cloud to one side, and summarize the state of transit as Ed Murray resigns from office.

      If you think the exercise set out in these two sentences simply shouldn’t be done, the burden is on you to make a case for that position. You’re simply pretending a) Martin isn’t being upfront about this, which he clearly is, and b) you’ve already established the case that this exercise is in some sense illegitimate, which you haven’t even bothered trying to do.

  2. Completely agree. He was very effective at getting necessary compromises from disparate constituencies. That being said, I still need to hold back a shudder every time I remember I once shook that creep’s hand

  3. Is this post a joke? Ed Murray did jack shit for cyclists in his 3+ years in office. He basically killed Pronto, caved on the Ballard Missing Link and added nothing to the Bicycle Master Plan. And as a state senator he was a driving force behind the most car-centric project in the history of modern Seattle–the waterfront tunnel. He had no good ideas, no new ideas, no progressive ideas. He was an empty suit and a petulant man. Good riddance to Ed Murray.

    1. He was more than a complete failure for cyclists, he brought us back about a decade by blowing millions on saving Pronto months before abandoning it. It continues to baffle me that Kubly, someone who has a background on both sides of bike share agreements (public and private), could fail so badly with Pronto. Although I think it made us aware of the reality, he doesn’t really have experience. More baffling is that Kubly still has a job in Seattle.

      We will be paying for his failure on the missing link for generations as 54th is left as a city subsidized parking lot while cyclists fight with peds and buses on an overburdened Market street.

      His best claim at success? Westlake, which provided absolutely no connectivity and failed to meet even basic updated AASHTO trail width recommendations. The dated policy of SDOT sticks with 1999 recommendations.

      “all bicycle facilities must comply with Chapters 1515 and 1520 of the WSDOT Design Manual which is consistent with the 1999 AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities.”

      1. It’s difficult to characterize Murray’s attitude towards the cycling community as other than a big middle finger for having supported McGinn (as though that weren’t essentially a given). And this despite all the hype around Vision Zero, while all the while construction has been prioritized ahead of bicycling safety and enforcement of things like bike lanes parked in by Uber and Lyft cars is essentially nonexistent.

  4. “the Ed Murray administration left Seattle a much better place than they found it.”

    I couldn’t disagree more. An explosion of homelessness, a housing crisis that has priced a good number of my friends out of Seattle, multiple delays on the bicycle master plan, bungling bike share (maybe v3 will work, we’ll see how it goes), anti-pedestrian changes such as adaptive signals, massive cost overruns on IT consolidation.. I could go on and on. And, of course an unwillingness to take bold action. He stepped back from a lot of progressive changes and let members of Council push them forward. Letting Sawant do the heavy lifting of $15 and then taking credit. Letting Gonzalez
    push for immigrant protection and police reform, then taking credit. Backing away from anything even remotely controversial with HALA, and letting Johnson go out to the neighborhoods to meet with angry constituents regarding upzones. There are a few bright spots in his administration, but I’m convinced that was in spite of Murray, not because of him.

    About the only good thing that I can put on his shoulders is the funding situation. He was really good at raising money for the city. Otherwise, he (and his temper) were terrible for the city.

    1. I don’t think Murray deserves credit for the explosion of homelessness. Decades of institutionalized segregation in the land-use code, combined with laws of supply and demand, led inevitably to this crisis.

      If the mayoral candidates give in and start HALA over, that will lead only to digging the hole deeper, not healing. Those defending the injustice built into the land-use code need to consider the consequences of their actions, rather than sweeping away the victims.

      1. He deserves credit because he was Mayor, and had the power to actually DO something about it.

        Instead, he focused on cruel and inhumane sweeps, pissed away money (, and.. basically did as little as possible.

        Meanwhile, housing affordability is a root cause of the massive increase in homelessness. He could’ve attacked the problem from that angle, but didn’t. HALA isn’t close to being enough (and I agree with you that we shouldn’t start it over). While Seattle politicians talk about how much housing we are building – very little of it is housing for families (

        We needed bold action. Instead, we got a politician who was more concerned about his career and image than addressing Seattle’s problems.

      2. Like the four mayors before him he made some incremental improvements. He was not an amazing visionary who solved homelessness. If by chance somebody comes along who proposes to build as many tiny houses and public housing as we need and abolish single-family zones so that the market isn’t confined to 30% of the city, s/he will find that mayors aren’t kings and it would still have to pass the council, and nimbys would rise up to water it down, the state restricts policy flexibility and tax structure, and federal supplemental funding is completely uncertain. Do you think Rob Johnson backed down because the opposition was trivially small?

