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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

3 Problems w/ Our Local Political Leaders

Posted by on November 16 at 10:49 AM

1) They don’t tell the truth. At a transportation forum last night, Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis told the crowd that Sound Transit’s light rail was “on time and on budget.ā€¯ On time? Light rail’s Phase One was supposed to be completed in 2006. Well, the new Phase One (Phase One Part A?), which is about one-third short of what we voted for in 1996, is set to open in 2009. That’s three years late and incomplete. I don’t know when the remaining seven miles is supposed to be built. On budget? By the most conservative estimates (which, for starters, don’t include debt service like the estimates that killed the monorail), Sound Transit’s light rail line from the airport to the U-District is 53 percent over budget at $1.34 billion over what voters approved. I’m all for building light rail, but let’s not fib about it.

(I applaud Council Member Nick Licata, who, at the same forum, told the truth about Sound Transit’s light rail project, saying Sound Transit has the right to tax voters as long as it must to build and pay off the airport to U-District Line. I guess under that equation, Ceis is right because Sound Transit doesn’t have to worry about a budget.)

2) Their priorities are backward. At the same transportation forum last night, North Seattle Sen. Ken Jacobsen (46 District, D) characterized the debate between spending the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) on roads or mass transit as a choice between maintaining the roof of your house (roads) or spending money on a skylight (mass transit). Skylight? Leaders like Jacobsen need to understand that times have changed and mass transit is a basic—the roof, if you will—not a frill.

3) They’re hypocrites. At the same forum, Ceis said the mayor pulled the plug on the monorail because the line the SMP ultimately proposed was 60 percent over the agency’s financial means. (That’s actually not true, but let’s pretend that Ceis is telling the truth about that one.) Well, the mayor’s viaduct proposal (a tunnel) costs 92 percent more than Team Nickels has at its disposal. (Let’s give Team Nickels four weeks to come up with a new finance plan.)

This is what I learned at last night’s transportation forum.