      3. No one is suggesting that he needed to act like an autocrat. He had a very comfortable relationship with Council (to the point where they defended him despite FOUR sexual abuse claims. 4!) He would not have had any problems getting bold legislation through Council.

        And yes, stuff would inevitably get watered down, which is why you go big. He was capable of going big when it came to funding issues- a billion dollar levy.

  5. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, it is very hard for me to read an article discussing things Murray did that would be considered good. I know you gave the caveat about setting his bad deeds aside to examine them, and i know i’m probably wrong to not be able to compartmentalize his deeds, and probably wrong to feel the way I do. But I can’t help but react very strongly to this article. As a survivor I don’t have the privilege of separating the bad deeds from the good with a person like Murrray. Instead I get to relive my own nightmare. It’s not something I can control. Just trying to give a different perspective.

    1. Faith, thanks for the comment. You are free to think of Ed Murray any way you want, and are probably right to think of him the way you do.

  6. One has to wonder if this article was posted to get a large number of comments. Writing an article about Ed Murray’s pro-transit reputation after his resignation amid multiple child rape allegations is destined to get a lot of attention.

    My take: he might have done some good things while he was in office, but the allegations against him wipe it all away. Take Bill Cosby: a funny, successful comedian who did wonders to help acceptance of African-Americans in our country. But, for most people, it is all wiped away by the voluminous allegations of his mistreatment of women.

    The small number of people who are somehow able to lead otherwise successful lives while doing horrible things in their personal lives are an enigma. We all understand mostly good people (Mother Teresa, Ghandi, etc), or mostly bad people (Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden), but people who live double lives offend our sense of right and wrong.

    1. but the allegations against him wipe it all away.

      One can make that argument in terms of our assessment of Murray as a person quite persuasively. I don’t think Martin’s post suggests otherwise. One can’t make that argument in a non-moral, empirical sense; revelations about Murray’s horrific past and his resignation do not, as a matter of fact, return Seattle to the 2013 transit/land use status quo. Suggesting people who write about those issues should be under some obligation to pretend otherwise isn’t a realistic or serious position. Bad people have always been, and will continue to be, historically significant figures, and their impacts on history won’t necessarily be unequivocally bad.

    2. I actually do a retrospective of each Mayor (aside from Harrell) at the end of his time in office. A lot happened in 3 1/2 years and I thought it deserved to be observed.

      1. I think you were right in doing so. We can’t just pretend we had no mayor for 3-1/2 years. You mentioned the horrific allegations in your first paragraph, and it seemed clear that the rest of your post was about Murray as mayor, not as a person.

  7. I’m afraid you’re falling for Murray’s honeyed words and ignoring his actual deeds. What has Move Seattle actually done on the ground? Aside from funding hours for buses to sit in traffic? Nothing; they’ve compromised their plans for corridor after corridor while money’s been siphoned away to the black hole of the Streetcrawler. Money’s promptly appeared for the boutique night owl buses, while actually useful transit waits in line longer and longer. Even the One Central City plan completely caved into cars before pulling out an interesting Sixth Avenue plan at the last moment – shoving buses into the shadow of I-5, but at least ostensibly giving them right of way.

    Meanwhile, Kubly proved to be corrupt enough to bring down Pronto, and only the luck of having three interested private companies saved our bikeshare. (And did Murray use any of his much-vaunted influence to get rid of the counterproductive life-shortening helmet law?) The Missing Link is still missing; bike lanes still end at random places; what has SDOT’s nice talk turned into?

    And Sound Transit-wise, 130th St Station is still up in the air, while the nominally Ballard line will have just one stop north of the ship canal, and First Hill is still waiting for its stop on what’s still the Far North Lynnwood Express…

    1. Bus hours are actually funded from 2014’s Move Seattle Proposition 1. Move Seattle is geared toward capital improvements.

      The Center City Connector is being funded almost completely from a federal grant.

      130th St Station is a function of whether there will be enough money, but if there is, it is planned, and has a projected opening date.

      But this comment reaches to what I’m guessing is the real point of this post: The tasks that got left undone.

      1. I was actually talking about the First Hill Streetcar, where various improvements are planned with money that would’ve gone to 23rd Ave RR+.

        And when Murray was campaigning on the basis of his connections in Olympia helping him make deals with other agencies… why yes, I’m going to fault him for not being able to reach those deals, as well as for the several years between Lynnwood Link opening and 130th Station being added.

      2. Meanwhile, Kubly proved to be corrupt enough to bring down Pronto, and only the luck of having three interested private companies saved our bikeshare.

        Yep, the history of corruption and payoffs isn’t “decades ago”. Mayor Murray didn’t invent it but was a willing enabler of the systemic plague in Seattle/King County politics. Bike share is small potatoes compared to the billions the anointed Sound Transit board sends to friends and political supporters. Likewise the Metro budget provides plenty of cream for skimming for connected local governments, non-profits and developers. Why did it take the Great Recession to actually implement any sort of accountability and cost controls?

  8. It is extraordinarily disturbing to see STB normalize a known rapist. This is absolutely disgusting. Delete your post.

    1. Even though his behavior was despicable, Murray did (or failed to do) many things as Mayor of Seattle which will impact the city for years if not decades to come, and that’s well worth talking about.

      Now, as I pointed out in my comment, this post has many other problems with how it discusses the legacy of his more public deeds, but that’s another complaint.

      1. I am not suggesting we build a statue or memorialize Ed Murray. I am suggesting that his approach to transit and land use has been a positive one that, in general, ought to be emulated.

        As many have noted, there are exceptions, in particular surrounding bike infrastructure.

  9. Lucy: You and Martin both spoke from what you each know for a fact as to the crimes of which several people have accused Ed Murray. Who has not been indicted by a prosecutor, let alone convicted.

    Considering what’s possible with social media, anyone on Earth can accuse both you and me of literally anything, and be believed by literally millions. And get fired or killed by at least one.

    But here’s my main point to you. If Ed Murray is formally charged with anything, or sued, lose your temper in public and you’ll remove yourself from consideration for the job I think you’d give anything to have:

    Sitting on the jury charged with deciding, and if need be punishing, the man’s guilt. Martin is doing his job. Don’t ruin your own chance to do yours.

    But Martin, give us some words about Ed Murray’s support of the Deep Bore Tunnel, which predates his election. And even more about what transit can do about DBT’s most likely effect on it.

    Also overdue to ask Jenny and Carrie about program schedule for the years-overdue demolition of the Viaduct. Or Seattle taxpayers’ wrongful death assessment when geology takes care of the job.

    Apodments. Which ’50’s alien invasion was that? Would make them legal only for those who will build them for themselves right now when they’re illegal. I see a compact comfortable code-legal living space in a warehouse loft corner for a sculptor working in large welded steel beams or giant tree-trunks.

    For those whom official Seattle calls “Homeless?” Easy assembly of kitchen and sanitation big plus. And construction simplicity that can let us revive our country’s historic precedent of whole neighborhoods and towns building both newcomers and newlyweds their first houses.

    Just so the result is an actual home. Because I really hate the campaign to normalize a steadily diminishing quality of life for the average person. To paraphrase General Sheridan: “If I owned Affordabilty and Texas, I’d rent out Texas and live where I had “Affordability”. Four letter words can also have twelve.

    Politely, hire people for the desperately needed repair work our country including Seattle needs. And pay them enough to Afford things like Homes.

    Mark Dublin

  10. Haha, the author thought he could intelligently discuss a specific policy issue without the comments section turning into an off-topic shitshow. Never overestimate your audience.

  11. I won’t comment as to Murray’s alleged past crimes.

    As to the transit policies of Murray– a big meh. The biggest transit vote (ST3) and the mayor’s SDOT guy would not speak to the transit community about his thinking/reasoning? While the plan itself is OK, it is approximately 17 years away for a portion North Seattle being able to use it (and passed up a cheaper, faster built option in the Ballard to UW that carries as many people).

    As to HALA– he chickened out on the rezoning SFH areas, not wanting to jeopardize his then reelection hopes. (We can debate whether the low income buyout (instead of including low income units) should even be allowed for increasing height limits) was worthwhile– Montgomery County, MD has had mandatory inclusion in new developments for years with some success.

    The better question to answer is what the person who finished 2nd (not Mayor Dori Monson) would have done. Would we have Streetcar Uber Alles? Would the hatred of McGinn led to ST3 going to defeat?

  12. I strongly disagree. This is one of the most liberal cities in the country–the “accomplishments” he had from an urban perspective had absolutely nothing do with him except for the fact that he didn’t oppose them. For another city like Dallas or Atlanta, I’d say that’s “progressive” but it’s a much higher bar here. He set us back a decade as far as cycling goes. He got the ball rolling on 2nd ave right after a cyclist died and then there was no follow-thru on anything else to connect that network. It pains me to think how many other cyclists have died or been seriously injured thanks to his inaction. His roll out of Pronto was a disaster as well. Nearly every other major city has caught up with us as far as bike infrastructure and commute rates while he was mayor. Despite what one reads in the Seattle Times, the vast majority of this city is pro-transit and pro-bike. It’s not a tough sell for a mayor to get outside of his comfort zone to expedite some of these projects that were left on the back burner.

    1. “Despite what one reads in the Seattle Times, the vast majority of this city is pro-transit and pro-bike.”

      The sad thing is he used and abused the bike community by giving us lots of promises for backing MOVE Seattle. We worked the phone banks, made big donations, and came out in public fighting for his plan.

      And almost as soon as he declared victory he took out a knife and stabbed us in the back by shredding the bike master plan and delaying all the promised near term bike projects until well after the MOVE Seattle funding will be fully exhausted.

      At least with Trump we know everything he says is a lie. With Murray it’s all hand shakes and smiles with broken promises.

      1. Agreed. My default vote for City of Seattle transit initiatives would now be “no”; I’d need ironclad promises of specific on-the-ground improvements to be convinced otherwise.

        (if I lived in Seattle – I now live in Bellevue, in part because transit in Seattle’s so bad.)

  13. Writing an article singing Murray’s praises is a bit like erecting a statue of Robert E. Lee to memorialize his honor and bravery. The country is in the process of tearing down anything that has a semblance of historical ugliness attached to it. And then this article?

    …I guess only some people can be praised for their accomplishments despite their other faults…

    1. >singing Murray’s praises
      we clearly didn’t read the same article
      why don’t you give the first paragraph another try

    2. We’re talking about what his accomplishments were, both good and bad, and how they should be weighed. That’s akin to a college class or a group of buddies discussing what Lee did and how good or bad it was. The point of the article is that Murray did some good things which should not be ignored or forgotten, and especially a transit blog should acknowledge the transit-related things.

      A statue is not an article. Most statues exist to revere for generations the great things somebody did. And that doesn’t mean every single thing they did, just a few public things that are considered important. An article just states an opinion, whether something is good or bad. A statue is much more than that, it’s the symbolic presence of a person, something that others can revere.

      But the Confederate statues that are being taken down are something beyond that. They aren’t just to acknowledge history or state the greatness of Lee or the rightness of states’ rights. They were put up when Reconstruction weakened to terrorize the black population into not standing up for their rights or they’d be lynched. They were meant to intimidate in the same way as a noose or a burning cross, to proclaim white supremacy. That is a far bigger and more public issue than the awful things Murray may have done to a few individuals.

      1. All good points, and I actually agree with them. People should be judged on their wholeness, as should any reminder or memorialization of them.

        And the first paragraph (responding to a comment above) can either be viewed as an acknowledgement of reality or a dismissal of it. Again, either view is fine by me, b/c see the statement above.

      2. The first paragraph intentionally doesn’t take a side because I’m looking at a different aspect of the situation, the debate process itself.

        My own feelings about Murray’s transit/land use accomplishments are, he brought things forward significantly, fulfilling the groundwork McGinn had laid in the TMP (i.e., those five or six RapidRide lines). He rightly reversed McGinn’s push for streetcars in Eastlake and Westlake and reverted them to RapidRide. Some of the decisions and execution I’m mediorcre about, but I believe in supporting our leaders and working with them and giving them the benefit of the doubt; I focus on the decisions that haven’t yet been made rather than the ones that have. I don’t have enough expertise in the bike-path alternatives to have any specific opinion about them. I like the new bioswales around the city and the Pac-Man parklet-intersection or whatever you call it. Pronto failed for many reasons, the biggest being no stations in high-bicycle areas like the Burke-Gilman. I don’t know how much Murray or Kubly was responsible for those decisions. The new bikeshare is ten times better, and Murray deserves credit for putting it together and allowing it. Better late than never. (Although we don’t yet know whether the companies will stay in it longer-term.)

  14. I am often aligned with the STB on issues, but I’m having a really hard time not being nauseated by this post. It’s a bit Machiavellian, to say the least. They said Mussolini made the trains run on time too, but ugh.

    Man, it just seems really, really tone deaf. I cannot believe this got through whatever filters you guys have in place. This is something drunk transit nerds discuss in private, if at all.

    1. Felsen, type in “Did Mussolini Make The Trains Run On Time?” and you’ll find pretty much same answer as “Did Trump Destroy North Korea?” Worth a mention, but a short one.

      But this particular railroad reference legitimately brings one ugly murdering dictator into a transportation discussion. With many widespread implications.

      Tyrants are generally overrated for their infrastructural accomplishment. Largely because objective critics, especially civil engineers, are either fled dead. Stalin pointedly put “Engineers” at the top of his Enemies List.

      Terrible but true fact is how, many Russians who justly think that the Fall of the Wall took their personal well-being with it, say they wish they had Stalin back. Not good to think who’d win that election, Vladimir Putin or his predecessor.

      Not the first time that killers who in their own time were worshiped to avoid being killed are now being glorified to spite their replacements. But nobody was going to machine-gun Seattle voters for not voting for Ed Murray.

      What I don’t like is the idea that Ed’s most despicable private matters forbid this blog from discussing things that happened during his term. Which, as I remember the situation, would have been pretty much the same if Mike had won.

      Also really careful about guilt by allegation, especially where I don’t and can’t have any firsthand information on the case. But will also fight attempts to “shut anybody up.” Which themselves often backfire against the attempters.

      Now for what it’s worth, here’s something I have to struggle with, in any public piece of writing.

      A friend of mine who’s a combat veteran tells me that a knife can leave a crippling lifelong injury. Sheer luck the strung out kid that got my cab door open to rob me had a foot-long dull butcher knife.

      With a three inch flat surface at the handle-end perfect for pulling the weapon out of his weak, sweaty hand and throwing it out of sight. Small sharp blade like the ones the girl had would have ended anymore Bob Dylan covers on my old Gibson.

      Available public information is telling me that two tall, strong, trained police officers had their right hands full of steel, as officially-authorized as it was useless, at the exact second all four of their hands should have been grabbing a tiny insane girl with no weapons instruction whatever.

      Last paragraph in print anywhere, including here, means no jury duty for me. Also, when I promise I’ll acquit the officers if I can send whoever gave those men their firearms indoctrination to lethal injection. Source I trust. Will say it anywhere I want.

      But won’t silence anybody with same knowledge from contradicting me. And unless we’re discussing transit police, I’d leave decision to include or deny its presence in any posting to the Editor. Preferably, mention for relevance, and return to topic. Speaking of transit relevance, however:

      This is definitely an example of a good journalistic “fit” between government, street rail, and some private matters that harmed somebody innocent. Neil Goldschmidt brought in some excellent car-lines.

      Maybe his enhanced life sentence is that there are so few words mentioning the transit he was responsible for. Journalistic treatment here “shows how it’s done'” for cases like this.


    2. It’s a bit Machiavellian, to say the least. They said Mussolini made the trains run on time too, but ugh.

      This would make sense if there was some connection between Murray’s wickedness and his policy success. Obviously, that’s not the case, so I’m not sure at all how this accusation and analogy make any sense at all.

      1. I agree with you, to a point. However, I bet his personality type (I wouldn’t say sociopath, but narcissist) led him on both fronts. The reported outbursts, the sort of mini-bullying of journalists/subordinates, visions of (political) grandeur, and his general political style were, no doubt, part of that psychological package.

        Beyond that, and just speaking in terms of PR, there is no amount of pixie dusted nuance that could make the posted article sparkle in public. Seriously, those are the kinds of philosophical conversations you only have with your drunk friends. I don’t think anybody is saying you erase the guy from history, I just think there’s a more sensible approach to a public discussion.

  15. The best thing Murray ever did was resign (and far too late at that). He did nothing for this city. You have to dig real deep to find anything to even make up.

    Who allowed this piece vaunting the (non-existent) actions of a quite -possible Pedophile?

    A black eye for the site.

    “He inherited a transit landscape in disarray.” Well, here’s some news, it’s still in disarray and possibly worse.


  16. I disagree with the comments above which say this topic is beyond discussion. Ex-mayor Murray is almost certainly a criminal, who has committed several terrible crimes. However he was our mayor for nearly 4 years; we all lived under his policies, including transit ones; this is a transit blog, and as such it is topical to look back at the highlights of this administration re: transit, no matter what the mayor’s dark secrets happen to have been.

    I disagree also with the attitude that Murray’s crimes are so beyond the pale that the proper response is to “never mention!” his name again in any context – not that his crimes are not horrific, but to sweep every mention of him under the rug seems like more of a reflection of our city-wide shame at having elected him, and much less a grappling with nature of accountability for sexual crimes committed by the powerful.”Don’t speak ill of the dead/well of the rapist.” But does that help us try not to repeat the past?

    On the other hand, the comments disagreeing with the assessment of Murray’s transit policies are great, and I feel more educated for reading both opinions. Thanks for this article.

  17. I think he was a mixed bag as mayor. He was a consummate politician. He knew how to get things done though the patronage in his office was very obvious. The city IT consolidation screw-ups (and they were big, and they managed to keep it mostly under wraps) and SDOT’s obvious failings are would be two low points. I’m not sure how Kubly still has a job after that inside work on Pronto. That said, he certainly wouldn’t be the first mayor to be mildly shady. Obviously the abuse allegations are beyond the pale. Is he a nice guy. Obviously no.

    As an urban mayor, I wasn’t thrilled with the way he watered down HALA almost instantly. He joined the council in spending more time grandstanding on national issues than working on local ones. He also was part of the team that kind of forced the tunnel on us. (Sure, we couldn’t possibly not replace the viaduct? Where would the cars go downtown? Oh wait, they still need to because there are no exits downtown. Well, at least it creates union jobs I guess?)

    Just like you can enjoy Michael Jackson’s music while noting his abuse of children was very wrong, I think we can look at Murray’s accomplishment separately. Like many, he was an opportunist and in with the money, but he also did some positives.

  18. Underneath this all, I wonder what it’s fair do demand that any Mayor of Seattle do? A mayor’s success on any individual effort, let alone his whole term, depends on events and people he’s got very little direct control over.

    Mike McGinn vehemently opposed the Deep Bore Tunnel, and put in a lot of effort to kill it, against serious high level opposition up to the Governor’s office. But nobody blames him because he didn’t succeed.

    History makes a good case that leadership’s main requirement is a mass yelling and collar-shaking demand that the victim, I mean targeted leader, take charge and start making the critical decisions that the followers on his collar want decided, but by themselves can’t.

    So for matters exactly like transit in Seattle, lack of leadership stems directly from lack of anybody who can stand cooperating, let alone being led. Sin to mention casualties as an incentive.

    But if a ‘quake gets anymore of ’99 when nobody is on or under it except expensive empty cars, whoever’s Mayor will have HER transit success remembered to the Heavens.


    1. It’s fair to demand a good vision of policies and the leadership/people skills to get them done. I don’t think anyone thought in the last election that he would make really sweeping changes like some others have blamed him for not doing, and I don’t think any of his opponents would have done so either, so it’s kind of moving the goalposts to say “He failed because everything isn’t perfect now and he didn’t give the nimbys a complete knockout punch.” But we have an opportunity very soon to say what the next mayor should do and how closely the two candidates fulfill that, so maybe this time before the election we can decide how we’ll judge their later performance. But I don’t want to talk about them specifically or the issues for them on Murray’s page.

  19. One might also pin on Murray the lack of traffic law enforcement which threatens the safety of everyone riding a bicycle in Seattle and everyone walking to work or crossing the street to a transit stop.

    Murray campaigned on policing as an area where McGinn had failed and Murray would do better. Now, police reform is still in a shambles, and we still see needless police escalation of violence which is racially discriminatory. And now we have a police chief whose selection Murray announced while favorably mentioning that she shares his Irish ethnicity, and who has two out-of-state side jobs and seems to be acting as if she has no remaining business in Seattle with Murray out of office.

    1. Jonathan, it really has been awhile since Irish ethnicity was taken seriously in US politics or anything else, but it’s nowadays there’s always still some kidding about a city with both the Mayor and the Chief of Police being Irish.

      In 1848, the English, by means of violence, starvation, and free passage on a fleet of ships pretty much designed to sink, provided the United States with a wave of refugees that’d made the welcome of today’s Syrian refugees look like a red carpet all the way to the boats.

      To their visible illness and poverty, the Irish added the fact that all of them were Catholic. Rename the two Christian faiths Sunnis and Shiites, and you’ll know how people whose not very distant ancestors fled from the Wars of the Reformation felt about being outnumbered by these particular newcomers.

      Due to, and immediately after the Civil War, into which thousands of Irishmen were drafted at the bottom of the gangplank, the Irish became a real force in US politics. And many went to the police and fire departments because they’d had some experience with ill-paid semi-organized danger.

      Also because nobody else wanted either job. And also because nobody would hire Irishmen for anything else. Absence of anti-discrimination laws cheerfully permitted anybody hiring to finish the notice with the footnote: “No Irish Need Apply.”

      That’s why arrestees started getting loaded into “Paddy Wagons”, and many non-Irish got used to calling policemen “Clancy”. “Shamus” as a term for a detective came from the celtic version of “James.” Lot of them were also called Mike. Even after they got to be Mayor.

      But “Chief Kathleen O’Toole!” Music to the ear, it is! Very likely close lady ancestors who could clean out a bar with a rolling pin passed down some skill with a billy-club. Anyhow, fact that nobody even remembers the reference anymore shows our country’s powers of assimilation.

      Except that in wonderful old Chicago, while people from many ethnicities had problems with policemen of other’s, there was true pan-ethnic agreement over one thing. If you’re black, don’t get caught by policemen of any other ethnic background.

      Good thing police departments don’t think that way now.


  20. The 2015 Move Seattle is a 9-year levy program, not ten years as stated in the OP’s piece. It was a replacement for Seattle’s expiring Bridging the Gap levy.

    I would recommend for those who like to dive into the weeds, as they say, to read the inaugural 2016 annual report on the 3-pronged program.

    For 2016, the levy budget called for $94.8 million in spending. This was revised downward during the year to $82.1 million and ultimately the city spent only $49.6 million, or only 60% of the levy funds for 2016.

    Skip all the glossy pages and you can read the details and the narrative for the lower than projected spending levels starting on page 32.

    The revenue from the property tax levy was $93 million in 2016.

    The link to the report is at the top of the page .

    1. I meant to include this excerpt in the post above:

      “The $930 million levy will be paid for through a property tax that will cost the median Seattle household (valued at $450,000) about $275 per year, for nine years. The Bridging the Gap levy that expired cost the median Seattle household about $130 per year.”

    1. I know this is probably OT but it’s a pet peeve: “Nixon created the EPA” is a very misleading statement. The act that precipitated the EPA, NEPA, passed the Senate unanimously and with less than 20 no votes in the House. A veto would have been easily overridden. Nixon subsequently took action to create the agency in part because it would have been grossly illegal to do otherwise.

      A lot of good environmental legislation passed with large majorities while Nixon was in office, but Nixon’s main contribution was to try and water them down a little (he was moderately successful in weakening the version of the clean water act, less so with the rest.)

    2. As Elizabeth Warren’s Fight book says, “The first three Republican presidents who followed FDR — Eisenhower, Nixon, and Ford — had mostly taken the same basic approach to governing that Democrats like Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson did. In their view, govrenment could be a force to build widespread prosperity, and it should regulate industry and advance opportunities for the future…” Then Reagan said government is the problem and pushed trickle-down economics, Clinton and Obama went halfway along with the new trend, and Trump put it on steroids.

      As to why this happened, the best analysis I’ve seen is Thomas Picketty’s, that western society was oriented around a tiny rich elite who had all the wealth and power from antiquity to the double whammy of the World Wars and Depression that obliterated their wealth and power, and the experience of coping together with those calamities led to a sense of “we’re all in this together” and government should work for the good of the common people. But the anti-New Dealers always resented it, and with Reagan they were able to dominate and dial it back to the 1% that has reacquired all the wealth and, if trends continue, will become a hereditary aristocracy again in the next couple generations.

  21. Murray was a long term legislator whose only executive experience came ~20 years before he was mayor managing a small non-profit. His administration was probably more competent than McGinn’s but under his watch our city continued to be inefficiently managed which did and does not bode well for our chances of solving problems related to homelessness and drug addiction (the city is overwhelmed) or transportation gridlock (progress is too slow and too expensive).

  22. Hitler built the autobahn, so does that make up for all the other stuff he did? I don’t think so.
    Maybe Murray got a lot done but that doesn’t make up for the damage he did elsewhere. He’s a guy who should be in prison, not running a major city. I gotta question the morals of anyone who would write a story like this

Comments are closed.